KINGSTON — State Minister with responsibility for Local Government, Hon. Shahine Robinson, is assuring that the Government is committed to facilitating community empowerment.
This, she explained, is to position communities to play a more active and integral role in nation building, by enabling citizens to be more involved in the management of issues impacting their lives.
Speaking at the official opening of the Church Pen community centre and computer facility in St. Catherine, on August 17, Mrs. Robinson emphasised that community development and involvement are pivotal to the local government process.
Pointing to the broad cross section of persons living and working in communities, the State Minister contended that the “level of vibrancy” resonating in these areas is contingent on the extent of interaction among members.
“It is your recognition of the goals you share with other members, and the organised efforts of all members to achieve those goals. Your community, therefore, becomes more effective in ensuring its safety and prosperity through your personal involvement,’ she argued.
Mrs. Robinson cited citizens’ associations, youth clubs, the Church, and sports organisations as institutions through which residents can play effective roles in community building and renewal. She added that where none of these exist, citizens can assist in establishing them, which can serve as important for a for discussion and joint action.
“It is our experience that communities with proactive organizations, in which our hardworking, law abiding citizens are deeply involved, are the ones that are much less vulnerable to organised crime, are more effective in withstanding natural disasters, and are more successful in developing meaningful projects,” she said.
Explaining that community empowerment begins with the people, the State Minister assured that the Department of Local Government, the Office of the Prime Minister, and the Government, “stand resolute with you to facilitate such empowerment so that you, our citizens, are able to take control of your own destiny and manage the affairs that directly impact your lives."
“We are intent on positioning our communities to play a more integral role in nation building and national development,” while adding that the process has begun with local government reform, currently being undertaken
Mrs. Robinson invited residents to share their ideas for community development and empowerment with government representatives, particularly during Local Government Month, in November. Additionally, she urged them to visit their parish council meetings, as well as participate in activities organised by their parish development committees.
“Let your voices be heard on how best we can exercise our citizenship to help in nation building and national development. Jamaica belongs to us, so let us all get involved. Let us strengthen our local organizations and let us rebuild our communities for a safe and prosperous Jamaica,” Mrs. Robinson implored.
Developed at a cost of just over $5 million, the community centre and computer facility is a collaborative undertaking involving the Urban Development Corporation (UDC), Universal Access Fund (UAF), National Housing Trust (NHT), Social Development Commission (SDC), Member of Parliament for South West St. Catherine, Everald Warmington, and residents of Church Pen.
By DOUGLAS McINTOSH, JIS Reporter