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Story Highlights

  • The first of three island-wide public consultations on housing and human settlement by the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing, got underway on Monday, May 12.
  • Several representatives from government and non-government organisations, as well as from the western business community and the education fraternity, participated in discussions.
  • The series of consultations are in preparation for a national report for the third United Nations Conference on Human Settlement (Habitat III).

The first of three island-wide public consultations on housing and human settlement by the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing, got underway on Monday, May 12, at the University of the West Indies, Western Campus in Montego Bay.

Several representatives from government and non-government organisations, as well as from the western business community and the education fraternity, participated in discussions, which were centred on issues affecting rural/urban existence, and the use of available opportunities for human advancement.

Addressing participants during the interactive session, Chief Technical Director for Housing, Doreen Prendergast, observed that efforts must be advanced to have rural communities adequately retrofitted in order to eliminate rural/urban drift.

Citing Colombia as an example, she informed that “they have some of the largest slum areas, but every single person in that community who is of age and who owns property, is on the tax roll”.

In supporting the idea put forward by Mrs. Prendergast, Montego Bay developer, Mark Kerr-Jarrett said with efficient infrastructure and proper development plans, informal communities and rural areas as a whole can become the nurturing ground for responsible and functioning members of society.

He suggested that to eliminate squatting and rural/urban migration, a national development plan should be established for rural areas.

He pointed to agriculture as one sector, which could drive rural development.

“We need to turn agriculture into something that is ‘sexy’… it’s not some old man with a torn-up hat riding a break-down donkey. Agriculture is a highly advanced technologically demanding industry … and squatters/informal settlers involved in it could eventually become functional and proud members of the Jamaican farming community,” Mr. Kerr-Jarrett pointed out.

The series of consultations are in preparation for a national report for the third United Nations Conference on Human Settlement (Habitat III).

The second session is scheduled for Wednesday, May 14, at the Mandeville Parish Church at 10:00 a.m. while the final will be at the Jamaica Conference Centre on Friday, May 16.