JIS News

Judging of the inaugural Better Environments for Social Transformation (BEST) community competition will begin on Labour Day, May 23.
Chairperson of the Steering Committee for BEST, Jacqueline DaCosta, told JIS News that some 180 communities islandwide will be vying for prizes at the parish and national levels.
The number of entrants, she said, has exceeded expectations, based on the fact that the competition is in its pilot stage. “We thought maybe we would get about 100 applications, but in fact we have received 180 applications, which is great,” she stated.
She noted that entries came from all 14 parishes with St. Catherine having the most entrants. “They had the most in number with 28 out of 49 communities entering.
This is also the most proportionate to the number of communities that exist in the parish,” she reported. Contrastingly, the least number of entries came from St. Ann and St. James, with seven out of 55 communities and seven of 77 communities, respectively submitting entries.
Mrs. DaCosta told JIS News that after Labour Day “it will take a few weeks for us to go through all the parishes with the judging and then we will have the national judging,” adding that the winners will be announced on Emancipation Day, August 1.
She explained that “since it is a short year, judging will take into consideration activities that had been carried out by communities or groups within the communities over the past two years. Therefore, the judges will also look at work that had been carried out by the community prior to the competition.”
The community projects, she said, should cover the seven main areas outlined in the competition. These are: the built and natural environment; socio-economic areas; hazard mitigation and disaster preparedness; education; health and waste management; and heritage and culture.
In addition to the parish and national prizes, there will also be special prizes for the Most Beautiful Community, the Best kept Educational Institution, Most Improved Agricultural Practices, Best Community Spirit and Self-Reliance, and Best Cultural Heritage Programme.
The BEST community competition was started by a group comprised of public and private sector organizations, in recognition of the critical need to involve citizens in the social, economic, physical and environmental transformation of the society.
Sponsors include Digicel, Victoria Mutual Building Society (VMBS), Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica, Petrojam, Tourism Product Development Company (TPDco), Marathon Insurance Brokers, and the Insurance Company of the West Indies (ICWI).

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