The National Best Community Competition and Programme (NBCCP), organised through the Cabinet Office, is transforming communities, by providing them with cash incentives and technical support to undertake projects and programmes and uniting residents around the development of the areas in which they live.
With a top prize of $2 million plus another $350,000 in sectional awards up for grabs, Chairperson of the NBCCP, Mrs. Jacqueline daCosta tells JIS News that the communities have been putting the money to good use.
“Many of them have been using their money to set up homework centres and community computer centres for adults and children. All the money they win, they have to spend on community projects and they do an amazing variety of things,” she says. She cites the Beeston Springs CDC in Westmoreland, which placed third in 2007, and used the prize money to develop a water system utlising the community spring.
She notes that some communities have obtained additional support to help with small businesses or farming. They are also undertaking beautification and clean-up of schools, parks, roads, and historical sites.
Wood carvings produced by residents of Glengoffe in St. Catherine. Glengoffe won the inaugural National Best Community Competition and Programme (NBCCP) in 2007.
Stating that the competition has also served to empower residents, Mrs. daCosta says that “people are realizing that they do not have to sit and wait for somebody to do something for them and that if they do things for themselves they will get help”.
“It pulls the people together. It helps with crime because people now get to know each other, especially some of the smaller places. It builds a lot of community spirit and people are getting together to do things that is to the benefit to the community,” she notes further.
Glengoffe in St. Catherine, which topped 180 communities to win the 2007 contest, used the $2 million plus $150,000 for winning three sectional categories, to undertake a number of projects, including the purchase of land for the establishment of a human resource complex.
Land preparation work has begun for the project, which will include recreational and training facilities, where persons could make and sell craft items.
Jiggi-jappa hats produced by residents of Glengoffe in St. Catherine from straw grown in the area. The residents also make mats and bags from the straw. Glengoffe won the inaugural National Best Community Competition and Programme (NBCCP) in 2007.
Additionally, the local post office and the police station got a facelift, with the buildings repainted and the surroundings beautified with trees and decorated stones. Work was also carried out at the Glengoffe High School, where about 100 coconut plants and other fruit trees were planted.
President of the Glengoffe Community Development Committee (CDC),
Mr. Roosevelt Lawrence, tells JIS that the community has collaborated with the Department of Education at the University of the West Indies and the Ministry of Education to undertake a project to improve attendance at the Cassava River Primary School, which is doing well.
“We had to do a project to attract students to come out. That project is to provide meals for the students. we used chickens. Our contribution was to build the chicken houses, assist in getting the materials and the Department of Education at the university gave us $300,000. It is going very well,” he informs.
The 2010 staging of the completion will get underway next month, with more than 230 communities to vie for honours.
Communities will be judged at the parish and national levels over a three-month period, with prizes awarded for Best Kept Community Facilities, Youth Development, Most Beautiful Community, Most Improved Agricultural Practices, Best Community Spirit and Self-reliance, Best Kept Educational Institution, and Best Cultural and Heritage Programmes.
Mrs. daCosta, who is the brainchild behind the contest, says that one of the challenges is finding judges and has appealed for persons “who have the country’s interest at heart” to come forward and volunteer.
Orientation sessions will be organised by the Social Development Commission (SDC), the main partner of the NBCCP, for the volunteer judges. Interested persons can contact any office of the SDC in Jamaica or email email@example.com
The programme is also seeking additional sponsorship for training, project planning, mentoring/counselling and other types of assistance provided to the communities.
The chairperson lauded the work of a number of organisations, private and public sector individuals that have been supporting the competition over the years. She informs that last year, trophies and 126 prizes valued at just over $16 million, ranging from the first prize of $2 million to $50,000 for parish prizes, were awarded.
Among the top sponsors is Digicel Foundation, which provides annual cash prizes of $10 million as well as technical support. Other partners include the Jamaica Social Investment Fund, Tourism Enhancement Fund, Culture, Health, Arts, Sports and Education (CHASE) Fund, Jamaica National Building Society, Development Bank of Jamaica, New Era Homes, Red Stripe, Caymanas Track Limited, Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ) and the Bank of Nova Scotia Foundation.
Additionally, a variety of other companies, government agencies and individuals have made contributions to assist with the hosting of awards ceremonies held to announce winners of the competition.
Mrs. daCosta is hoping that more communities and organisations will get involved in the NBCCP which will help to improve the lives of people by providing meaningful opportunities to meet their most pressing needs, including job creation.
The NBCCP seeks to encourage local governance, recognise community self-reliance and self-help activities and capabilities, while seeking to establish partnerships between communities and those who have technical, professional, spiritual, educational and financial capabilities.
It is organised in conjunction with several public and private sector organisations, non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), professional, educational and religious institutions, civic society and community representatives.
Any of the 785 communities represented by CDCs in Jamaica, as identified by the SDC can participate.
They are encouraged to approach funding institutions, private sector businesses and public sector organisations to assist them with grant funding or other forms of assistance to help with various types of projects and programmes in their communities.