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Jamaica’s lead community development agency, the Social Development Commission (SDC), is being reorganized so that it can provide greater service to communities and citizens.

The Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, Hon. Olivia Grange, who has portfolio responsibility for the SDC, informed yesterday (February 2) that the agency’s regional structure is being transformed into a parish arrangement in an effort to bring decision-making close to the people, who will benefit from development initiatives.

“Initiatives have a greater chance of success when the residents help to design them, participate in them, and are willing to own them,” Minister Grange stated in her contribution to the 2010/11 Sectoral Debate in Gordon House.

She stated that the SDC is using creative approaches in carrying out its mandate of community development by establishing and strengthening civil society organisations, including Community-based Organisations (CBOs), Community Development Committees (CDCs), Development Area Councils (DACs), and Parish DevelopmentCommittees (PDCs).

Minister Grange informed that during the last financial year, the SDC sought to increase the number of established fora for citizens to participate in decision-making involving their communities, and contributed to an increased level of citizens awareness of the local government reform process.

Some 254 new organized community structures emerged out of this process, while 480 groups were assessed, and 466 received organisational strengthening from the SDC.

“The work to ensure that communities get what they must, to develop, is being done in a very systematic way, by finding out what exists, what is needed, and what must be done next,” she noted.

It is for this reason that the SDC has been researching and preparing profiles for each of the close to 800 communities in Jamaica. Development area and parish profiles are also being carried out, which detail the resources, challenges and opportunities in communities, development areas, and parishes.

“These community profiles and maps, which we are also developing, will guide community development planners at all levels.

They will be very useful tools for policy makers, councillors, programme designers, community-based organisations and groups, foundations, businesses, residents… and the security forces,” she outlined.

The profiles will comprise: the Jamaican community database system with demographic, social, and economic information produced from quantitative and local participatory processes.

Contact:Alphea Saunders