KINGSTON — The Social Development Commission (SDC) is developing community profiles on the 783 communities in the island, 80 per cent of which should be completed within the next two years.
The Commission has been researching and preparing profiles on the resources, challenges and opportunities of each of the 783 areas.
Speaking at the Jamaica Information Service (JIS) ‘Think Tank’ on April 6, Research Director of the SDC, Juanita Reid, said that profiles have been completed for 518 communities.
“This is approximately 65 per cent of our target. Most importantly, approximately 80 per cent or 416 of these 518 community profiles were completed since 2007,” she said.
Ms. Reid said the profiles provide baseline data to government funding agencies and other stakeholders for the implementation of programmes and activities in an effort to address some of the concerns and needs at the community level.
Additionally, she said the data is used to influence the planning process at the community level. According to Ms Reid, the data collected has resulted in “improved service delivery” to communities, based on the real needs that exist at that level.
“We recognise that there is a gap. Most of the data that is available nationally is not sufficiently aggregated and accessible for community development planning process. We believe that this community research is a critical basis for encouraging sustainable development in communities and for improving the responsiveness of most of our ministries, departments and agencies,” she said.
Since 2009, Ms. Reid said the SDC has been making efforts to share the data collected. “All our Members of Parliament have received profiles for at least two communities in their constituency, through Minister Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange, Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, who has responsibility for the Social Development Commission,” she added.
The Research Director said that the SDC has been moving to recoup some of the production costs, as a result of the high demand for the data.
To this end, she said a Costing Guideline was developed and is now being used to guide the distribution and sharing of the research information. However, she noted that the costs recovered do not represent the true worth of the profile activities undertaken.
Some of the agencies which have requested profiles include the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), Urban Development Corporation (UDC), Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), Dispute Resolution Foundation, Ministry of National Security, GraceKennedy Limited, National Works Agency (NWA), National Water Commission (NWC) and several international funding agencies.
By E. Hartman Reckord, JIS Information Officer