State Minister for Local Government and Community Development, Hon. Colin Fagan, says the Government is working to implement a good governance structure, which is vital to the Local Government Reform process.
“We do not take it (governance) lightly. We view governance as a critical success factor at varying levels of the reform process. We have gone further by making it a centerpiece in the capacity-building and institutional strengthening programme within the local authorities,” Mr. Fagan said.
He was addressing the closing ceremony for a ‘Building Disaster Resilient Communities’ (BDRC) project at the Knutsford Court Hotel in Kingston on Wednesday (February 29).
The State Minister said that the Government subscribes and aspires to implement the basic tenets of good governance which he pointed out are: legitimacy and voice, as defined by participation and consensus; direction, as defined by a strategic vision; performance, as defined by responsiveness, effectiveness and efficiency; accountability, as defined by transparency and the way the government account to the public; and fairness as defined by the rule of law and equity.
“Many of these are embedded in our Local Government Reform process and as we implement reform, we will seek to deepen the integration of these principles,” he assured.
Mr. Fagan further stressed that the process of good governance not only involves the Government but administrators in the local authorities, citizens, the private sector, civil society and the media.
“Government therefore is only a ‘player’ in this matter of good governance and the thinking that ‘it is the government that must fix all the problems’ has to be understood in the sense that each player has a responsibility as part of the team if community development is to be sustainable,” he said.
In the meantime, the State Minister said he was pleased with the successful implementation of the BDRC project, noting that he was heartened when projects such as the BDRC initiative are not only conceptualised but they actually reach the communities.
“I will go further to say that while we have successfully implemented by transferring knowledge and skills there is the flip side to the whole process to complete the cycle of success, and that is, the communities themselves activating what they have taught to their benefit. Our communities will have to engage institutions such as their parish councils…and other government agencies,” he said.
Mr. Fagan further stated that while it may be necessary in the initial stages of the project implementation to increase awareness and education to those who have limited knowledge on disaster risk reduction issues, “this is the format that we would wish to take forward in implementing disaster risk reduction as part of good governance process in our communities”.
“I welcome the recommendations for follow up that the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) will provide and pledge the Ministry’s support to monitor the implementation and provide the necessary policy support as needed,” he assured.
In 2008, ODPEM launched the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)-funded ‘Building Disaster Resilient Communities’ project as part of a targeted programme to improve the levels of resilience at the community level.
The $43 million project sought to build or strengthen the capacity for disaster response and management in 28 communities through training, preparation of community disaster plans and implementation of small community disaster risk reduction projects.
The project was developed to have every community in Jamaica resilient to natural disasters, working with local and central government levels in a networked system to take sustainable long term hazard prevention measures, and after every natural or man-made disaster is able to assess damaged and analyse needs, ensuring that no vulnerable person is left without the assistance they require.
By Alecia Smith-Edwards, JIS Reporter