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MONTEGO BAY — Thousands of residents of six volatile communities in St. James are soon to benefit from a range of sustainable development initiatives to be undertaken through partnership between the Ministry of National Security and the Social Development Commission (SDC).

The communities are Farm Heights, Rose Heights, Canterbury, Glendevon, Granville and North Gully.

Already, a memorandum of understanding (MoU) has been signed between the Ministry’s Citizens Security and Justice Programme (CSJP) and the SDC, under which the latter agency will develop profiles of the selected areas. The work, which will be carried out through $16 million in funding from the CSJP, will establish critical socio-economic information, which will ensure effective facilitation and delivery of programmes.

“It is not appropriate and it is not advisable to go into a community to try to facilitate the changes to peoples’ lives in that community without having a baseline as to what is there,” said Programme Manager of the CSJP, Simeon Robinson.

He was speaking to JIS News at a planning meeting held on July 12, 2011 at the Wexford Court Hotel in Montego Bay, which involved stakeholders from government departments and agencies, community members, civil society, and the private sector.

“You need to know what is there and then you develop from there. When you have conversation with the community during the process of facilitation, mobilisation, sensitisation, you have to have a sense as to where the community is so that you can have informed discussion with the communities and with partners,” he added.

Meanwhile, Acting Parish Manager for the St. James branch of the SDC, Randy Hayle, lauded the partnership among the stakeholders.

“It is this collaborative effort that will bring together collective knowledge and resources, which, when utilised, will result in improved standards of living, good governance, economic prosperity and improved service delivery within communities,” he stated.  

He noted that the MoU between the SDC and the CSJP “is critical for the enhancement of safety and security issues at the community level … this is the planning process that we want to advance within communities and which is critical to the sustainability of the parish of St. James."

Research Director at the SDC, Juanita Reid in her presentation at the consultation, explained that one of the specific objectives of the programme is to contribute to the reduction in crime and inter-personal violence and to increase the perception of safety within communities.

“The SDC, like the CSJP, is very concerned about community safety and is committed to the use of participatory processes to guide communities to effectively plan and develop strategies to achieve their desired future, which we think, is only possible in a safe and secured environment. 

“This approach to community development is influenced by sustainable development framework that focuses on economic prosperity, social wellbeing, environmental preservation and good governance in our communities,” Ms. Reid stated.

 

By GLENIS ROSE, JIS Reporter