SDC has big plans for Clarendon's 79 communities
MAY PEN, Clarendon:
Clarendon's branch of the Social Development Commission (SDC) is promising heightened community involvement for all 79 communities in the parish in 2017.
Branch manager Baldvin McKenzie said focus will be on bolstering local economic development through one of the Commission's seven programmes, the Local Economic Development Support Programme (LEDSP).
"As part of the drive to improve economic development that will eventually impact positively on the life of residents in communities, there are several local resources that need to be put to good use by turning them into viable business," McKenzie noted.
Expanding on the Commission's plans, McKenzie said it will be engaging the communities in assisting residents to identify the local resources, business ideas and then helping them to transfer those ideas into viable businesses.
"We help them to develop business plans that can be used to seek financial support from various financial sources here and abroad," he said.
The LEDSP is SDC's flagship programme, and as such, McKenzie said great work will be invested in engaging all 79 communities in the parish.
According to McKenzie, the other area of focus is strengthening the Participatory Governance Framework through the establishment of civil society groups such as Community Development Committee (CDC).
"These groups are umbrella organisations that represent each community. So far, over 60 per cent of the 79 communities are with active CDCs, and effort will be made to increase the CDC coverage to 80 per cent by the end of the year," he shared.
Also on the agenda for SDC Clarendon is improving the number of community profiles in the parish.
Of the 79 communities, McKenzie informed that there are already 63 with community profiles.
"These profiles capture everything about the community such as economic, educational levels, infrastructure, health status, employment among other useful information," he said.
Stressing the importance of the profiles, McKenzie told The Gleaner that they prove to be of tremendous assistance in the planning process.
Database in progress
"The community research and database also compile listing such as churches, educational institutions, civil society organisations, playfields, public facilities and we also map the community resources and develop asset maps of each community for this year," he said, adding that the process will continue this year.
On Friday, January 27, SDC will be kicking off the first of its community engagements with a Geographic Information System (GIS) Day on the grounds of the old police station in May Pen.
The event is aimed at highlighting the importance of GIS in planning and to showcase the available maps in Clarendon.
"We also will announce the winners of a mapping competition that we launched early last month."
With sport being a driving force when it comes on to community interaction, McKenzie said there are plans also to use that medium to heighten the involvement.
"The SDC will be hoping to make a positive impact in the communities on crime reduction through the Sports Development Programme as it allows for communities to interact and also provide an avenue for SDC and other agencies to engage Communities," McKenzie said.
He said he is confident in the progress that can be garnered throughout 2017 as this year's involvement is very encouraging.