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SDC working to advance community development

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

ST JAMES, Jamaica (JIS) — Director of the Social Development Commission (SDC) Dr Dwayne Vernon says the agency continues to carry out its mandate to facilitate the economic progress of communities in order to advance national development.

He noted that the entity has mapped and identified 775 communities in which it is working to support development.

“Development has to be local,” Vernon said. “People must be involved. For persons to get involved they have to be invited… they have to be made to feel a part of the process… and they must be embraced. This is why we start at the community level,” he said.

He was addressing the SDC's Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Day under the theme 'Guiding the Change… Shaping the Future of Community Development', held at Addison Park in Brown's Town, St Ann last Friday.

Vernon said that as the primary community development agency working in Jamaica, the SDC is the only place where data can be found at a local level.

He noted that any other statistic that is gathered would be done at a national level “where you would have to extrapolate. That would mean using national data to try and develop a local space”.

He informed that there has been significant progress in making demographic, social, economic, spatial, governance and institutional information on communities available and accessible to citizens, communities, policymakers and other stakeholders, both national and international.

“This is done through the development of community profiles, community priority plans, maps and listings of institutions and infrastructure,” he pointed out.

Dr Vernon explained that GIS Day provides an opportunity for the SDC, through its Community Research and Database Programme (CRDP), to share and promote the use of GIS technology to aid in the planning and development of communities.

“The CRDP programme focuses mainly on the development and updating of community data to be used as the basis for planning, project development and evaluation,” he informed.

The goal of the programme is to establish and maintain a database of community maps and profiles, comprising spatial, social, economic, governance and environmental information as the basis for planning. The objectives of the programme are to contribute to the knowledge of the socio-economic situations of communities; manifestations of poverty and development challenges being faced by the communities, as well as to provide disaggregated data to inform policy and programme design at the local and national levels,” Vernon explained.