The Department of Local Government (DLG) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) became official partners for Community Safety with the signing of a partnership agreement on September 10, 2009 at the Department’s Office on Hagley Park Road. The signing took place during the launch of the GOJ-UNDP project, entitled Strengthening Community Safety through Local Government Capacity-Building.
Speaking at the launch the Honourable Robert Montague, Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister with responsibility for Local Government said that the focus of the project was complimentary to the many other social, technical and administrative processes that the Department have been working diligently to enhance in the process of local government reform.
Minister Montague added that the issue of safe communities ranked high on the agenda of the Government of Jamaica, and by extension the Department of Local Government, as it seeks to decimate the scourge of crime and insecurity across our Island from different angles, including through our Local Authorities and Community Development partners.
In addition to enhancing the governance process and complementing the activities of the Reform programme, the Local Authorities are main partners in community-wide planning strategies for crime prevention. Councillors are in strategic positions to initiate and co-ordinate local action to adequately address the social demand, thus a partnership between local government and other stakeholders can enable prevention and ultimately help to critically minimize violence, crime and insecurity.
The Local Government Minister further committed to the project noting that its success would mark a major milestone in good governance under the reform programme. “In so doing, we wish to equip our own extensive partnership arrangements within the Local Government Fraternity to ensure that the level of awareness of Councillors and Community Leaders is developed, that significant capacity is built around factors that affect community safety issues and that the communities selected for pilot project intervention stand to benefit from a sustainable, interactive and deeply participatory approach as identified in the Project Document”, Minister Montague said.
The project is being implemented under the theme Reasserting Community Governance: The role of Local Government in Community Action for Women’s Safety and Security. The focus on women and girls is as a direct result of the statistics on violence against women and girls in Jamaica. According to the Centre for the Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse (CISOCA), sexual assault is listed as the second most common cause of injury to Jamaican women; and 70% of all sexual assaults in Jamaica in 2004 were reported against girls.
The overall objective of this project is to strengthen the local government system through the Local Authorities in making communities safer for women and thereby safer for all, through
Assessment of the local context of women’s safety
- Assessment and training of local government authorities and community based organizations in selected municipal areas relating to safety audits
- Adapting existing safety assessment and audit tools
- Conducting safety audits and local safety appraisals ensuring relevant Community Based Organizations (CBOs) are active participants
- Ensuring women are active participants in CBO-to-local government engagement on community safety
- Developing a strategy for implementation of safety audits and dissemination of results to stakeholders, and
- Evaluation of project and exploring means of replication.
The Strengthening Community Safety through Local Government Capacity-Building project is expected to run from mid 2009 to December 2010.