The Government will place an unprecedented emphasis on policies and programmes this financial year to increase the pace of economic and social activity for rural development.
“The task before us is not just to make Jamaica as a whole, the place of choice to live, work, raise families and do business. It is to make this a reality for people within their communities. This was recognized in 2009, when the Government unveiled Vision 2030, the National Development Plan,” declared Honourable Desmond McKenzie, Minister of Local Government and Rural Development.
“It recognized that while the national rate of poverty was declining, rural poverty was stubbornly high. It was also acknowledged that if the country is to achieve “developed country” status, rural economic growth and development has to keep pace with the rates experienced in urban centres.”
He was speaking during his 2022 Sectoral Presentation to the Houses of Representatives on May 25.
Data reveals that approximately 44% of Jamaica’s total population live in the rural parts of the country. Minister McKenzie explained that the challenge is to stimulate rural economic growth so that employment and incomes will increase, thereby reducing rural to urban drift among a range of social problems.
“We also have to sharply expand access to social and productive infrastructure, such as rural electrification and water. These ambitions have been held by successive governments for many years but have never been effectively implemented,” he said.
“Over the last six years, the system of Local Government has demonstrated that with adequate capital investment, it can both enhance and protect the lives of the people of Jamaica. With the governance and service delivery network of Local Authorities established across the country, the task of rural development is a natural portfolio fit, and I once again thank the Most Honourable Prime Minister for his confidence in me, to lead this charge that will accelerate recovery and prosperity.”
The Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development is spearheading the Rural Development Programme was introduced last year and is designed to give new life to rural communities over the next two years. The J$223 million pilot programme is Chambers Pen in Western Hanover. The works scheduled for this project include the installation of water and electrical infrastructure, internet access, roads, sidewalks, community parks and indigent housing.
“The works have not progressed at an ideal pace, but all the activities critical to this development pilot at Chambers Pen are being implemented. The Social Development Commission has completed a full Needs Assessment for the community and is implementing a skills training programme at a cost of one million dollars.
The Rural Agricultural Development Authority will also provide assistance to the farmers of Chambers Pen to the tune of J$2 million. Another J$28 million will be spent to construct four indigent homes – two family units and two studio units – and road rehabilitation works at a cost of $100 million.
CHAMBERS PEN REVITALIZATION PROJECT
- 300 houses in the community will be wired at a cost of J$27m. A Memorandum of Understanding was signed with the Jamaica Social Investment Fund, and works are expected to begin at the end of this month.
- The Community Centre and Basic School will be repaired at a cost of J$4m and J$20m respectively. The Ministry of Education opened the tender process for these repair projects on May 6.
- The Chambers Pen Water Supply System is also being implemented by our Agency, Rural Water Supply Limited at a cost of J$30m. A contract was signed for the provision of 3.4 kilometres of pipe and fixtures, while a separate tender process for the installation of the pipes was implemented. The successful bidder will be signing a contract with Rural Water before the end of May, and it is expected that works will commence in June.
- Approximately 1,500 persons in 300 households will benefit from the supply of 52,500 gallons of fresh water every day. Additionally, 300 service connections to the National Water Commission’s Great River Treatment Plant will be installed, and 300 Black Tanks will be provided, at a cost of J$9 million. These 400-gallon tanks will be distributed to each household in Chambers Pen.
- The official ground-breaking for the water supply project will be done next month and scheduled for completion by September month end.