What community effort can achieve

What community effort can achieve

Thursday, October 29, 2020

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Word that the Government has no new resources to deal with the multi-billion-dollar damage caused by recent flood rains shouldn't come as a surprise.

The painful truth is that the national budget has already been cut to bits to deal with the ongoing horrendous consequences of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Hence Prime Minister Andrew Holness's call for government ministries and agencies to find ways to cut, carve, and save so the money needed to do priority repair and restoration work is found.

Bear in mind also that available evidence suggests there is more extreme weather up ahead for the immediate future. So the country has to prepare for the distinct possibility of even more flood damage.

Thankfully, the Atlantic Hurricane Season is approaching the end of its annual cycle. Hopefully, in a few weeks Jamaicans will be able to say, “It could have been worse” in relation to all the damage and dislocation.

Also up ahead is the traditional dry spell from December through March and even beyond. Jamaicans know from experience that droughts can be as devastating as floods. Such is the nature of our environment — made worse by climate change.

Yet, as a people, Jamaicans must not allow their heads to drop. The nation must stay strong and find practical, yet creative ways to handle the various challenges which, as a whole, constitute the most extreme adversity in the history of modern Jamaica.

And it can't be just the job of Government to cut costs and economise. Flooding, for example, is very often the result of blocked drains and gullies in and around communities.

All too often community members themselves are the culprits; dumping garbage and other discarded material in waterways.

Increasingly, too, rapid run-off which leads to flooding results from people needlessly concreting yards and driveways which prevent the natural soak away of water.

Enlightened people can help to prevent such damaging behaviour, simply by sharing information and knowledge with neighbours.

In that respect, we say again, that strong, well organised, well-led communities can make a huge difference.

We believe applause is due to the residents of August Town, who have been hit hard by gangland crime and antisocial behaviour down the years, but who keep battling back.

In the latest effort by that community to help itself, August Town, having benefited from the suppression of violent criminals by the security forces, is now bent on getting its young people off the streets and into situations conducive to learning, even as COVID-19 blocks traditional, face-to-face tuition.

Chairman of the August Town Community Development Council (CDC) Mr Andre Curtis says that, with the help of the security forces, a “citizens' curfew” will be in place next week to ensure children are in a supervised situation at home or a designated learning centre during school hours.

We say well done to Mr Curtis and his team for seeking to have community organisations and residents proactively assist those students who are without Internet access.

And, further, parents who are at home for one reason or another are being asked, where possible, to supervise not just their children, but others as well during school hours.

Jamaicans should take inspiration and example from the efforts of August Town to lift itself.


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