Building sustainable communities in Jamaica
As World Habitat Day was celebrated on October 2, let us address the challenges faced by marginalised communities in Jamaica and work towards transforming them into sustainable neighbourhoods.
For example, the rapid growth of informal settlements in resort areas, such as Montego Bay, Negril, and Ocho Rios, has resulted in increased crime rates, environmental degradation, and strained infrastructure. These issues directly undermine the sustainability and inclusivity goals.
As the Community Organization for Management and Sustainable Development (COMAND), a national non-government umbrella organisation, we are proud to have taken the lead in celebrating World Habitat Day. This year’s theme ‘Resilient Urban Economies: Cities as Drivers of Growth and Recovery’ calls upon all stakeholders to reflect on the state of their towns and cities and recognise the fundamental right of every individual to adequate shelter.
We invite you to start the important conversation and take decisive action. Together we can explore innovative solutions that will create resilient urban economies, driving growth and recovery while ensuring safe and secure housing for all.
At COMAND we firmly believe that every person, regardless of their social and economic background, deserves access to adequate housing. We are committed to empowering individuals, mobilising communities, and creating lasting positive change. By addressing the challenges faced by marginalised communities and transforming them into sustainable neighbourhoods, we can build a more inclusive and equitable society.
Today we call upon all stakeholders, including government agencies, non-governmental organisations, community leaders, and residents to collaborate and take bold, immediate action. Let us work hand in hand to develop comprehensive strategies that prioritise the development of affordable housing options and the improvement of infrastructure in marginalised communities. By doing so we can uplift the lives of those living in these settlements and create a brighter future for all.
Specifically, we urge the National Housing Trust (NHT) to allocate a significant portion, such as 20 per cent of its annual budget, towards infrastructure development in informal communities. This targeted investment will provide much-needed support to the bottom quintile of the population who are unable to afford solutions in the formal sector. By addressing infrastructure challenges, we can create more equitable and inclusive housing options for all.
We recognise that providing infrastructure in informal communities comes with its own set of challenges, including land tenure issues, limited resources, and informal construction practices. However, we believe that by adopting participatory approaches, upgrading and retrofitting existing infrastructure, building collaborative partnerships, exploring innovative financing models, providing capacity-building programmes, and implementing supportive policies and legal reforms, we can overcome these challenges and create successful outcomes.
Together, we have the power to make a tangible difference and ensure that every individual in our community has access to safe and secure housing.
Your support is crucial as we strive to build sustainable and thriving communities in Jamaica. Let’s create a legacy of positive change that will benefit generations to come.
O Dave Allen
The Community Organizations for Management and Sustainable Development