Failure to invest adequately in social development corrodes culture — ChangThursday, November 11, 2021
KINGSTON, Jamaica — Minister of National Security Dr Horace Chang says the failure of successive administrations to invest heavily and strategically in the social, human and infrastructural development of several communities have led to entrenched corrosiveness across the nation and rampant criminal gang activity.
According to Chang, as a consequence, the anti-social practices have also “eroded the spirit of neighbourliness” that is intrinsically Jamaican.
The minister was delivering the keynote address at the sixth edition of the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) enabled Best Practice Symposium for Social & Community Development.
He shared that the caustic realities permeating the social fabric of Jamaican society are particularly acute in communities that comprise what is termed “the southern crescent” of the corporate area.
The southern crescent ranges from Bull Bay in eastern St Andrew to Ferry, which borders St Catherine.
“These communities contribute approximately 350 murders between January and August of this year. This is significant by any measure,” Chang noted.
“While I believe that strong community involvement is the backbone for the successful renewal of our communities, it is even more critical that we adopt a community development approach to crime prevention. In other words, we need vibrant community development policies and programmes to support our crime prevention measures to effectively deal with criminal violence,” he continued.
The minister added that the Government has taken a policy shift in that regard.
“We are strengthening the capacity of the police to effectively manage heavily armed criminals by intensifying investment, as a matter of priority in the social, human and infrastructural development of the most volatile of our communities,” he said.
Meanwhile, Chang said hope, pride and purpose are being restored in the residents of these troubled communities and they are also being equipped with the necessary skills to pursue alternative life choices, with earning possibilities outside of crime.
Furthermore, Chang noted that the Zones of Special Operations (ZOSO) reflects the totality of this policy shift.
“Over time, the ZOSOs will be featured in all the communities that require these special measures,” he said, adding that “the nexus between community underdevelopment and crime is well known”.
The minister explained that when there is a lack of developmental opportunities, the scarcity of basic essential amenities, such as public health clinics and appropriately staffed infant and primary schools, adequate street lighting and access to potable water, it creates an ecosystem that gives birth to and sustains gangs.
“In response to this reality, this administration has developed an all-of-government structure for social investment, with the understanding that by investing in the social development of the people it will result in strong human capital, which is a major plus for the future of this country,” Chang said.