Local Economic Development Support Programme
As the principal agency responsible for the social and economic development of communities, the Social Development Commission (SDC) has the awesome task of ensuring that its programmes have a positive and transformational impact on people’s lives. A comprehensive corporate plan outlines the varied strategies that are adopted and the programmes that are designed and implemented to effect organizational mandate. In addition, the SDC is recognizably the principal community/citizen mobilization agency with a de facto responsibility for building the participatory ethos of communities to aid effective policy-making thereby contributing to “good” governance outcomes and the democratic climate of the country.
The strategic focus of the SDC places the organisation in an enviable position to see first-hand the extent of the socio-economic fall-out that has occurred in communities as a result of the down-turn in the domestic and global economies as well as the creativity and resourcefulness of community members to create social value. In addition, deployment of analytic tools such as PAR sessions and the formulation of community profiles and community priority plans in consort with communities have provided useful information and data that allow the SDC to have a greater appreciation for the issues facing residents as well as their coping strategies. However, notwithstanding the wider social impact of the priority concerns of residents, the SDC acknowledges the critical role of economic factors in creating an atmosphere of prosperity within communities. It is against this background that the SDC has developed a Local Economic Development Support Programme (LEDSP).
Recognizing that there are many definitions for LED, the SDC proposes to adopt the definition promulgated by the Common Local Government Forum (CLGF) in 2011 that forms the essence of the Cardiff Consensus and which reads:
Local economic development is a process which brings together different partners in a local area to work together and harness local resources for sustainable economic growth.
The preceding definition reconciles the strategic and integrative functions of the SDC generally and helps to clarify its role in LED, specifically. Consequent upon which, the Board and Management conceive of the SDC’s role as facilitator and coordinator of LED in Jamaica.
The LEDSP programme has four components:
- Capacity Building: The foremost activity on the plan is the strengthening of capacity within the SDC that will entail equipping officers with the requisite knowledge and skills to guide communities in their LED initiatives. Community groups will also benefit from capacity building activities to enable them to develop business plans and manage existing projects effectively. The beneficiaries of these capacity building initiatives are CDCs, DACs and PDCs.
- Networking and building partnerships: Information is critical to an effective LEDSP and thus the SDC prioritizes the creation of a database of LED projects, partners, and opportunities for funding as well as for marketing and general information provision.
- Direct Support: Leadership development is essential for scale and continuity of LED and will involve training in grant writing, communicating effectively, use of emotional intelligence, etc. Equally important is technical support to complete and track grant project proposals. Another area of direct support will be the SDC’s role to facilitate the interaction between communities, MDAs and non-state actors.
- Implementation of an incentive scheme: a national competition that aims to identify the community groups that are creatively involved in viable local economic development projects will be instituted. It is expected that from the exposure and winnings that more community initiatives will be undertaken or expanded as well as that the LEDSP will be enhanced.
Recognizing that there are multiple actors at the national and local levels, the SDC confines its role to working with organized community groups through the participatory governance framework, specifically CDCs, DACs and PDCs as depicted below.