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“Jamaica needs a call to action not a document full of pretty prose”
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“Jamaica needs a call to action not a document full of pretty prose”

Jamaica’s National Development Plan is awash with fine rhetoric, but it is action that is required to overcome economic and social challenges, writes Nakeeta Nembhard, 25, a Commonwealth Correspondent from the county of Middlesex.

This year marks 50 years since Jamaica became an independent state, over which time the country has made outstanding achievements despite facing several challenges.

However a number of issues still remain which have experienced little improvement relative to the country’s success in social and economic indices.

The National Development Plan, Vision 2030, outlines a host of objectives to be accomplished within the next 18 years in order for Jamaica to realise developed country status. Noteworthy is the fact that the document is prefaced by a similar observation that Jamaica’s development has “been characterized by paradoxes and potential”.

Among the challenges which the plan seeks to address are:

  • Relatively low rates of economic growth
  • Low productivity in most sectors
  • Lack of national consensus on critical socioeconomic issues
  • Severe environmental degradation
  • High rates of violent crime
  • Issues of governance

In spite of these challenges, it is the systematic approach to harnessing the potential to which the National Development Plan makes reference which will lead to the realisation of the outcomes it had specified.

Such an approach will have to begin not only at the country level but more specifically on a parish and community level. A number of parishes have initiated, or in some instances, completed development plans using Vision 2030 as the overarching guide.

These Parish Development Plans have sought to provide comprehensive and strategic approaches based on the parishes’ resources and competitive advantages, taking into account the needs of the different communities which comprise them. However, with very few exceptions these Parish Plans have, similar to the national version, remained merely nice prose or wishful rhetoric, instead of guides for active implementation.

Efforts at achieving development objectives need to be in tandem with these extensively drafted plans, both at national and parish level, in order to effectively address challenges affecting Jamaica’s growth. Internationally acclaimed author, Professor Orlando Patterson, in an address to the University of the West Indies 2012 Commemoration Celebrations stated that, “We [Jamaicans] have been very successful in the cultural aspect – our music, athletics, our food – but on the other hand, we have been lacking in other areas of development, and that leaves a lot to be desired.”[1].

Professor Patterson’s lament serves to further iterate the imperative to address the country’s developmental challenges and has been echoed across numerous stakeholder groups within Jamaican society, with an intensity which grows as Jamaica nears its 50th birthday.

The failure to operationalise these plans serves to not only ensure that development remains an elusive dream for the next 18 years but for many years beyond, with the same challenges in tow. After 50 years what is needed is a call to action and not another plan with pretty prose.


[1] Quote taken from article entitled “We Should be Ashamed” published in The Daily Gleaner on February 20, 2012 accessed via http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20120220/lead/lead5.html

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About me:

“I am a development practitioner whose particular area of interest is the relationship between people and their physical environment. My formal training has allowed me to gain an appreciation of the development process and the factors involved in achieving national development objectives.

“I hold a Masters of Science Degree with distinction in Sociology and am a recipient of the Prime Minister’s National Youth Award for Academics. Currently I am employed to the national trade and investment promotion agency, JAMPRO, as a consulting officer in planning and policy development.”

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?

To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/commonwealthcorrespondents/

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