Reaching the Communities – Forging Strategic Partnerships
1. Town Hall Meetings
Over the course of the year, NIA in collaboration with the Social Development Commission (SDC), National Association of Parish Development Committees (NAPDEC) and the Jamaica Civil Society Coalition (JCSC) organized several public fora across the island. Two of the town hall meetings, organized jointly with the JCSC, were focused on the need for a Single Anti-Corruption Agency, while the remainder carried the general theme of Combatting Corruption, Building Integrity, Engaging Communities.
Location of Town Hall Meeting
# of Attendees
|St Ann (Runaway Bay)||
|October 17, 2012||SDC, PDC,|
|Clarendon (May Pen)||
|November 22, 2013||JCSC|
|St. Mary (Port Maria)||
|December 13, 2013||PDC, SDC, NAPDEC|
|St. Andrew (Half Way Tree)||
|February 27, 2013||JCSC|
|St. Catherine (Spanish Town)||
|March 21, 2013||PDC, SDC, NAPDEC|
|St. Elizabeth (Malvern)||
|April 4, 2013||JCSC, Moravian Church|
|St. Catherine (Portmore)||
|May 8, 2013||JCSC|
|Portland (Port Antonio)||
|June 27, 2013||PDC, SDC, NAPDEC|
|August 29, 2013||JCSC, Hopewell DAC, SDC|
|St. James (Montego Bay)||150 (Approx.)||May 28, 2015||ECJ, SDC|
|Portland (Port Antonio)||400 (Approx.)||July 23, 2015||ECJ, SDC|
|Manchester (Mandeville)||450 (Approx.)||September 23, 2015||ECJ, SDC|
Though not reflected in the count from the attendance registers as presented here, several of these forums have seen an audience head-count in excess of 200 persons. In this way NIA was able to directly reach more than twelve hundred members of the public with the anti-corruption message. The actual reach greatly dwarfs this total as several of these Town Hall meetings were broadcast live on Nationwide 90 FM radio.
Throughout the organizing and staging of these meetings, NIA strove to maintain its non-partisan stance by ensuring the participation of representatives from both major political parties. It is noteworthy that this position is not common among civil society actors, but is adhered to by NIA as it not only demonstrates our non-political objectives, but provides the residents of these communities with an opportunity to engage their political representatives on matters of concern to them, not least of all matters relating to good governance and accountability. This bi-partisan representation was achieved at all except the Clarendon meeting. In 2015 and beyond NIA will again be taking its message on the road.
2. SDC/NAPDEC/NIA Conference of Community Development Committees
The NIA and SDC
An important element in spreading the message of the need to combat corruption and encourage the building of integrity is public education and public engagement. NIA recognizes however that this task cannot be achieved solely through its own efforts and as such have relied on the assistance of agencies like the Social Development Commission (SDC) to mobilize at the community level (grassroots). From as early as NIA’s first public outreach held in St Ann in June 2012, SDC proved instrumental in bringing out participants to this event. That relationship has continued and strengthened over this reporting period.
2013 Conference of Community Development Committees
In September of 2013, the Social Development Commission (SDC) in a meeting convened by NIA at its offices to make formal and improve existing relationships between the two organizations introduced and sought support for a planned staging of an island wide series of conferences beginning in September and expecting to culminate in November 2013 under the theme “The Governance Framework: The Pathway to Local Economic Development” to be staged in conjunction with the National Association of Parish Development Committees (NAPDEC). A major expected outcome of the conferences was stated as facilitating increased public advocacy for the timely passage of the revised Local Governance Acts. This was stated to be achieved by all CDC executives and members of the respective communities in which the CDCs operated across the island affixing their signatures to an island-wide petition to be presented to the Prime Minister of Jamaica at a planned event in early 2014. Other objectives included emphasizing the importance of local governance and its processes and making the link between governance and economic development in the minds of those in attendance.
NIA saw this an ideal opportunity and platform from which the message of NIA could be delivered across the entire island and also as an opportunity to forge stronger ties with ‘people’ organizations such as the SDC which is seen as a vital tool in reaching the masses and in particular people at the ‘grass root’ level in going forward. As such NIA formally signed an agreement and happily went on board.
Against this background NIA welcomed the opportunity to partner with SDC and NAPDEC on the execution of the aforementioned series of Community Development Committee Conferences. This in the knowledge that the partnership and the activities expected from it would most certainly assist in the strengthening of the local government framework and processes through the dissemination of critical and useful information. Also in the hope that the fervent discussions expected among participants of these conferences would prove empowering allowing them be more objective when making decisions, and to also, be more discerning of their leaders and decisions taken on their behalf.
NIA attended and presented at 8 conferences which saw an average of approximately 100 persons present at each. NIA also displayed booths offering information on the work of NIA while seeking support for its continued mission.
NIA used the opportunity to publicly lend its support to the need for local government reform, citizens’ participation and also and of equal importance clearly and illustratively made the linkages to the problems and difficulties experienced at the local level and island wide to the fact that in many instances these were either created or not addressed because of the prevalence of corruption. NIA’s message was well received, a fact highlighted in many instances by those in attendance.
The Social Development Commission reports that to date the conferences have achieved its intended objective and the process of acquiring the needed signatures as a sign of support for Local Government Reform is well on its way. Community members have been informed and re-energized and continue their call and peaceful agitation for the reform to be passed into law.
Strictly from an NIA point view, our own objective was met. NIA through these conferences have now gone into parishes previously not visited and has brought the message of the need to not only combat corruption but to act with integrity in all aspects of daily life. This is an important message and endeavor if NIA hopes of creating a mass support of its mandate as a means of effecting meaningful change is to be achieved.
In the coming weeks ahead NIA will seek to maintain and strengthen its partnership with SDC and also offer its support in any way possible to see the process of Local Government Reform into law.
3. National Neighbourhood Watch Movement’s 27th Annual Conference
NIA received yet another privilege of spending time with and bringing its message to Communities across Jamaica at the 27th Annual Neighbourhood Watch Conference held in November 2014. The presentation entitled “Creating a Safer Jamaica: One Community at a Time Identifying and Removing the Main Roadblock – Corruption!” was warmly received by the several communities drawn from across the island present at the conference. The conference hosted at Twickenham Park in St Catherine. The Presentation of the Executive Director was well received and can be watched here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pi-jS6i0wK0
4. ECJ/NIA Town Hall Series
National Integrity Action (NIA) in partnership with the Electoral Commission of Jamaica (ECJ) in 2015 staged a series of town hall meetings under the theme ‘Respect Your Vote – Your Right, Your Responsibility’. The series was organized with the pending General Elections in mind as well as in an effort to educate attendees on their roles and responsibilities in a democracy within and outside of an election period. The opportunity was used to denounce corrupt practices such as vote buying and vote selling as well as nepotism and political discrimination. Meetings were held in the three counties in capital towns of Montego Bay in St James, Mandeville in Manchester and Port Antonio in Portland. The series was executed with the support of the Social Development Commission (SDC) who were instrumental in mobilization for all three events.
Presentations delivered included: ‘The History of the ECJ’ by Professor Alvin Wint, a commissioner of the ECJ; ‘The Roles and Functions of the ECJ’ by Chair of the ECJ, Mrs. Dorothy Pine-McLarty; Professor Trevor Munroe also presented on ‘Money in Politics’ and “Speaking Out: Our Democratic Right”. Over 1000 persons in total attended all 3 meetings and from all accounts the series was successful in achieving the organizers’ shared objective of public education around democratic rights and election-related matters. This was amplified beyond the sitting audience as Nationwide 90 FM was also on hand to broadcast the proceedings, live, to the entire nation.
Increased citizen awareness and engagement are critical factors in achieving improved governance for Jamaica and NIA remains committed to supporting that process – through this series of town hall meetings as well as other forms of advocacy and activity.ECJ & NIA Respect Your Vote Townhall Meetings pictures