CHARLESTOWN NEVIS (December 07, 2010) — Minister of Community Development and Deputy Premier on Nevis Hon. Hensley Daniel said the Nevis Island Administration (NIA) was confident of its approach to community development over the past four years.
His assessment came on Thursday at a ceremony to break ground for the first ever Community Centre/Hurricane Shelter for the village of Combermere and surrounding areas at a cost estimated to be almost $1million. He said the investment was in people and the NIA was anchoring its programmes on the development of people.
According to Mr. Daniel, the sitting Administration was careful to not put the cart before the horse as had been the case with the prior administration. Over the past four years his Ministry had designed a range of community programmes tailored to the needs of the island’s youths and elders alike, ahead of actual construction of the facilities.
“These centres are to become focal points in the community and here is where public education is to take place. This is suppose to help us to understand the critical issues of development in our country because I get a sense that we are taking our queue from talk show hosts, who are less able and less committed and far, far away from understanding the fundamentals of development in the country.
“I am to hope that this centre will have public education so that we could raise the consciousness of the people and get people to understand a number of things,” he said.
Mr. Daniel noted that the type of community development that was being promoted took on board the process through the community identified its needs and objectives; develop the confidence and will to work at them, find the resources internal or external to deal with them and to take the necessary action required to achieve them.
In so doing, he said that approach to community development would extend and developed cooperatives, collaborative attitudes and practices in the community.
“What we are doing here is to complete the circle…This is not an accident, this is strategic involvement where the government recognises that in order to arrest anti social behaviour in the community, we have to arrange and organise a series of programmes at the community level to address the problem.
“If you make a comparison with our programmes with the rest of the OECS you will see that ours are anchored at the community level and this building will help us to go forward, forward and forward,” he said.
The Minister listed a number of programmes that would be introduced among them the Homework Assistance Programme for primary school students, the Reading Starts with Us programme, Computer Education, the Quiz Bowl, essay contests and cooking classes.
He told those present at the ceremony that because of the facility they would play host to communities from outside Nevis and from other parts of the island.
Mr. Daniel also pointed to the development of programmes that would prepare members of the community for employment and also programmes related to the Arts.
“We are going to develop also some employment programmes which help people to understand issues regarding interviewing, preparation, resume writing and getting people ready for the job.
“With respect to the arts, we are going to have art and crafts programmes, creative writing clubs, photography clubs, music, dance and drama and we have been in discussions with some people who want to produce some films in Nevis but we are going to have some movies here at evenings and those are to be done by the communities,” he said.
The Social Development Minister further explained that leadership and entrepreneurship programmes would also be introduced at the centre. He said the reason for this was because the NIA wanted the people of Nevis to take advantage of the programmes already available in the business sector. Therefore there will be programmes in marketing, financial management, business incubation and the development of business plans.
Notwithstanding, Mr. Daniel said the NIA took seriously the matter of business and community development. He said in light of the anti social behaviour which had become quite common in some communities, the Administration had take steps to position itself to respond accordingly and as such community development had become a matter of significant importance.
He also pointed to the decision to put into action Community Development officers, whose duty it was to know the communities and their needs and relay the necessary information to the Ministry so that the needs could be addressed.
“We have five parishes in Nevis and we have a community development officer for each parish. In addition to that, we have community centre managers whose responsibility it is to organise and coordinate the programmes in the centre. So when the centre is built somebody will be responsible for organising the programmes,” he said.