NEEDS: A General Outlook
UFOH – Jamaica nonprofit organization | June 23, 2017 | Lorrimer Burford
Complex as they are they can and will be solved
Highgate Needs Today
An analysis of Highgate today shows that homicide, lack of economic growth and corruption, which is reportedly rampant in Jamaica today, has also affected Highgate. Therefore, the needs of Highgate is a reflection of the needs of our island (and vice versa) which requires help from non-government organizations (NGOs) such as economic development nonprofit organizations, Jamaican charities and Jamaican nonprofit organizations such as the United Friends of Highgate.
While the World Bank reported that Jamaica’s real per capita GDP increased at an average of just one percent per year, the St. Mary Strategic Development Plan, stated that the economy of St. Mary has declined due mainly to the collapse or decline of its agricultural mainstays: coconut, sugar and the banana industries. This has a very huge negative impact considering that St. Mary’s economy is largely agricultural with some 7.3% of its total area under some form of agriculture.
Unemployment, poor social services, deteriorating roads and poor communication services have led to the massive decline of the parish’s economy. Thus in 2002 the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) named St. Mary the poorest parish in the Island. (As a footnote, in 2005 the mighty tourist parish of St. Ann was reported to be the poorest parish, which did not go down very well with its residents).
St. Mary, and by extension Highgate, is said to have low levels of economic activity and sees very little investment by way of large hotels or large manufacturing entities. Research shows that the elastic nature of the soil in St. Mary makes road maintenance difficult. The type of soil which is mainly Richmond Shale and Belfield Clay lends itself to slippage and has contributed to the collapse of sections of roads throughout the parish.
According to the St. Mary Strategic Development Plan, the Junction road is the major route connecting the parish to the capital city Kingston. Large commercial vehicles such as tractor trailers cannot comfortably maneuver on this road. Therefore tractor trailers have to drive through Chalky Hill into Ocho Rios to get to the parish. This leads to higher transportation costs for businesses and therefore higher prices for goods and services.
The St. Mary Development Plan, has it that the most noted of issues to the people of St. Mary is that of the poor Infrastructural services. The parish has long been known as the “pot hole” parish. There was a note that the completion of the North Coast Highway Improvement Project would change this but to date Highgate has not benefitted from this.
There is a need for proper roads. It is necessary to resurface some of the current alignment of roads throughout the town.
Need for Adequate Water Supply
Another area of great concern is adequate supply of water. According to the Development Plan there has also been plans for the development and extension of the current water system. It stated that of particular significance is the improvement of the supply from Annotto Bay into the Highgate and Whitehall areas of the parish.
Dr. Marias Guy, M.P. for St Mary informed UFOH that there is insufficient water to supply growing needs of the town, this problem he said, is with the source and that there have been plans to bore wells in the Wag Water basin and to have water pumped into the existing scheme. Dr. Guy said there are still some kinks to be ironed out, including the funds to provide for drilling and installation. According to Dr. Guy the NWC is trying to sort out these problems. He felt that this is a state problem quite large in cost magnitude.
To date the community suffers from lack of proper water supply. Even the Health Center slows down or stops its operations when there is no water, which happens frequently.
There is a need for proper and sufficient water supply, not only to satisfy residential needs but for commercial demands such as the health care facilities and schools.
Need for Adequate Electrical Power
The electrical power situation in Highgate, similar to many rural areas of Jamaica, is in a state of unpredictability. No one knows when electricity will not be available; when the town will be dark. Naturally a proper electricity supply system is crucial to the operations of good health care, education, business, religious and other systems for the prosperity of a community. There is therefore critical need for adequate supply of electrical power for the community.
Although the needs identified seem unsurmountable, especially for a small town in Jamaica, proper planning can and will lead to solutions over time. Large amounts of funds are needed therefore, strategies for getting these funds must be devised (we have ideas of getting funding for these purposes). No doubt though, that meaningful economic development which leads to employment, especially for the youth, must be attained and it will only begin with a plan, an idea and the efforts of every sector of the community.
We, as members of the United Friends of Highgate (both Highgate and Florida chapters), believe that by putting our foot forward in the first step towards building a team which is representative of every sector of the community, we will launch the process of community development in Highgate. UFOH believes it can begin immediately by approaching capable members of the community to help in the team building process.