Did You Know? Five Facts About Local Government in Jamaica

1. What is local government?

This is the arm of Government that focuses primarily on community development. It does so through the umbrella Ministry of Local Government and Community Development, which dispenses its function through four agencies and 14 local authorities:

  • Jamaica Fire Brigade
  • Board of Supervision (which is responsible for the nation’s infirmaries)
  • The National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA)
  • Social Development Commission (SDC)
  • Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM)
  • 12 Parish Councils along with the KSAC and Portmore Municipal Council (Local Authorities)

2. What is its mission?

According to its website, the Ministry of local government aims to:

“provide a sound policy, legal, technical and administrative framework that supports excellent service delivery and operational management by the Local Authorities and portfolio agencies, in a manner that advances the ideals of effective local governance and the goals of sustainable, community development, through a  purpose-driven and competent work force.”

3. What are local authorities?

Local authorities are those entities at the local level through which the Department of Local Government carries out its functions within communities. These entities are the KSAC, the Portmore Municipal Council and the 12 parish councils. They have two arms – the political and the administrative. The political arm is made up of councillors, headed by the mayor, who chairs the council and is responsible for determining policies. The administrative arm is headed by a manager who advises and implements the policies of, the council. Its responsibilities are:

  1. Minor water supplies and social water
  2. Municipal parks and beautification
  3. Cemeteries
  4. Markets
  5. Abattoirs
  6. Pounds
  7. Parking facilities
  8. Parochial roads
  9. Local sustainable development planning
  10. Drains and gullies
  11. Street lights
  12. Infirmaries and other welfare services

4. What does the National Solid Waste Management Authority do?

The NSWMA is responsible for the following:

  1. Establishing the standards and criteria that must be attained by operators in the solid waste sector.
  2. Licensing of solid waste companies, collection vehicles and disposal site operators.
  3. Contracting solid waste collectors for municipal garbage collection.
  4. Establishing collection zones in collaboration with the Parish Councils, the KSAC and the Town Planning Authority.
  5. Establishing tipping fees structures and rates for industrial and large commercial entities disposing of waste at the approved disposal sites, and
  6. Operating solid waste disposal sites in the medium term while preparing them for divestment to the private sector.

5. What is the SDC?

The Social Development Commission (SDC) is the principal community organization agency, working with Jamaica’s 783 communities. The SDC continues to execute its legal mandate to inter alia, “promote and control schemes for, and to do any act or thing which may directly or indirectly serve the advancement of – sport, social, cultural & economic development – for the people of Jamaica and workers in particular.”