The Planning Institute of Jamaica in partnership with the Jamaica Social Investment Fund, Housing Agency of Jamaica, National Housing Trust, Social Development Commission, Community Renewal Program, Citizens Security and Justice and the Jamaica Public Service Company hosted its first symposium on Best Practices for Community Development on November 22, 2017.

The symposium themed “Joint Action for Total Solution” was rich in presentations in sessions covering governance, housing, livelihoods and Safety and Security.

Though BRACED deals with cross-cutting issues which span all the topics covered at the symposium, JamHabitat was invited to present alongside the Housing Agency of Jamaica in the session on housing. The team, Richard Jones (Public Relations and Marketing Manager-HAJ) and Salina Solomon (Land Tenure and Technical Specialist – Habitat) presented on “The state providing secure tenure and physical infrastructure for urban and peri-urban informal settlers”.

In addition to discussing land rights of the urban poor, the role of government in housing interventions and affordable housing for low income families, the presentation most importantly advocated for bringing the humanity back to these habitats and urged the audience to change their mindset from an us vs. them mentality, to an inclusive and empathetic one where we value each and every Jamaican citizen and endeavor to level the playing field so everyone can enjoy Jamaica land we love.

JamHabitat would like to thank the Housing Agency for their invitation to present with them and looks forward to our continued partnership.

Salina Solomon, Land Tenure and Technical Specialist with Habitat deliver a presentation on best practices on housing for community development while co-presenter Richard Jones, Marketing Manager at the Housing Agency of Jamaica looks on.



On the 2nd and 16th, November Jam-habitat office came alive when 47 excited recipients from Newland and Gregory Park received vouchers of $9,000 to exchange for building material from Hardware and Lumber.  The objective of this initiative was to assist vulnerable households to start the process of refurbishing their homes for resiliency against impending hazards. Bearing this in mind, recipient participated in an interactive session which exposed them to understanding hazards impacting their homes and how they can prioritize retrofitting their homes by:

  • Building strong foundations
  • Using the correct materials (treated vs untreated materials)
  • Bracing their walls.
  • Building and repairing their roof
  • Building their homes in safe locations

Hardware and Lumber partnered with Jam-Habitat by exposing the recipients to several types of building materials. Similarly, builders trained by Jam-habitat were on hand to assist recipients in the building process.


I learned the importance of the building code, building better structures; how to give guidance to other builders on building safer structures; safety and re-enforcement of buildings and safety connection (links) from foundation to roof.

These are all statements made by six residents of Newlands and Gregory Park who on October 5th, 2017 participated in a refresher workshop on building hurricane resilient wooden houses. Entrusted with retrofitting wooden houses in Newlands and Gregory Park, these builders took on the new mantle of supporting other community builders to build with disaster in mind.  During the day, they discussed:

  • Best location to construct houses.
  • Safety work around site (Preventive strategies).
  • Knowledge of the building codes and Disaster Reduction Mitigation.
  • The effectiveness of a solid foundation.
  • How to build rigid and strong walls and efficient ways to braced to prevent shifting.
  • Most effective bracing degrees.
  • Resilience roofing.



Participants of the Community Shelter Management training displaying certificates, posing with Facilitators, (l-r) Dr. Paulette Griffiths, BRACED Project Manager; Audrey Mullings, USAID/OFDA and Damien Williams, Field Operations Manager

On Friday, September 22, 2017, Jamaica Habitat for Humanity (Jam-Habitat), in partnership with Jamaica Red Cross, completed a two day training in Community Shelter Management for citizens of Gregory Park, Newland and Naggo Head. A total of 22 participants were trained, covering units:

  • Disaster Risk Management
  • National Shelter Management Structure
  • Criteria for Shelters
  • Running the Shelter (Administration & Operations)Problem Solving
  1. Gender
  2. Disability

This participatory training forms part of Jam-Habitat’s continued efforts towards building resilience and capacities against emerging disasters as it implements its disaster risk reduction (DRR) project in Portmore. It was important for Jam-Habitat to redesign this training to have community member participate, at the community level, as part of the National Disaster Response strategy and to be fully equipped to serve as shelter managers or support staff in a shelter.

The training is very timely given the shortage of shelter managers within the Portmore Municipality and at the St. Catherine Parish level. They now have a pool of trained persons from whom they can pull to assist in the event of an emergency.

At the end of the training, sixteen (16) of the participants received certificates of completion in Basic Disaster Management and Shelter Management with one (1) certificate of participation. Participants were expected to attend for both days and for the entirety of the training, each day to be eligible for a certificate. Asked about their stated expectations before the training, participants agreed that all of their expectations were met and in some cases, exceeded.

Jam-Habitat is proud of this training, which serves as a model for building capacities within communities.



The Survey123 Experience at Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN)

The JamHabitat team along with the community of Naggo Head conducted an enumeration exercise in the community. JamHabitat decided to use the ‘Survey123 for ArcGIS’ application to collect data. This application may be downloaded onto tablets or phones from the Google Playstore.  The cerebral programming of the survey tool was done with consideration of specific definitions, design, and formatting of questions. While formulating the questionnaire, the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) assisted with defining key terms and formatting some questions to meet the researching standards.

On Tuesday, September 12, 2017, the JamHabitat team along with enumerators was invited by STATIN to share their experience while using Survey123. In this forum, the community members expressed their thoughts using the Survey123 technology to capture and store data without internet access. They also discussed the Survey123 user interface and shared their experience regarding the compatibility of the application and tablets.


The team also spoke about the overall experience while programming the survey tool. They discussed the challenges encountered and gave recommendations where necessary. The very interactive and informative session allowed everyone present to gain new insights and to learn from the experience gained in the field using  Survey123.



On August 11th fifteen Ms. Celia Izquierdo Perez, an architectural graduate from Polytechnique University of Madrid upgraded the skills of the BRACED builders in safer building and retrofitting techniques. This one-day training took the builders through her newly produced manual, Hurricane Resilient Wooden Houses; safer building and retrofitting guidelines. This manual was developed by Celia after a one month’s internship studying the retrofitted building completed by these builders in Naggo Head, Newlands and Gregory Park.

This interactive training reminded these HEARTS trained BRACED builders of the key solutions to prevent wooden houses from being damaged in the event of a hurricane. The topics discussed included:

  • How to choose a good spot to build a new house
  • How to build a solid foundation to avoid overturning, sliding, and flooding
  • Bracing walls
  • Strong roofing and building
  • linking the building chain
  • Investing priorities when building

By all account the refresher course was well received, with many of the builders who expressed appreciation for the manual depicting their work; and to help them guide other builders in their community.



On May 10th 2017 15  (fifteen ) participants from Naggo Head, Gregory Park, and Newlands Road came together at the JamHabitat office to deliberate on how they can advocate for positive changes in their communities.  

The workshop was organised as part of the sensitisation program around BRACED II Land Tenure focus. 

 In order to gain a full understanding of the issues to be addressed in Naggo Head’s advocacy campaign, participants spent time analysing the root cause of the land tenure situation and the resulting consequences. This is detailed below in a problem tree. 


Vision for Naggo Head

To move from the outlined problems, participants were encouraged to move beyond what now exists into a future where solutions were already implemented. The intention here was not only to develop a new vision for the future, but also to develop the goal for their advocacy campaign. The new vision took into consideration the changes in the land, the social infrastructure; the governance framework and other changes. These are detailed below.


Vision for Naggo Head
Changes in the land Social Infrastructure Change in governance Other changes that took place
More modern constructionMore urban development

Green grass

More trees for beautification

New houses and roads

Safe houses

Better monitoring of gullies

Cleaner city

Better garbage collection

Removal of zinc fences


Road safetyFunctioning fire hydrants


Best kept lane and receptacles

Street lights

Community resource center

Community policy

Play areas for children

Proper drainage

Lanes Widening

Football turn into mini stadium


Active Citizen’s Association to stem crimeNeighbourhood watch

Active and powerful women’s movement


Outside organisationChase out the criminals

Land tenure

People have titles for their land

Changes in the people


People working together / harmonious living

Youth become good citizens

Children sent to school by functioning organisation to decrease illiteracy

Workshops to train youths in positive action/empowerment

Decrease unemployment

Less teenage pregnancy

Regularized utilities



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