Printer Friendly

Community-based Approaches and Measuring the SDGs/Approches Communautaires Pour Evaluer et Mesurer Les Odd/Enfoques Basados en la Comunidad para Evalular y Medir los Ods.

In September 2015, at the United Nations General Assembly, UN member-states all adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This agenda is comprised of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to be achieved by the year 2030, and 169 detailed targets which cover the social, economic and environmental dimensions of development. It is a plan of action intended to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all (United Nations n.d.).

Countries are focusing on implementing suitable strategies that will lead to the achievement of these SDGs given available resources and key priorities. These strategies have led to several nations establishing their own 2030 agendas to achieving development. The responsibility of achieving the SDGs is shared, as government, community-based associations, civil society and the private sector, all have a part to play in the successful implementation of the SDGs and the ultimate realization of developed status. This also requires a solid framework of indicators and statistical data to monitor progress, inform policy and ensure accountability of all stakeholders. This will provide the foundation for a robust follow-up and review mechanism of progress regarding the SDGs (Livingston 2016).

Community-based Approaches (CBAs) to development have been acknowledged as an effective and critical method for sustainable development (Fraser et al. 2006; Warburton 2013). The UN and various scholars have identified local communities not only as stakeholders in, but also crucial components of, the process of achieving the SDGs (GTF et al. 2016; UN Women 2016). In the establishment of the SDGs, the United Nations stressed the importance of measurements, assessments and evaluations in the achievement of these goals, and the supporting data, including key community level data (United Nations University 2017). Measurements and assessments at the community level allow for well-informed prioritization of projects and other endeavours, as well as an understanding of which of these projects were successful and to what extent (Reed et al. 2006).

While the thrust towards development is a global initiative, the process of achieving this status includes local initiatives within each individual country. The term 'localization' refers to this undertaking and is defined as the "process of taking into account subnational contexts in the achievement of the 2030 Agenda" and denotes implementation, measurement and assessment strategies at the local level (GTF et al. 2016, 6).

Furthermore, participatory development, or the adoption of CBAs, as the best method for connecting with intended beneficiaries, has led to a greater focus on the role of local participation (Mansuri and Rao 2013). It has also been suggested that local participation can support the achievement of development goals through better targeting and efforts to improve overall coverage, more accurate assessments of necessary services and increased accountability and transparency (Mansuri and Rao 2013). There have been continued calls for exploration and inclusion of non-traditional data sources, small data and citizen-generated data in measuring the SDGs (OECD 2017; GPSDD 2017). These data sources can contribute to initiatives for identifying and assisting the most vulnerable, and progress towards achieving the goals to ensure that no one is left behind. A critical component required to bolster these potential benefits is a system of assessment and measurement, and this paper explores a rural community's awareness and alignment of the SDGs, in the context of their community-based approaches and national initiatives to localize the SDGs. The paper focuses on identifying and describing the alignment of community initiatives with the SDGs, and the community's approaches to assessing the progress of these projects. The research context for the study is the community of Jeffrey Town, located in St. Mary, Jamaica, and their community-based approaches which are led by the Jeffrey Town Farmers' Association (JTFA) and Women's Group. In exploring community efforts related to sustainable development, researchers sought to discuss their community initiatives, perceptions and prioritization of the SDGs at the community level, as well as their methods of measuring and assessing their progress towards development. The research was conducted over a two-month period and involved the participation of community members from various demographic groups.

The paper proceeds as follows. In the next section, we discuss literature related to the concepts of sustainable development, community-based approaches to assessing development and the SDGs. This is followed by a description of the methodology. The findings and implications are then discussed.

Related Literature

This section discusses approaches to assessing sustainable development, and measuring the progress towards achieving the SDGs, in the context of community-based participatory approaches.

Sustainable Development Approaches

Historically, earlier traditional approaches to development were sometimes dictated or influenced by power, finances and technical expertise, with development operationalized as a hegemonic construct (Warburton 2013). This top-down approach to development was criticized for ignoring context and reinforcing inequalities (Warburton 2013). However, coming out of the Brundtland Commission, the concept of sustainable development marked a shift in the agency afforded to different players in the development debate.

The Brundtland Commission (1987), as well as the 1992 United Nations (UN) Conference on Environmental Development, where world leaders signed on to Agenda 21, called for a more inclusive and collective approach to development. This new approach advocated for community or grassroots participation in development, to foster sustainability. Agenda 21 specifically promoted sustainable development practices rooted in local communities, as a means to deliver long-term social and environmental transformation (Warburton 2013). The literature introduces what can be considered a third approach, which proposes a balance between community-led and externally driven actions (Fraser et al. 2006; Reed et al. 2006).

The body of research which examines the bottom-up framework comes from participatory studies, research on community-based approaches and community driven development, often located in fields such as sociology, anthropology and human geography. CBOs provide significant vehicles to achieving a bottom-up approach to development (Cairns et al. 2006, 8). These organizations work at improving the quality of life of communities by implementing solutions that "respond to the local situation" (Seyfang and Smith 2007, 585). Baker (2014) notes that the role of facilitator is key in fostering sustainable community development. Carby (2015) and Dodman & Dodman (2016) highlight the importance of the inclusion of local knowledge, which is socially and culturally produced, in the process of development planning and designing appropriate solutions.

Community-driven development relies on the active participation of community members in the project design and implementation process (Mansuri and Rao 2004), while the organizations that coordinate these efforts act as the mobilizing unit which incorporates local level participation in development projects. Operationalizing the bottom-up approach has been done through enacting policies and legislations with community-based development at their core and promoting community-based initiatives, which enable local people to participate in the decisions and activities which affect their living conditions (O'Hare 2003; Middlemiss 2009).

These community-driven projects allow for enhanced sustainability, even after the completion of the project: they empower vulnerable groups by giving them a voice and greater control over development assistance; strengthen governance by complementing public sector activities; and allow for improved efficiency and effectiveness (Mansuri and Rao 2004).

Having local community members actively involved in development projects may alleviate some of the problems faced when using an expert-led approach; for instance, it has a positive impact on the information divide that can exist between hinders, social planners and project beneficiaries (Mansuri and Rao 2004). Also, greater inclusion allows for expanded benefits to community members by way of resources, capacity building and training. Another essential gain of this approach, according to Mansuri and Rao (2004, 2), is its ability to strengthen "civic capacities of communities by nurturing [organisations] which represent them, and by enabling them to acquire skills and [organisational] abilities that strengthen their capacity for collective action."

Community-based approaches therefore have the potential to be effective under the right conditions and taking into consideration the relevant characteristics of the community in question.

Measuring Sustainable Development

Sustainability indicators can be either qualitative or quantitative, and employ a top-down or bottom-up ideological framework and may, in some cases, combine both. There is debate as to how best to develop indicators and collect data (Reed et al. 2006). Dodman (2004) notes that there tend to be prescribed techniques and measures for assessing community indicators, while participatory approaches and lived experiences should be taken into consideration. In cases where community-based indicators are developed and data is collected, an additional issue emerges when deciding how to use this data to inform policy and influence national development (Fraser et al. 2006).

The body of research in this area debates the pragmatism of using either the community-based, bottom-up or the expert led, top-down paradigm to identify and measure indicators, as well as the possibility of using an integrative approach to measuring sustainable development. Existing indicators supported by national-level data reflects the top-down internationally applied definition of sustainability (Reed et al. 2006). This kind of approach has been criticized and considered flawed, as it may not take into account key local and community level sustainable development issues. It is further pointed out that local communities "need to participate in all stages of project planning and implementation, including the selection, collection and monitoring of indicators" (Reed et al. 2006, 407). The United Nations recognizes that greater involvement is needed from local communities in order to achieve the SDGs, hence their establishment of the Small Data for SDGs initiative (United Nations University 2017). Making such affordances for local communities, however, requires additional support for these forms of data contribution as global sustainable development monitoring processes, which promote international comparability as was used in the monitoring of the MDGs and now, in an even more advanced way, in measuring the progress towards the SDGs (Mothe, Espey and Traub 2015). Kapto (2017) notes the role that community data plays in the data ecosystem of the SDGs. This builds on the United Nations (2014) call for building capacity in the use of small data. This helps to bridge the data divide in developing countries, and recognizes data for development initiatives. The data revolution also emphasizes the role of citizen-generated data (Datashift 2017) and notes that it can facilitate the monitoring and progress towards the SDGs. It is highlighted that this type of data "is often produced in real or near-time, is grounded in local context and can amplify citizen voices and perspectives on SDG progress, including of those typically marginalised and hard to reach" (Datashift 2017, 3). Thinyane (2017, 224) outlines five notions or perspectives in which small data can be generated or utilized: "1) Small data as small data sets; 2) Small data as actionable by-product of big data analytics; 3) Small data where n = me; 4) Small data from ethnographic human-centric observations; 5) Small data as an approach to data analysis." These represent key areas in which community data may be identified, and play a role in helping a community to assess and work towards achieving the SDGs.

A global mapping process led by the UN, which examines the policies, sector documents and strategic plans of developing countries as a means of measuring their alignment with the SDGs, reinforces the strength and widespread acceptance of the top-down paradigm. As one of the countries assessed in the early stages of this mapping exercise, Jamaica recorded high alignment with 77% of the Vision 2030 National Development Plan aligned and 91% of all its national policy documents aligned with the SDG targets. This is evidence of the country's extensive application of the top-down paradigm as the approach being used towards sustainable development. This high rate of alignment shows that the country's policy documents reflect the measures, targets, indicators and goals of the global SDGs. The Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) and the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) are but two government agencies which have employed participatory and inclusive methods in development planning (Mansuri and Rao 2004). Consideration is needed in relation to the extent to which sufficient weight is given to local community involvement, and how best to collect, use and integrate data generated from this level in national development planning. Community-based citizen data can support the measurement of the SDGs through: "1) filling data gaps and capacity, 2) fulfilling commitments to multi-stakeholder partnerships, 3) driving innovation, 4) broad ownership and accuracy of data, 5) strengthening accountability, and 6) shadow monitoring" (Datashift 2017, 10).

Research Methods

Aim & Objectives

The aim of this study is to explore awareness and perceptions of the SDGs, and the process of measuring them in the context of a rural farming community. This project seeks to share insights which may be useful to communities in localizing and assessing the SDGs.

The research seeks to explore approaches that are used within a rural farming community in Jeffrey Town, Jamaica, to assess and measure the Sustainable Development Goals, through the following sub-questions:

* What is the level of awareness of the SDGs among community members?

* What are community members' perceptions of the SDGs?

* To what extent do the development projects of the community align with the SDGs?

* How does the Jeffrey Town community measure and assess their development progress?


The motivation for this study was based on the calls for research in this area, and the potential contribution of the findings. These include: calls and plans for localization of SDGs (PIOJ 2017); the need for more data to support measurement of the SDGs (PIOJ 2017; UNDP 2017); calls for community-based 'small data' (United Nations University 2017), and the important role of community participation in development (UN 2017).

Traditionally, human development monitoring has been skewed towards the formation of government strategy developmental plans (United Nations University 2017). Very little focus is recorded to have been directed at enabling and supporting local community level action. This approach implicitly opposes the core principle of the UN SDGs, leaving no one behind. This research is not only timely, but relevant, as it aims to provide information on the possible avenues through which the SDGs can be localized through the involvement of local and community-based actors.

A sustainable community is one in which members participate in the planning process of creating a vision for their community; make informed choices which acknowledge the links between economy, society and environment; and consider carrying capacity (ENACT 2001). The Jeffrey Town community has been pinpointed as an aspiring sustainable community in Jamaica, as they are involved in projects relating to (i) disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation; (ii) eco-agriculture; (iii) income generation and value-added secondary processing; (iv) youth engagement and radio broadcasting; and (v) community infrastructure (UNDP 2015). This community has improved its physical infrastructure, built technical capacity by training residents, and helped them to develop competency in a variety of areas. The success of this model for sustainable development which Jeffrey Town has implemented, has been highlighted and provided an opportunity to facilitate further research on community perceptions and ways of assessing the SDGs.

Research Context

The Jeffrey Town community is located in the north-eastern area of Jamaica in the parish of St. Mary, and is considered high-risk in relation to natural disasters (UNDP 2015). According to the 2011 Census, the community has a population of 2,982 persons, with an even distribution of males and females. Studies measuring the community's employment patterns report that almost half of the population (42%) is engaged in agriculture, with another 33% unemployed, while youth unemployment featured at a higher rate of 40% (UNDP 2015).

While the predominant economic activity over the years has been agriculture, this sector has been in decline in more recent years. In response to challenges, including export possibilities and a decline in the local market, the JTFA was formed with a focus on building sustainable farming practices, and evolved within this context to become a driver of community development.

The JTFA was established in 1991, and registered in 2003, to address the growing concerns of Jeffrey Town farmers; concerns that included, but were not limited to, markets for their products, land degradation, natural disasters and an inconsistent water supply (UNDP 2015). The JTFA began operating with a few members, and grew to be both a technical self-help group and a social club (UNDP 2015).

One of the first initiatives of the JTFA was the decision to market their produce collectively and lobby for government assistance intended to benefit the local farmers (UNDP 2015). These efforts, as reported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), have improved the livelihood of persons within the community, particularly the programmes of alternative energy, sustainable agricultural techniques and disaster risk management.

The JTFA has been a model in the area of the use of information and communication technologies to support development, through the provision of internet access, online learning and a radio station (Gordon 2014). These initiatives formed part of the community's path to resilience (Gordon 2012).

Research Design

A qualitative research methodology was chosen following considerations such as availability of recent and relevant research, and guided the decision to employ focus groups, in-depth interviews and stakeholder meetings. This data collection process was facilitated by the community and included two semi-structured in-depth interviews, three focus groups and two stakeholder meetings.

Primary Data Sources

In-depth interviews were employed to explore the historical trajectory of the socio-cultural and economic developments of Jeffrey Town from the inception of the Jeffrey Town Farmers' Association (JTFA) to present. The interviews were determined to be the best option for gaining deeper insight into how the individuals articulated their personal wellbeing, opinions, and feelings in relation to the community life experiences of Jeffrey Town. The open-ended structure of the questions allowed flexibility in the ordering of questions to acquire more information as the conversation evolved.

In selecting the participants for the interviews, community leaders and members assisted in selecting persons who were actively involved in the projects and initiatives undertaken by the Jeffrey Town community.

Focus groups were used to explore perceptions of previous and existing development projects undertaken by the Jeffrey Town community. This method capitalizes on communication between research participants, in a form of group interview, in order to generate data (Kitzinger 1995, 299). In preparing for the focus group discussions, a list of possible questions was compiled, under varying sub-topics, which would act as a guide to stimulate discussion amongst participants.

Three separate focus group sessions were conducted to understand the social meaning attached to community development, and the characteristics of the changing social landscape. The focus groups comprised of a Senior Citizens group, a Youth group and a Female JET employees group. The participants for the focus groups were contacted by community liaisons who reached out to community members to advise them of the dates, times and location of the focus groups, as well as the desired demographic of participants.

The research team requested that participants over the age of 65 be a part of the first focus group, to represent the senior citizen population. The Youth focus group was initially intended to only include persons between the ages and 18 and 25. However, when three persons offered to participate in the research whose ages fell outside of the specified range, they were welcomed into the group, effectively widening the age range. The final focus group had four participants with an age range of at least 20 years. All the participants in this focus group were women, as researchers sought to gain insights into the gender dynamics within the community.

The division of the different demographic groups was instrumental in collecting information on the various levels of awareness and perceptions of sustainable development and livelihood in the Jeffrey Town community. Additionally, this method was used to capture views on prioritization of SDGs at the individual, family and community levels. The strength of this method is to situate knowledge within the social setting and interaction of the participants. During these focus group sessions, sheets with the 17 SDGs listed were distributed to participants, who were then asked to choose the six they believed should be of priority to the community.

Involving stakeholders in social research has shown its benefits in terms of having better-informed and more effective policies, projects, programmes and services. The research team met and consulted with representatives from UNDP and the PIOJ, and the presentations and discussions supported the understanding of the SDGs and the planned process for implementation and localization.

Participant Demographics

Of the 26 participants, approximately 57 percent were female and 42 percent were male. Of the female participants present in the youth focus group, 60 percent had plans to continue their education. At least a third of the males communicated that they earned an income from farming. All of the participants in the women's group had a means of earning income. All participants had lived within the community for at least three years, although a number of participants from the senior citizen group had migrated at some point before returning to the community.

Data Analysis Strategy

For this study, an inductive approach was adopted, utilizing an explanatory framework which was explicitly guided by the research questions. Both framework and context analysis were employed in order to deepen the understanding behind the role of CBAs, in the context of a rural farming community, to assessing and measuring the SDG framework. The data analysis began with the identification of categories that were in line with the research questions, which as outlined by Wolcott (1994), must include a description, analysis and interpretation. As such, the analysis of data gathered focused on the experiences, opinions, knowledge and feelings communicated to the research team by participants during the research process.

Once the data was collected, the recordings of the focus groups and the second in-depth interview were transcribed manually. Thorough notes were taken during the first in-depth interview as well as at both stakeholder meetings, as researchers were unable to record in those instances. Members of the research team conducted the interviews in smaller groups, and the moderators of each of those groups listened to the recordings of their respective interviews, and transcribed accordingly. This information was subsequently compiled using Microsoft Word and shared with the rest of the research team for further analysis.

An inductive approach was used to summarize the transcripts and to identify and link recurring themes and ideas communicated by participants in order to develop a relevant framework. After transcribing the audio recording, researchers coded and categorized the data to facilitate the emergence of patterns and the establishment of themes. At this stage, important codes were grouped and four major categories were identified in relation to the data gathered as well as the study's research questions. The categories identified are discussed below.

Information provided by the PIOJ informed researchers of country-level efforts, national priorities and approaches to measuring achievement of the SDGs. Researchers were also able to use the information provided by the UNDP to gauge community progress towards achieving the SDGs. The presentation and pamphlet provided by the JTFA assisted the research team in identifying efforts towards particular SDG goals which the community could be recognized as working towards. Data from the 2011 Jamaica Census was used to obtain disaggregated data pertaining to the Jeffrey Town population in various demographic, social and economic areas. These included areas such as housing type, gender and age distribution, education levels and employment.

Analysis and Discussion

Awareness and Perceptions

Some participants involved in the research indicated prior knowledge of the SDGs, and when introduced to the terminology of the SDGs, most participants could point to relevant goals they saw as ongoing or important for their community. From our results, participants who communicated having prior knowledge and awareness of the SDGs were mature residents of the community who were heavily involved in the developmental aspect of the community and acted as liaisons between the community and stakeholders and donors, in order to carry out the community's development initiatives

Notions of involvement and participation become a key element in localizing the SDGs, especially at the community level. Community members are best able to identify and position themselves in relation to their understanding of the community's challenges, assets and skills upon which they can draw, in determining the best approach for charting their development. The Jeffrey Town community has been actively pursuing its development agenda, developing and funding projects through partnerships with local and international agencies. They have also been able to identify target areas for development within their community. By identifying these priority areas, community members are better able to effect development progress. The SDGs most frequently chosen by the participants in the focus group activities were SDGs 1 (No Poverty), 3 (Good Health and Wellbeing) and 4 (Quality Education). In addition, the JTFA leadership identified SDG 2 (Zero Hunger) as a priority area.

Gender Equality (SDG 5) was also in the top-three choices for two of the focus groups and was also a topic that came to the fore in the youth and women's groups, community visits and one of the in-depth interviews.

The priority SDGs chosen seem to be reflective of the age-group dynamics as well as the way in which each focus group perceived the notion of development. Interestingly, their overall understanding of what development is, and what it means to be developed, were closely associated with the SDGs and their targets. The notion of development was, however, expressed differently by the varying age-ranges of participants.

Senior Citizen Participants: Awareness and Perceptions

The majority of senior citizen participants referred to development success with reference to the conditions present in Jeffrey Town during their youth. Although not explicitly stated in terms of the SDGs, the seniors alluded to development in the present time period as no poverty, zero hunger, clean water and sanitation, decent work and economic growth, sustainable cities and communities, and responsible consumption and production, which are SDGs 1, 2, 6, 8, 11 and 12, respectively.

The group also communicated their awareness of the attempts and work done by the JTFA, which they praised as signs of revitalization and redevelopment in the community. They made specific mention of the attempt at climate-smart farming, as well as the construction of green houses, which they believed will improve the agricultural state of the community, taking into account the effects of climate change. The majority of the senior citizens who participated in the focus group discussion stated that they were either current or past members of JTFA and were therefore in some way responsible for, and active in, the development status of their community.

Youth Participants: Awareness and Perceptions

The Jeffrey Town youth acknowledged the progress made by community development initiatives, more so as it relates to the initiatives they participated in since they were able to see the worth and value added to their community. In this light, we can acknowledge the significance of participatory philosophy and its grounding in community-based approaches to development.

The youth's notion of development seemed to be viewed through a 'modern-day infrastructural' lens where they saw improvements such as having pipe-borne water as compared to using buckets to fetch water as an improvement, which links to SDG 6--Clean Water and Sanitation. As such, development from the youth perspective was aligned with the fast-paced, technology-driven world, where improvements in infrastructure and innovation are of great significance. These ideals see the precedence of SDG 9--Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure as key to development for the youths within the community.

The youth group expressed hope for more opportunities to be made available to them both within and outside the community, to advance and improve their individual well-being by securing employment. This perception of development falls under the purview of SDG 8--Decent Work and Economic Growth. The youth participants perceived the current economic climate and lack of income sources within the community as disproportionately affecting their generation.

Additionally, some female participants expressed the need for increased availability of certain medical services as well as the access to adequate health care, building on the services of the community's health centre. They spoke specifically to maternal health care, which is significant to them as young women living in a rural community, which can be linked to the targets under SDG 3--Good Health and Well-being.

Women's Group Participants: Awareness and Perceptions

The women's group saw development as being currently underway, and felt that it could be at a faster pace. They expressed a feeling of satisfaction as they were able to become active participants in the development initiatives within their community, and expressed optimism about their current and future roles within the community, which happens to fall under the purview of SDG 5--Gender Equality. SDG 5 not only recognizes the need for women's full and effective participation but places emphasis on reforms which would allow women equal right to access and control over land, which has been effectively operationalized in the Jeffrey Town community, specifically through the JTFA's grant of land to the women's group. However, they did note some challenges that they and their families faced.

Community Priority SDGs

SDG 1: No Poverty

SDG 1 was discussed in depth by all three focus groups, but was perceived differently by each group. The senior citizens related poverty to the decrease in agricultural production within the community which has now resulted in persons having to purchase their goods. "We cudda live offa di land, now we haffi go to di shop," was a sentiment shared by one of the senior members to illustrate the changes due to the decrease in agricultural production in the community.

The youth participants, on the other hand, viewed poverty in relation to the limited job opportunities within their community. Most expressed a desire for more employment opportunities within the community. "Dere's no work," was the agreed upon claim made during the focus group.

The women's group interpretation of poverty was linked to disposable income, and their ability to provide for their families. However, this group appeared optimistic as they believe working together as a community will enhance the well-being of each individual. This idea was captured and communicated by one participant who stated: "Being together and learning from each other, that is a common goal. To work together and build our community at large."

SDG 3: Good Health and Well-Being

The second key area of concern fell under the purview of Good Health and Well-being, which was emphasized by the female youth participants. These young women expressed their desire for increased services offered by the health clinic especially as it related to maternal health care (pre- and post-natal care), which necessitated them travelling long distances to access these services. In addition, they communicated that appointments were required for visits to the clinic and felt that more development was needed in the area of community health.

The seniors' and women's groups made mention of the medical care offered within the community. The presence of a health clinic in the community was viewed as a sign of development by the senior citizens and a community leader who was interviewed. There were some contrasts between the senior citizens' and the youth's perception of the community health services, which may be attributed to the length of time the senior citizens spent in Jeffrey Town without access to a community clinic.

SDG 4: Quality Education

The development needs and challenges in relation to Quality Education were also discussed by the Jeffrey Town community members. Several of the youths expressed satisfaction with their experiences attending the local primary schools. An issue raised by the youth and women's cohorts related to the limited funding for extracurricular activities.

Leaders in the community spoke to researchers of the development initiatives involving schools. They discussed at length the introduction and success of school feeding programmes which allowed the children to have a nutritious meal at the start of the day made from community-produced agricultural products. It was also mentioned that the community had embarked upon school beautification projects, thus enhancing the physical environment by painting schools and mending the infrastructure where necessary.

SDG 5: Gender Equality

SDG 5--Gender Equality also stood out as a priority. It was a top choice selected by two out of the three focus groups and was also a topic which arose in the youth and women's groups discussions, during the community visits and in one of the in-depth interviews. The Jeffrey Town Women's Group spoke to their involvement in development initiatives and projects, and their pride in their cumulative work. Through the workings of the JTFA the women were ensured effective participation and equal opportunities for both leadership and community involvement, as well as access ownership and control over resources. This support has contributed to the promotion of gender equality by, and the empowerment of, women in the Jeffrey Town community.

Alignment of Development Projects with SDGs

When examining the development projects within the community, it was determined that the projects and actions of the JTFA and wider community were in keeping with SDGs 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 12, 13, 15 and 17 and aligned with 28 of the SDG targets.

SDG 1: No Poverty

As it relates to target 1.4, the JTFA leaders interviewed mentioned their role in previous and current land disputes, in procuring land for community farming and activities, as well as the donation of land to the Jeffrey Town Women's Group (JTWG) for farming initiatives.

The Climate Smart Farming Initiative within the community aligns with target 1.5 by building the resilience of community members and reducing their vulnerability to extreme climate-related events by working to protect against food vulnerability. This project also aligns to SDG 2 by promoting food security.

SDG 2: Zero Hunger

The School Feeding Programme established and facilitated by the JTFA aligns with targets 2.1 and 2.2. The programme ensures access for school children to nutitious and safe meals which works towards ending the occurrence of malnutrition. The JFTA also uses locally grown products to create healthy and sustainable food supplies to schools.

Alignment with target 2.4, regarding the implementation of resilient agricultural practices, is exhibited by the Greenhouse Farming Project and Climate Smart Farming Initiative of the JTFA. The latter initiative provides a model and assistance for other farmers in the community and involves the innovative use of land and organic crops to combat the effects of drought and heavy rains on local agricultural production. The Agro-Processing Facility also allows the community leaders to ensure sustainable food production which also increases productivity as it contains machinery used to dry and package local produce.

SDG 4: Quality Education

Numerous members of the Jeffrey Town community have benefited from training programmes organized and facilitated by the JTFA, aligning them with target 4.4. One youth member spoke of media training which led to a peer being hired by a well-known radio station. The leaders of the community also spoke of partnership with HEART Trust-NTA, a national training agency, and other agencies to bring skills training programmes to the community. However, these have decreased in frequency over the years due to a lack of interest shown.

SDG 5: Gender Equality

The activities and intent of the JTWG is aligned with both SDG Target 5.5 and Target 5A. The role of a member of the JTWG as a leader in the JTFA development project illustrates the ability for women's participation and equal opportunities for leadership, while the ownership and control of land by the JTWG used for agricultural and agro-processing activities aligns with 5A.

SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation

The Water Catchment and Filtration Systems project by the JTFA is currently working to achieve access to safe and affordable drinking water for all community members aligning it with Target 6.1. Furthermore, the agreed upon controls on access to water initiated by the JTFA encourage water-use efficiency by all community members.

SDG 7: Affordable and Clean Energy

The use of solar panels for the provision of power to street lights and the JTFA headquarters--which house the community's radio station, the Agro-Processing Facility, a Wi-Fi device for community access and a computer lab which is temporarily in use as development headquarters--illustrates a move towards more reliable and sustainable energy services. This current use of solar energy and the intent to expand upon this usage aligns the community with Targets 7.1 and 7B.

SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth

The Agro-Processing Facility and Greenhouse Farming projects have allowed the community to achieve greater economic productivity. Members of

the JTWG spoke to the employment opportunities that would be provided by the greenhouses and of the opportunities for their members and the production of their own value-added products using the Agro-Processing Facility.

SDG 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure

The perceived alignment with 9.2 is due to the use of sustainable energy to power the Agro-Processing Facility which has the potential to significantly increase employment opportunities and community income in both the medium and long term. This use of solar panels by the community also aligns with target 9.4 as they have, and intend to expand upon, the use of clean and environmentally friendly industrial processes. The JET FM Radio, also located in the same building, aligns with 9C, by increasing community access to information and communications technology. The provision of Wi-Fi for the area surrounding the building is in line with the intent of providing affordable access to the Internet.

SDG 10: Reduced Inequalities

As observed by the researchers, the work of the JTFA and JTWG both promote the economic and political inclusion of all, with no restrictions placed on members of the community due to their status, age, or sex, perceived by researchers. The leaders interviewed and participants in focus groups, spoke to an inclusive community, and aligned them with Target 10.2. Furthermore, the JTFA's work and partnership with the CDB, EU and CDA among others encourages development assistance and financial flows to the community, in alignment with Target 10B.

SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production

Target 12.2 is met through the aforementioned Climate Smart Farming initiative, Greenhouse Farming and the Agro-Processing Facility. The Agro-Processing facility also decreases food wastage by drying excess agricultural products, allowing progress towards Target 12.3. The Climate Smart and Greenhouse Farming initiatives further the community's progress as it relates to the environmentally sound management of chemicals. These initiatives entail the use of non-harmful and environmentally sound fertilizers and additives aligning them with Target 12.4. In addition, the use of JET FM Radio to share information on sustainable lifestyles in harmony with nature, by a leader of the JTFA, is in alignment with Target 12.8 as well as Target 13.3.

SDG 13: Climate Action

The community's alignment with 13B, is encompassed in myriad projects, including, but not limited to, the Climate Smart and Greenhouse Farming initiatives, the Water Catchment and Filtration Systems, the JTWG and the construction of gabion baskets which members of the community learnt to build and erect themselves.

SDG 15: Life on Land

The combined efforts and results of the Climate Smart and Greenhouse Farming initiatives and the construction of gabion baskets have worked to restore degraded land and integrate ecosystem and biodiversity values into development processes, aligning these projects to Target 15.3 and 15.9.

SDG 17: Partnership for the Goals

Although not found to align with any of the specific targets outlined under Goal 17, due to the semantics of the targets, the JTFA's numerous partnerships with international, regional and local development agencies certainly illustrate its alignment with Goal 17.

Measurement and Assessment of Development

Over the years, the Jeffrey Town community has partnered with a number of development organizations and academic institutions to undertake research for community development. These initiatives have included a household survey in 1997 to collect baseline data in relation to residential electricity access, collaboration with the Social Development Commission in 2009 on a spatial community profile, and work with Johns Hopkins University students in 2012 on areas related to breadfruit, horticulture and farming machinery. In 2016, the JTFA partnered with the Caribbean Development Bank to do a community survey on demographic characteristics, economic high and low periods, and distance of residents from the field. They have also conducted geological assessments to guide infrastructural development. The JTFA has also played a critical role in data collection and attempting to assess and measure areas of development within the community, initiatives that were done independently as well as with different stakeholders.

The discussions held with community members, in addition to the information gathered during our research, provided an understanding of the means by which community development has been measured and assessed within the Jeffrey Town community. Despite methods of measuring and assessing progress not being explicitly stated, these processes involved using both quantitative and qualitative approaches. Quantitative measures identified included the number of students in the schools' breakfast programme, the quantity of agricultural goods being produced for consumption or for sale, the amount of value-added products sent out into the market, as well as the number of persons employed both internally and externally. These have been taken into consideration as a means by which development can be assessed and measured within the Jeffrey Town community.

The qualitative approaches seem to be primarily based on observations of, and participation in, development initiatives, with the measurement and assessment of development communicated in subjective terms by community members. As previously mentioned, each category of participants held a different view of development and what development should look like within their community. For instance, a youth participant saw development as no longer having to walk long distances to collect water; this can be adopted as a qualitative method of measuring and assessing development. Another qualitative measure would be the inclusion of women in the development process, as well as the enhancement in medical care as a health centre was introduced into the community. Previously, this was only accessible in the adjoining community which involved a tedious waiting period, coupled with the travel distance to get to that location.

Conclusion and Recommendations

It is generally agreed upon by development agencies and the researchers of CBAs that participatory approaches can be/are effective methods for achieving development goals, and by extension the SDGs. The study of Jeffrey Town illustrates the important role that communities can play in localizing the SDGs, specifically in the Jamaican context. Our research also highlighted gaps in the infrastructural and institutional support for CBAs, as well as areas in which the Jeffrey Town community could continue to support the assessment and measurement of the SDGs in order to enhance their current model of development.

Recommendations for the Community Level

Based on the findings of this research as it relates to higher investment of individuals in the role of development when engaged in the actual process, it is being recommended that there be further encouragement and incentives for increased community participation in development initiatives.

As building human capability and capacity has proven to be effective in operationalizing the development process, we recommend that there be a stronger push towards the transfer of knowledge from the senior members of the community to the younger generations, allowing for more widespread participation. This can be done through training sessions and community activities which will encourage the youth to learn the skills required for the continued development of the Jeffrey Town community, while at the same time enhancing their individual capabilities and capacity.

Recommendations for the Local level

The research team asserts that it would prove beneficial if officials further facilitated cooperation amongst communities, to allow for the sharing of ideas and skills for community-based initiatives. For example, cross-community or parish events could be hosted, with groups invited to showcase, as well as discuss, their actions and strategies gauged toward the sustainable path of development. Community site visits could also be encouraged, where members from varying communities come to view and gain insights into how certain development initiatives are being undertaken.

Recommendations for the National level

Given the potential of community members to guide and achieve development through participatory approaches, we recommend that there be an increased focus on training and support for community members in areas such as proposal writing, monitoring and evaluation as well as project management. This will facilitate the empowerment and autonomy of communities within the realm of development, as human capabilities will be increased, and the extent to which communities depend on the state decreased.

The current framework in place for monitoring development achievements does not have a means of directly monitoring or evaluating development projects occurring at the community level. As community level projects can produce useful models and be replicated throughout the country to further realize developed status, we recommend that more opportunities be provided for the strengthening of community-based M&E. Training community members in the M&E field will allow for job creation, while at the same time will add value to the national level M&E system, as there would be personnel on the ground who are adequately trained to provide updates and reports regarding development initiatives being undertaken at the community level.

Further research would be useful, for example through an action research approach, to explore monitoring and evaluation approaches by communities within the SDG framework.

It is hoped that further research will build on the findings from this study, in providing further analysis of ways local actors and CBOs play a role in leading Jamaica to achieve the SDGs by 2030.


The SALISES 2016/2017 MSc Development Studies cohort and research advisor would like to specially thank the Jeffrey Town community, Wordsworth Gordon and Ivy Gordon and members of the Jeffrey Town Farmers' Association and Jeffrey Town Women's Group for their participation and assistance with this study. The cohort also thanks the Planning Institute of Jamaica and the United Nations Development Programme, as well as the SALISES team for their support.


Baker, Peta-Anne. 2014. Editorial: a view from the Caribbean, The British Journal of Social Work, Volume 44, Issue 6, 1 September 2014:1361-1365

Brundtland Commission. 1987. Our Common Future. Oxford University Press.

Cairns, Ben, Margaret Harris and Romayne Hutchison. 2006. Servants of the Community or Agents of Government? The Role of Community-based Organisations and Their Contribution to Public Services Delivery and Civil Renewal. London: Institute for Voluntary Action Research. Retrieved from

Carby, Barbara. 2015. "Beyond the community: integrating local and scientific knowledge in the formal development approval process in Jamaica." Environmental Hazards 14, no. 3: 252-269.

Datashift. 2017. Using Citizen-Generated Data to Monitor the SDGs--A Tool for the GPSDD Data Revolution Roadmaps Toolkit. Retrieved from

Dodman, David. 2004. "Community Perspectives on Urban Environmental Problems in Kingston, Jamaica", Social and Economic Studies, 53 (3): 31-59.

Dodman, David, and Jane Dodman. 2016. '"Nuff Respec'? Widening and Deepening Participation in Academic and Policy Research in Jamaica." In Environmental Planning in the Caribbean: 105-122. London: Routledge.

Environmental Action (ENACT) Programme. 2001. A Framework for Local Sustainable Development Planning in Jamaica

Fraser, Evan, Andrew Dougill, Warren Mabee, Mark Reed, and Patrick McAlpine. 2006. "Bottom up and top down: Analysis of participatory processes for sustainability indicator identification as a pathway to community empowerment and sustainable environmental management." Journal of Environmental Management 78 (2): 114-127.

Global Task Force of Local and Regional Governments for Post-2015 Development Agenda Towards Habitat III, United Nations Development Program and United Nations Habitat (GTF et al. 2015). Key Messages and Process on Localizing the Post-2015 agenda.

Global Task Force of Local and Regional Governments for Post-2015 Development Agenda Towards Habitat III, United Nations Development Program and United Nations Habitat (GTF et al., 2016). 2016. Roadmap for Localizing the SDGs: Implementation and Monitoring at Subnational Level,

Gordon, Ivy. 2014. The Jeffrey Town Model for Community Development, Journal of Learning for Development, 1, 2.

Gordon, Wordsworth. 2012. Jeffrey Town Farmers' Association: Pathway to Resilience, Presentation at the SALISES Sustainable Rural Agriculture and Development Cluster Workshop, May 11, 2012.

Kapto, Serge. 2017. Integrated Data Ecosystems to Support SDG Implementation and Monitoring, Presentation at the Caribbean Action 2030 Regional Conference on the Sustainable Development Goals, June 28-30, Kingston, Jamaica.

Livingston, P. 2016. Jamaica's Implementation Strategy for the Sustainable Development Goals. PowerPoint Presentation,

Mansuri, Ghazala, and Vijayendre Rao. 2004. Community-based (and driven) development: A critical review. The World Bank Research Observer 19, no. 1: 1-39.

Mansuri, Ghazala and Vijayendre Rao. 2013. "Localizing Development: Does Participation Work?" A World Bank Policy Research Report.

Middlemiss, L. K. 2009. The role of community-based organisations in stimulating sustainability practices among participants (Doctoral dissertation, The University of Leeds).

Mothe, Eve, Jessica Espey, and Guido Traub. 2015. Measuring Progress on the SDGs: Multi-level reporting. Global Sustainable Development Report Brief.

OECD 2017. Development Co-operation Report 2017: Data for Development, Publishing, Paris: OECD Publishing.

Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ). 2017. A Road Map for SDG Implementation in Jamaica. Retrieved from

Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ). 2009. Vision 2030 Jamaica: National Development Plan Retrieved from

Reed, Mark, Evan Fraser and Andrew Dougill. 2006. An adaptive learning process for developing and applying sustainability indicators with local communities. Ecological Economics, 59(4): 406-418.

Seyfang, G. and A. Smith. 2007. "Grassroots Innovations for Sustainable Development: Towards a New Research and Policy Agenda." Environmental Politics 16(4): 584-603.

Thinyane, Mamello. 2017. "Investigating an Architectural Framework for Small Data Platforms." In Data for societal challenges -17th European Conference on Digital Government (ECDG 2017): 220-227.

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). 2015. "Jeffrey Town Farmers Association, Jamaica." Equator Initiative Case Studies.

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). 2017. UNDP and Sustainable Development Goals. Presentation by Richard Kelly and Upal Ranaweera.

UN Women 2016. Accelerating the Progress towards the Localization of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), United Nations.

United Nations 2014a. World that Counts: Mobilising the Data Revolution for Sustainable Development, a Report by the Secretary General's Independent Expert Advisory Group on the Data Revolution.

United Nations. 2014b. World Survey on the Role of Women in Development, Gender equality and Sustainable Development.

United Nations. 2007. The United Nations Development Agenda: Development for all

United Nations University. 2017. Small Data for sustainable goals: community level action and indicators monitoring. Computing and Society. United Nations University. Accessed April 27, 2017.

United Nations Website. Transforming Our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Retrieved from

Wolcott, Harry. 1994. Transforming Qualitative Data. SAGE Publishers.

Warburton, D. 2013. Community and sustainable development: participation in the future. London: Routledge.
Table 1

Focus Groups            No. of Participants

Senior Citizens (65+)   11
Female JET Employees     4
Youth                   11
COPYRIGHT 2018 University of the West Indies, Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of Social and Economic Studies
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2018 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:Sustainable Development Goals
Author:Khan, Risa; Thwaites, Nicole; Williams, Hadeikaye; McIennon, Mekeina; O'Connor, Diedre; Roberts, Ann
Publication:Social and Economic Studies
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:50CAR
Date:Dec 1, 2018
Previous Article:Managing Water Resources for Sustainable Development in the Caribbean: Dynamic Policy Options/Gestion des Ressources en eau Pour un Developpement...
Next Article:An Inclusive, Equitable and Prosperous Caribbean: The Case of Persons with Disabilities/Des Caraibes Inclusives, Equitables et Prosperes: Le Cas des...

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2020 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters