The year was 1996, and the Government of Jamaica was moved to establish a fund for social investment in bauxite communities. By then, the island’s bauxite industry had developed significantly from the discovery of premium ore in 1938 and the subsequent start of commercial scale processing for export in 1952.
All development comes with trade-offs and social costs. In the case of Jamaica, bauxite reserves are located within the central parishes, in areas ranging from deep rural communities to densely populated townships such as Mandeville in Manchester.
Bauxite mining and alumina refining operations have traditionally taken place within or near these communities, which presents unique challenges for the communities, the government and the bauxite/alumina companies. As a result, residents are often affected by noise and dust, limited areas for farming and a plethora of other issues.
The relatively low levels of infrastructural and social development in these communities stood in stark contrast to the notably high revenue earnings from the mining industry. Issues such as unemployment and poor access to tools of production therefore prompted Members of Parliament to lobby for a programme of special funding to support development of these areas.
Out of this lobbying came the Bauxite Community Development Programme (BCDP), funded by the Capital Development Fund. The BCDP has been administered by the Jamaica Bauxite Institute since 1996, under the mantra “Life After Bauxite”.
The BCDP is currently in its Sixth Phase, with a significant number of positive outcomes in infrastructure, agriculture, education and local leadership capacity through 15 councils across the five bauxite mining parishes.
The BCDP can be summarized in: “The BCDP By Numbers”
The BCDP Advisory Board or Steering Committee as it was called in the early years performs several functions. These include:
- Providing guidance and advice on the policies, strategies, direction and general operation of the BCDP.
- Approving projects submitted for implementation under the BCDP and approving the disbursement of funds to these projects.
- Receiving and reviewing progress and other reports on the BCDP and providing appropriate advice and recommendations as deemed necessary.
Since inception of the programme in 1996 several persons have served as chairman of the Advisory Board. They include former Permanent Secretary Mr. Geodfrey Perkins who was the first and longest serving Chairman, Mr. Delano Barnett, Attorney-at-Law, the late Mr. Keith Smith and Mr. Hopeton McCatty. The current Chairman is businessman John Valentine.