Community steps up to development challenges in Ngelehun Badjia

Community steps up to development challenges in Ngelehun Badjia

Community members galvanised by the SABI programme in the remote chiefdom of Ngelehun Badjia, Bo District, have so far raised SLL 2m to put towards important development projects outlined in their community action plan.

The Chiefdom Development Committee (CDC), which coordinates the action plan has organised local fundraising, collecting SLL 5000 from each household every month to fund ‘home-grown solutions’ to development challenges.

The Ngelehun Badjia community

How SABI Inspired Inclusive Community Action

The Ngelehun Badjia community action plan, drawn up at ward level, with support from SABI partner-south (The Rehabilitation and Development Agency – RADA), outlines a list of key priority projects for the community topped by helping to build a new health centre in the area. Some people currently have to walk 10 miles over tough terrain to their nearest clinic, or simply have to make do with traditional medicine.

Repairing roads, refencing the local school, installing a ramp for people with disabilities, and cleaning the school and health centre compounds have also been part of the extensive plan, which includes: details of the challenge that exists, the actions needed, who is responsible, the resources required and where they will come from, and a timeline for completion.

While many of the more achievable tasks from the action plan have already been ticked off, the provision of the new health centre is clearly not as straight forward. Community leaders understand that they must engage with government authorities, and even the media, to make this happen.

Chiefdom Development Committee Meeting – Ngelehun Badjia

With the oversight of the Chiefdom Development Committee, the community has already rallied together to build the physical structure of a new health centre, but it now needs to secure nursing staff and drugs. A local councillor (Patrick Mustapha), who sits on the Chiefdom Development Committee, has been assigned to formally write to the district health authorities to raise the matter. It is hoped the councillor can act as a bridge to district level officials and processes.

Ngelehun Badjia’s highly active Chiefdom Development Committee meets monthly and is made up of the local section chief, paramount chief, chiefdom speaker, a local councillor, the mammy queen, religious leaders and other members representing women, young people and people with disabilities in the community.

When tasks from the plan are allocated, they do not fall to an individual, but to certain community groups, which make them easier to achieve.

Albert Lamin (Center), Deputy Chair of the Chiefdom Development Committee

Albert Lamin, Deputy Chair of the Chiefdom Development Committee, said: ‘We come together to make sense and solve these problems. The SABI action plan reminds us of the assignments that need to be done.

‘Before this time, decisions were all in the hands of one person. Now, as a result of SABI, all the stakeholders make the decisions together.

‘Of course, we are happy. We are doing a lot of good things with that money. We hired a Caterpillar man to fix the road. Without a good road there can be no good development.’

Fanta Daboh – Programme Manager SABI

Programme Manager Fanta Daboh added: ‘One of the things this Chiefdom Development Committee has got over other communities is that if they want to take action, they have access to finance.’

Group decision making with involvement from all parts of the community is a new thing for Ngelehun Badjia, where most people make a living as farmers of cocoa, rice, cassava, coffee, groundnuts and white palm.

Chiefdom Speaker – Chief Sheku Bollon (Right)

Chiefdom speaker Chief Sheku Bollon explained: ‘SABI gives us knowledge and sense to help improve our community. Community ownership is through the intervention of SABI.’

Connecting the Community and the Media

Local media – who in 2017 received training from SABI partner BBC Media Action – has also picked up the story, with Kiss 104 Radio and SLBC TV, Bo, both dispatching journalists to Ngelehun Badjia.

Solomon Joe (Right), News Director of Kiss 104 FM

‘We found they had two health centres but lacked staff and drugs,’ says Solomon Joe, News Director of Kiss 104. ‘We have brought this to the attention of the right stakeholders and duty bearers.

‘We spoke to women who are recipients of healthcare and noted the challenges of the road network, and the need to ferry patients including pregnant women on motorbikes and in hammocks.’

Both media outlets contacted the District Medical Officer for Bo, who suggested that this would have to be an issue picked up at national level.

SABI partner-south (The Rehabilitation and Development Agency – RADA), supported Ngelehun Badjia to develop high quality action plan.

Community leaders are now determined to continue working with SABI through the Rehabilitation and Development Agency – RADA and new national partner Focus 1000, to highlight the need for health centres in the area with the relevant government ministries and departments.