‘National conversations give citizens a voice’

SABI Conducts a National Service Summit in Freetown, Sierra Leone

As government and development partners work to improve service delivery in health, education and social protection in Sierra Leone, a key challenge that remains is the weak relationship between service providers and service users. Decisions and activities affecting the people have not always been inclusive or accountable and have not taken into consideration the voice of citizens.

There is an urgent need to create an inclusive platform where service providers and service users can agree on workable solutions to improve service delivery in Sierra Leone, together.

SABI Conducts a National Service Summit in Freetown, Sierra Leone

How SABI created more responsive platforms and amplified citizens voice

The SABI programme is building trust and strong relationships between service providers and service users by conducting district and national service summits around the country. This is an innovative approach to giving citizens a voice and stimulating a national conversation.

At the National Service Summit in December, three thematic market stalls were set up around health, education and social protection and staffed by SABI team members. We shared findings from the second round of our citizens’ perception survey (CPS), which gave people the opportunity to freely and anonymously share their experiences of services.

We promoted an engaging dialogue between citizens and state actors, and discussed lasting solutions to improve service delivery in all 16 districts. Action plans developed at community, ward and chiefdom level with national stakeholders were also showcased at the summits.

The summits were highly participatory, and attended by ministries, departments and agencies, local government, paramount chiefs, district chairmen, chief justices, members of parliament, civil society organisations, faith-based organisations, the media, people with disabilities and other groups.

At the main event in Freetown, participants encouraged citizens to work with their local leaders to improve service delivery.

Minister of State Francess Peagie Alghali.

‘The issues discussed here are at the heart of the government … and will inform whatever steps that the government is taking, in terms of strengthening service delivery particularly at the local level,’ said Minister of State Francess Peagie Alghali.

‘People have to be accountable for the work that they do, and as SABI is about strengthening accountability, it is also a priority of the government to ensure that state actors are accountable.’

Mohamed Bailor Jalloh, CEO of SABI national partner Focus 1000

Mohamed Bailor Jalloh, CEO of SABI national partner Focus 1000, added: ‘The purpose of the national summit is to engage national decision makers on the key issues and recommendations gathered during the district summits. The summits have been very inclusive and everyone’s voice has been considered.’

Dr Joe-Lahai Sormana, Director of Inter-Ministerial Coordination

Dr Joe-Lahai Sormana, Director of Inter-Ministerial Coordination, said that a strong relationship between service providers and service users would provide a deeper understanding and appreciation of needs of the service user.

‘As a government, we are in the business of providing essential services in health, education and social protection, that meets the fundamental needs of our people,’ he said.

‘The government of Sierra Leone … is committed to positively transform the lives of the people of Sierra Leone through a people-centred, and people-driven service delivery approach.’

How SABI created an environment of learning

Participants visited our market stalls to learn more about our work

 

Participants visited our market stalls to learn more about our work

The National Summit also had a learning aspect, with visual presentations and plenary discussions in Krio increasing the understanding of participants on SABI’s community engagement methods and the data we have gathered.

Hezina Johnson, from SABI partner Restless Development, explained the programme’s innovative use of smartphones to collect credible data, how infographics are used to present evidence back to communities and how Youth Accountability Volunteers have supported communities to develop action plans, to bring the change they want to see.

SABI team leader Amanda Bangura presented citizen’s perception data on health and facilitated an inclusive discussion on participant’s experiences of health services in Sierra Leone.