SABI is challenging patrimony and exclusion

SABI team leader Jane East has called on Sierra Leone’s new government to respond fairly to the needs of the people, and said the programme had an ‘unwavering commitment’ to gender equality and social inclusion.

Ms East, speaking at the official launch of SABI’s national Citizen Perception Survey (CPS), found common ground with Auditor General Lara Taylor-Pearce, who gave the keynote address at the event.

‘We have a shared belief in the importance of integrity in public service,’ Ms East said. ‘We are here at the outset of a new government. We know the Sierra Leonean people want to see a government which is competent, professional and non-partisan. SABI challenges patrimony.’

Following a year of research, involving 594 communities, 80 wards and 40 chiefdoms from all 14 districts of Sierra Leone, SABI launched its CPS at an event on May 24 at the British Council, Freetown, attended by government officials, community members and media from across the country.

The CPS is one of SABI’s key components, including data on interviews with heads of households, pregnant women, new mothers, school pupils, adolescents, Ebola survivors and people with disabilities. SABI hopes the survey results will prove to be a unique, ground-breaking and historic dataset used by decision makers and other key stakeholders as a tool to help improve service delivery across Sierra Leone.

'We believe this survey has statistical validity, It is a snapshot, but we believe it is also reflective of the experiences of the whole of the Sierra Leonean population.'
Jane East, SABI team leader

‘It was not an extractive exercise. We listened to community members, brought together their responses and relayed our findings back to them, so that they could work on their own community action plans.

‘We are sharing the data with everyone. It is available on the website for anyone to see, to examine, to make sense of, to challenge. We hope that government, civil society organisations, our fellow development agencies, and communities themselves will draw on this data.’

Ms East said SABI strongly believed that ‘all Sierra Leonean citizens have a right to services and a right to help influence the delivery of those services’.

‘SABI challenges exclusion. When volunteers were collecting responses in communities, they were determined to speak to women, young people, and persons with disabilities. We are proactively including people from the most marginalised groups in our planning, budgeting and activities.

‘We want to see active citizens who have self-belief and the capacity to bring about change, and as well, a new mindset about inclusion and more inclusive structures.’

Finally, Ms East charged the media to play its part. ‘Share the stories that this data reveals, shed light, be the change agents that your fellow Sierra Leoneans need you to be.’

Funded by UK aid, from the UK Government’s Department for International Development, the goal of SABI, which stands for Strengthening Accountability, Building Inclusion, is to strengthen delivery of the Local Government Act by supporting mechanisms for citizens to hold local government to account, allowing communities, service providers and local officials to identify concerns and work together to tackle issues.

A full report of the Citizen Perception Survey, and all the data it generated, are available on the SABI website www.sabi-sl.org/community-data. For more information contact Saiku Bah, SABI Head of Programmes at: sbah@christian-aid.org.