‘SABI doesn’t provide a service – it supports communities to find solutions for themselves’

Women standing and sitting together

SABI’s partners on the ground, hardworking civil society organisations that reach into every corner of the country, are playing a key role in supporting communities, local bodies and government to work together to ensure people receive the essential services they are entitled to.

SEND, which delivers the SABI programme in eastern Sierra Leone, has been educating communities about government policies on health, education and social protection, and how basic services are supposed to be delivered.

Joseph Ayamga, director of SEND Sierra Leone, said: ‘This ‘policy literacy’ work is to enable the service providers and service users to understand their roles and responsibilities, how they can access those services and, when gaps exist, how they make sure they find solutions to those problems themselves before they request support from other people or government ministries.’

Joseph Ayamga, director of SEND Sierra Leone (centre), with other members of the SABI team in Bayama community.

Ward development committees

SEND has been carrying out capacity assessments of the various official bodies and groups involved in advocating for, and delivering, public services in Sierra Leone. They have begun with ward development committees (WDCs), the elected local committees which are meant to ensure grassroots participation in development planning.

‘WDC members are supposed to be promoting development in the wards,’ Joseph added. ‘So, we do an assessment to know what their capacities are, what are the gaps, and how we can strengthen them to facilitate some of the activities that SABI aims to implement.’

Fatoma Moekoindor is a member of his local WDC in Bayama community, Tankoro chiefdom, Kono district. ‘SABI has come to teach us about awareness raising. Now that we are working with SABI we can understand the mission. Whatever the government promises and does, we can disseminate to the community people.’

The WDC’s role, he explained, is to call community meetings, to discuss needs, which the WDC then discusses and presents to the district council. One of the community’s biggest needs is light.

‘We have done an assessment of the structures that exist in this community, this ward, and in this district. We have been able to map out all the structures we can work with for the next three years.’
Joseph Ayamga, Director, SEND Sierra Leone

Developing capacity and confidence

‘We don’t have light. Education and health, we manage at some level. We are working together. But there is no light. The government promised us that they will produce light for this community about three years ago. Nothing has happened.’

Now Fatoma hopes new capacity and confidence developed through SABI will help the community to take their case to the government.

SEND has also conducted capacity assessments of traditional leaders, and other bodies which provide services, such as women’s groups and groups for people with disabilities. These assessments help them to design capacity building activities and leadership training.

Increasing the capacity of local people and bodies is key, Joseph explained. ‘SABI doesn’t provide a service. It works with the community people to find a solution for themselves. But they need to have the capacity. We are doing that now and the other activities will follow.’

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