SABI intervention improves the work of Kenema District Council

SABI intervention improves the work of Kenema District Council.

SABI intervention improves the work of Kenema District Council.

While SABI worked with citizens to identify problems, increase awareness and demand for the delivery of basic services – including health, education and social protection, the programme also worked with state service providers and district councils across the country, to fulfill their own responsibilities for the acquisition social amenities.

District councils in Sierra Leone coordinate all development activities in their respective communities, wards and chiefdoms, to ensure governance and accountability through a democratic process, aimed at development, improved and effective service delivery.

However, district councils in Sierra Leone are faced with numerous challenges in their localities in terms of mobilization of domestic resources, high dependency on donor support and the legislation lapses in harmonizing with existing laws most of which are obsolete.

In May 2017, SABI conducted a training for Councillors and Ward Committees in all the 16 districts of Sierra Leone. The training increased knowledge on their roles and responsibilities, including the accountable governance pathways. This provided clarity on the respective governance structures that are in place to oversee education and health service delivery in Sierra Leone.

SABI further conducted policy literacy sessions, which became an eye opener to policy provisions, citizen’s role and responsibilities, including practical ways of putting the accountable governance pathways into action.

Now citizens are aware, and are able to raise concerns relating to service delivery. This has been a key inhibitor to citizens engaging with the state.

In Kenema District, Eastern Sierra Leone, the Council works in all 25 wards, but SABI intervened in 8, through SEND Sierra Leone, a SABI partner in the East. The Councillors in these 8 wards have shown great improvements in their work and made significant changes in their wards. They are now able to better articulate the problems in their wards, mobilize people and resources. They usually present evidence from the SABI inspired action plans and infographics to justify the need for support. The district council in Kenema is now aware of citizens concerns because they have vibrant and knowledgeable Councillors.

 

The burden is low less on council, people now take responsibility in solving their own problems. If there are no benches in schools, it sometimes takes long for council to mobilize support, but with SABI, citizens will go all the way in solving problems. The council appreciates SABI for this accountable governance pathway, it even helps us explain linkages to councillors. With this I can best describe the work of SABI, as teaching people how to fish, instead of giving them fish – Seibatu Koroma – Development and Planning Officer, Kenema District Council.

In their quarterly partner’s coordination meetings, District councils now display and share SABI action plans, they encourage partners operating in health, education and social protection to supporting communities in addressing acute challenges. This is how district councils have been able to mobilize support to provide basic facilities in communities, and partners identify problems and include them in their work plans.

For instance, the Ministry of Education in Kenema District, took up the task to provide desk and chairs to schools in Nomo and Gaura Chiefdoms, based on action plans submitted by the district council, during coordination meeting.

SABI conducted several rounds of service summits at district and national level. These summit initiated useful conversations that led district councils to understand the challenges and gaps in service delivery, but agree on the best way to improve services. These summits create an opportunity for councils to incorporate best practices from other districts.

As a result, Kenema district council have created roads to enable citizens access more services, ensure that schools and offices have a ramp, developed water facilities and increased the participation of women and person with disabilities.

The district councils now see the need to sustain the gains and approaches of the SABI project. In Kenema District, the council have incorporated Gender Equality and Social Inclusion (GESI), action plan development and the accountable governance pathways. In fact, the Kenema district council intends to work with citizens in all the 25 wards to review its development plan in June 2021. The SABI action plan, accountable governance pathways an GESI strategy will be used as reference documents during that process.

 

With the level of awareness and capacity SABI has provided to the council, I think SABI will still stay, even if the project scale down. That is why incorporating their key innovations of the project is very important. We also intend to replicate these planning meetings to the other wards where SABI was not working – Patrick Jakayma – Deputy Chief Administrator, Kenema District Council.

 

The SABI project acknowledges council to the fullest, from planning to implementation, council has always been involved – Seibatu Koroma – Development and Planning Officer, Kenema District Council.

 

This is an example of how SABI has supported and strengthened national, district and local governance structures for effective state–citizen engagement.

The project gathered and generated evidence of citizens’ experiences of accessing state services to inform plans to address service delivery issues. We have strengthened the delivery of the Local Government Act by supporting and establishing community accountability networks.