See how trained Councillors are now leading development

Before 2016, citizens led accountable governance in Sierra Leone was not visible, due to numerous barriers that prevent citizens from effectively engaging with service providers and decision-makers. There was the need to improve the relationship between frontline service providers and citizens (service users).

SABI programme did this by supporting the strengthening of the national, district and local governance structures for effective state-citizen engagement.

In Koinadugu District, for instance, SABI intervened in 4 wards; including ward 145, Wara Wara Bafodia Chiefdom, Koinadugu District Councilor. The programme conducted accountable governance training for Ward Development Committees (WDCs) and Councillors, including policy literacy sessions that increased their understanding of rights and responsibilities.

SABI further guided the election of ward committee members to make sure everyone is included, and no one is left behind.

A key aspect of this intervention was the introduction of Gender Equality and Social Inclusion (GESI) and accountable governance pathways. This enabled Councillors and Ward Development Committees to work as partners and connect citizens to their service providers.

With healthcare challenges identified by people in ward 145, Kaponpon section, Councilor Zainab Kamara who benefited from SABI training led an initiative to build a health centre that will benefit three surrounding communities. The trained Councilor mobilised local authorities and the youths in the community, including Ward Development Committees and approached the DHMT for support.  The community people provided land and produced mud bricks to kick start the project.

Councilor Zainab Kamara

Councilor Zainab Kamara involved the DHMT, District Council and stakeholders within the Wara Wara Bafodia Chiefdom throughout the planning. The community negotiated an agreement to secure the land for the health centre.

They didn’t stop there, based on the oversight provided by the DHMT, Councilor Zainab Kamara led the committee that developed the health centre building plan and negotiated with a local contractor to work on the project.

A layout has been done and the community is now looking forward to the completion and launching of their new health centre.

In a similar engagement, Councilor Zainab Kamara now gives advice to neighbouring Chiefdoms (like Thamso Chiefdom) in the district on how to undertake community-driven projects based on knowledge obtained from the SABI programme.

Councilor Zainab Kamara now uses her ward committee meetings as a platform where citizens are enabled to raise concerns on the most urgent issues affecting them in health, education and social protection, and actions points agreed on going forward. These action plans are then forwarded to the District Council in Koinadugu District where Councilor Zainab Kamara makes a presentation during partners coordination meeting to obtain support on behalf of the people in her ward.

In Koinadugu District, SABI intervened in 4 wards; including ward 142, 143, 144 and 145. Apart from ward committees the councillor also visited schools and hospitals to engage teachers and nurses, including the facility management committees.

In Simama Community, before the intervention of SABI, community people did not value health and education, traditional medicine was popularly used instead of prescribed drugs. But with the intervention of Councilor Zainab Kamara, who led a policy literacy session on health and education, in Simama Community, the knowledge of people in the community was increased. Now clinic visits have increased, and antenatal and post-natal care have improved. Over time this has developed a healthy mindset among the people in Simama Community and the ripple effect has enabled people in nearby communities to adopt similar healthy lifestyles.

As a councillor, I felt proud to have SABI receive support from SABI. I am a new Councilor, if I didn’t have SABI project to give me some guidance on how to go about developmental activities and how to channel issues it would have been difficult. With SABI I was able to hit the ground running. With SABI, we elected ward committees inclusively, and that has created an impact in the council and even in the lives of the people. Now it is clear to see, you will really know that Councillors and ward development committees in SABI communities are more active and vibrant than the others. Also, people are more informed about their role and responsibilities, now they are able to take responsibility, by identifying and channelling their problems through their Councillor. We really appreciate SABI for coming to this District.

– Councilor Zainab Kamara, Ward 145.

Councilor Sarah Kamara

Councilor Sarah Kamara, ward of 144 Wara Wara Bafodia Chiefdom, Koinadugu District, who also benefited from SABI training reflected on the intervention of SABI.

I want to say a big thank you to SABI for the wonderful work that they have done since the start of the intervention in 2016, of course, SABI doesn’t give money but they will link you up. SABI has taught that everyone is important in development and no one should be left behind. Before people did not know where to seek help, but now everyone enlightened, my people are in ward 144 but their concerns can be made known district and national level. That is the magic of the programme. The engagement from SABI has led to more pupils getting access to schools, pregnant and lactating mothers getting access the health facility. Women and persons with disability being included and getting to facilities and services.

SABI meetings and learning sessions became an eye-opener to us. We now understand our role in solving the problems in our respective communities.


Similarly, in Kenema District, the Development and Planning Officer (DPO) reflected on the intervention of SABI.

Seibatu Koroma – Development and Planning Officer, Kenema District Council.

The councillors from SABI communities are 5 times more effective than the other councillors. SABI did not only enhance their knowledge in accountable governance, the programme also energized them to make a difference. We now have councillors from SABI communties coming to us with home grown initiatives that help to execute our development plans, and they do it happily and inclusively with their people.

– Seibatu Koroma – Development and Planning Officer, Kenema District Council.

As the SABI project scales down across the country, Councillors together with the ward development committee have decided to continue SABI engagements by holding meetings, radio discussions to give citizens a voice and hold service providers accountable. Through it all, they will uphold the development of action plans, accountable governance pathways, gender equality and social inclusion.