‘Strengthening Relationships for Service Improvement’

SABI National Service Summit

On Thursday, 30th January 2020, the citizens led accountability project in Sierra Leone, SABI; which exists to create a more informed and empowered citizenry, that can hold effective and ongoing dialogue with better engaged and more accountable service providers, held a national service summit at the Family Kingdom resort, Aberdeen in Freetown.

The event brought together influential representatives from civil society, district councils, partner organisations, the media and government line ministries, to strengthen relationships between front-line service providers and service users.

The Keynote Speaker for the Summit was the Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary Education – Dr. David Moinina Sengeh. 

During the event, market stalls on Health, Education, Social Protection and Gender Equality and Social Inclusion were setup as learning booths, where citizens assembled on a rotational basis, to learn more about the innovation, progress and impact of the project. The SABI team and consortium partners shared flyers, brochures, change stories and learning products, including copies of the Citizens Perceptions Survey for Health, Education and Social Protection. Key individuals were stationed at each stall to explain the meaning of the data and other materials on display.

Market Stall

Market Stall

Market Stall

The summit created a responsive platform where over 200 citizens (from across the country) and state actors discussed the findings of the citizens perception survey and agreed on workable solutions to improve services in health education and social protection.

In his welcome address, the CEO of Focus1000 – Mr. Mohamed B. Jalloh stated that the purpose of the summit is to bring service providers and service users together to deeply examine service delivery, identify the gaps and the best way of addressing them.

Mr. Mohamed B. Jalloh – CEO of Focus1000

He expressed that there is need to know what citizens think about the services they receive in health, education and social protection, and encouraged all participants to see the summit as an opportunity to engage meaningfully on service delivery in Sierra Leone.

The chairman of the event, Dr. Amara Jambai, who is also the Chief Medical Officer, MoHS, opened with a statement on governance and accountability, noting that the involvement and voice of community people, who are partners and recipients of services, is very important.

Dr. Amara Jambai – Chief Medical Officer, MoHS

He thanked SABI and its partners, for supporting the accountability process by generating evidence of citizens perception in service delivery in health, education and social protection.

We have seen that the most difficult thing to measure is perception. Sometimes we go into communities and work without knowing what the people think and feel about the services we provide, well SABI has made it easier. The citizens perception for health, education and social protection are now here. This will serve as evidence for us as service providers to know whether we are doing well or we need to improve – Dr. Amara Jambai, Chief Medical Officer, MoHS.

The citizens perception data represents the everyday experiences of citizens using services, and covers a wide range of topics, including citizen’s satisfaction, utilization and quality of services provided in health, education and social protection.

In a strategic reflection on the programme, the Country Manager of Christian Aid, Mrs Jeanne Kamara, stated that Christian Aid has been in accountable governance for the past 20 years. Giving citizens an inclusive perspective to development, increasing their knowledge on rights and responsibilities.

Mrs Jeanne Kamara – Country Manager of Christian Aid

She disclosed that Christian Aid also works in health governance to empower poor and marginalised communities to influence the decisions that affect their lives.

We are happy for our SABI programme because it sits strongly on accountable governance and inclusion. SABI conducts policy literacy sessions and runs inclusive processes that helps people in communities to prioritise their problems and develop realistic action plans to solve them, this is so important to Christian Aid because we inspire communities to work together – Mrs Jeanne Kamara – Country Manager of Christian Aid.

With more sessions conducted on policy literacy in communities, Jeanne called on the people of Sierra Leone to embrace their rights and responsibilities and support the government to achieve its goals. She thanked the SABI team for inspiring change and pushing boundaries as a high performing agency.

Markus Weimer, the Senior Responsible Officer of DFID, said this strengthening accountability and building inclusion programme -SABI, is really at the centre of DIFD’s local accountability and helping to improve the delivery of quality services to citizens of Sierra Leone.

This is a programme that operates nationwide, in every district of Sierra Leone, in a sound and systematic way, that can be replicated and sustained, based on solid data that is very useful to transmit the concerns of community members to policy makers – Markus Weimer, the Senior Responsible Officer of DFID.

He pointed to the walls and market stalls at the summit, noting that there are lots of stories and evidence showing improvements made by the programme, coupled with his visit to the field where he saw change happening; including the building of new schools, clean water supply and how SABI supported DADA Sierra Leone to increase local revenue in two Chiefdoms in Bombali District.

Markus Weimer, Senior Responsible Officer – DFID

He added that SABI aims to work together with government in a collaborative and cooperative way and this summit is an opportunity for policy makers to learn more about empowering citizens, local administrations and structures.

Similarly, Hon. Melrose Kargbo, Deputy Minister of Local Government and Rural Development appreciates the summit because it has enabled service providers and service users to have frank conversations on service delivery. She further emphasised that continuous collaboration at local level is very key.

She stated that as a government, the president is committed to service delivery, and disclosed that 2020 has been declared as a year of delivery, and the Local Government Ministry is at the heart of it.

Hon. Melrose Kargbo – Deputy Minister of Local Government and Rural Development

The SABI programme works with all the levels of local governance in Sierra Leone, that is why our partnership with SABI, and its partners is very critical. We particularly appreciate the fact that they work with our ward committees to support their development plans. That’s the kind of engagement we want to see, because for us, the bottom top development approach is very key. That is what the people will own – Hon. Melrose Kargbo, Deputy Minister of Local Government and Rural Development. 

She thanked the organisers of the summit and stated that the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development is looking forward to more engagement with SABI and its partners to improve service delivery.

Responding to citizens perception data on social protection, the Director of Gender – Francis Kabia, acknowledge SABI for amplifying citizens voice and described the programme as a reflection of what social welfare is doing. The citizens perception data shows where things are going well, and which specific area needs improvement.

He pointed out that the Ministry of Social Welfare has a critical mandate to provide high quality social services to all vulnerable groups in the country. He outlines the services provided by the Social Welfare Ministry.

Responding to the citizens perceptions data on education, the National Programme Coordinator of the Free Quality School Education Programme – Amara Sowa, said he is very impressed by the work of SABI and added that the findings have added value to their work at the Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education.

He disclosed that when they started the Free Quality School Education Programme in September 2018, SABI conducted a quick survey and provided a snapshot perceptions data, of the experiences of people (headteachers, pupils, School Management Committees (SMC) and parents), using education services.

I think the education data is going to be very useful for us, because we cannot generate all the data that we need to do our work. We are currently restructuring the Ministry and data generation and analysis ids going form a core aspect in our policy decisions and intervention, so we need partners like SABI to work with as we use data to inform policies and design interventions. We are going to use the data that SABI has generated and it is going to be very useful for us – Amara Sowa, National Programme Coordinator of the Free Quality School Education Programme.

In an inspiring keynote address at the summit, the Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary Education – Dr. David Moinina Sengeh appreciates the summit because it brought together people and representatives from all over the country and thanked everyone present for participating in this process. He noted that knowing about services is very essential because it help people to make commitment to change for positive outcomes.

Dr. David Moinina Sengeh – Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary Education

We can only change society for the better, if we understand what services are provided, ask questions and share our perceptions, and that is what SABI has helped us to do – Dr. David Moinina Sengeh – Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary Education.

With a strong emphasis on gender equality and social inclusion, the minister observed that SABI started with the most important thing, data collection, and ensured that the data is representative of all the 16 districts of Sierra Leone, and disaggregated by age, gender, location, date & respondent type.

He reminded the public that His Excellency; Brig. Rtd. Julius Maada Bio, President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, has focused on human capital development to improve the lives of citizens of Sierra Leone. To make that happen, we need to take up responsibility and accountability for education and the transformation of Sierra Leone.  He informed that citizens voice matters and encourage all participants to be champions of change to transform their communities.

The citizens perception data talked about most reasons why girls drop out of school, but the main one is due to pregnancy. If a girl does not attend school for one year, gets pregnant and drops out of school, that affects the economy of the household, the economy in the village and the survival of her child in the future. Any additional year that girls spend in school, helps to improve their lives and the life of their children in the future – Dr. David Moinina Sengeh – Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary Education.

The minister challenged participants at the summit to increase their commitment to education by holding conversations with their children, after school, regarding their school work, visiting schools asking questions about teaching / learning materials and school feeding programme. As citizens, we are the only ones who can transformed Sierra Leone, he concluded.

Since the citizens perception survey represents the opinions and experiences of citizens accessing state services, to inform plans to address service delivery issues, the minister ended by making a big promise, to which participants gave a standing ovation.

As he endorses the education report, he said;

Today, I am going to make sure that His Excellency; Brig. Rtd. Julius Maada Bio, President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, see’s what is in the citizens perception survey report for education – Dr. David Moinina Sengeh – Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary Education

Restless Development presented the methodology of the citizens perceptions survey, based on programme reach, the process of recruiting Youth Accountability Volunteers, trainings conducted, methods of volunteer’s placement to communities, the community engagement processes leading up to the citizens perception survey, categories of respondents targeted and reached, infographic presentations and how action plans are developed.

Mr. Tamba Joel Yopoi, Assistant Programme Coordinator – Restless Development

Expanding further on the subject, Mr. Tamba Joel Yopoi, Assistant Programme Coordinator – Restless Development, explained that through it all, Restless Development has maintained a strong commitment to gender equality and social inclusion in all communities, as it is a core aspect of SABI’s theory of change.

Stakeholders reflected on the methodology of the programme and appreciated SABI for maximising citizens voice in Sierra Leone.

Stories of change and key findings of the citizens perception data in education, health and social protection were presented by Saiku Bah (SABI Team Leader) and Focus1000. A plenary discussion followed where participants shared thoughts on the programme. Live testimonies of programme impact were shared by community members.

The summit ended with an interesting skit performance by Network of Youth for Development (NYD), on the role of SABI in communities, and a closing remark from the CEO of Focus1000 – Mr. Mohamed B. Jalloh.

All SABI partners, including; Focus1000, Restless Development Sierra Leone, SEND Sierra Leone, Rehabilitation and Development Agency (RADA Sierra Leone) and Sierra Leone Social Aid Volunteers (SLSAV); were recognised and appreciated by stakeholders for supporting a high performing citizens led accountability project in Sierra Leone.

 

PHOTO (GALLERY) HIGHLIGHTS

SABI National Service Summit