By: Aiah Sourie and Amie Massaquoi
A team led by the Deputy Director from the Anti-Corruption Commission’s Public Education and Outreach Department in Freetown has sensitized stakeholders and other participants on the Sierra Leone Community Development Driven (SLCDD) Project, which is commonly known as ‘GIETRENK’. The two separate meetings were held on 4th and 5th April, 2022 in Mange, Bureh Chiefdom, Port Loko District and Masingbi, Khonike Sanda Chiefdom, Tonkolili District, respectively. Beneficiaries of the awareness-raising engagements included residents and authorities of the targeted towns.
The SLCDD Project or ‘GIETRENK’ is funded by the Islamic Development Bank and the Government of Sierra Leone and implemented by the National Commission for Social Action (NaCSA), Senior Communication Officer, ACC, Alhaji A.K. Bangura stated, while he was declaring the purpose of the meeting. He added that the Project targets seven poverty-stricken chiefdoms in Port Loko and Tonkolili districts in the Northwest and Northeast regions; Moyamba and Kenema districts in the Southern and Eastern regions respectively. He further explained that ‘GIETRENK’ is focused on reducing poverty and achieving enduring progress in the welfare of poor rural communities in the country.
Deputy Director of ACC’s Public Education and Outreach Department, Abubakarr Turay, who led the ACC team, said the project provided for the construction of primary and junior secondary schools, boreholes, community health posts, among other facilities, in the beneficiary communities. Under this Project, he said, Mange in Port Loko benefitted from a community health post and primary school, while Masingbi benefitted from primary and secondary schools and public toilets. He encouraged the people of the two communities to take firm ownership of the Project and freely raised their concerns, questions, and suggestions, which were informed by their experiences with regard the implementation of the Project in their respective communities. Community involvement during and after implementation of the Project, he emphasized, would go a long way to preclude corruption and corrupt practices for the good of the entire community.
Concerning the Grievance Redress Mechanism (GRM) component of ‘GIETRENK’, the Deputy Director revealed that the ACC and NaCSA have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to solidify their efforts to attain transparency and accountability in service delivery to the citizenry. ‘The SLCDD Project provides a GRM platform, through the ACC, to capture genuine complaints or concerns from beneficiaries who, in one way or the other, feel affected or likely to be negatively affected by the ‘GIETRENK’ Project’, adding that the Secretariat also identifies and records the views of persons who wish to contribute to the implementation of the Project.’ The Team-lead therefore implored the participants to state issues or concerns related to the Project.
The Mange and Masingbi communities were also encouraged to invariably resist and report corruption. As highlighted by Amie Massaquoi, Assistant Information Officer, corruption distorts efforts to alleviate poverty in rural communities. She urged the stakeholders at the meetings to show exemplary leadership to ward off corruption in their respective communities, in order for other members to follow suit, while giving an overview of the country’s 83% stellar performance on the 2021 Millennium Challenge Corporation ‘Control of Corruption’ indicator.
On reward and incentives for corruption whistleblowers and informants scheme, the Communication Officer informed the meeting that anyone who provides relevant intelligence that leads to prosecution and conviction or recovery of funds or property from a corrupt person will be rewarded 10% of the sum withheld by the Commission. She urged members of the two communities to seize the opportunity, pointing out that the rationale behind the scheme is to involve the masses in reporting corruption to the ACC.
The Section Chief of Mange Pa Alimamy Lai Tubangay III and the Chiefdom Speaker of Khonike Sanda Chiefdom, Sheriff Abass Bundu welcomed the ACC team to their respective communities. They thanked the ACC team for the meetings, vowing that they would play their role and work with the Commission to achieve the goals of the ‘GIETRENK’ Project.
The two communities overwhelmingly praised the facilities provided under the project but raised a couple of concerns. In Mange, some of the concerns raised by the people include; the insufficient quarters for staff of the health post, the unstable electricity at the health post and the lack of water facility at the primary school constructed under the project. Residents of Masingbi raised concerns over the leaking roof at the primary school. “At the start of the Project, we were promised a solar farm, resource centre, borehole and a referral hospital, but we have not seen any of these facilities,” Joseph Kamara, a resident of Masingbi complained.