BY: EDWARD N. BLAKE
The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) through its Public Education and External Outreach Department, led by the Head of Unit, Public Education Michael Sesay, from 26th to 30th April, 2022, held community Town Hall engagements in GBENDEMBU Community in Bombali District (26thApril, 2022) , OLD MAGBURAKA Town in Tonkolili District (28th April, 2022), YAGALA-YATAYA in Koinadugu District (29th April, 2022) and DOGOLAYA Community in Falaba District (30th April, 2022), to sensitize and raise beneficiaries’ awareness on the significance of the Social Safety Net (SSN) program.
Giving an overview of the Grievance Redress Mechanism in the Social Safety Net COVID-19 program, Mr. Sesay stated that prior this time, there were lots of discrepancies and other associated risks or anomalies in the payment of beneficiaries of the SSN programmes. To avert this he stated that the Government of Sierra Leone and its partners decided on have a grievance redress component within the SSN, spearheaded by the ACC, to receive, process and address grievances and complaints from beneficiaries through a well structure and accessible Grievance Redress Mechanism (GRM). Michael Sesay also furthered that, the GRM manned by the ACC is a calculated effort by the Donors to ensure that transparency and accountability are deeply rooted in the project implementation process.
Speaking on the role of the ACC in the implementation of the SSN project, Public Education Officer, ACC, Edward Nathaniel Blake said, it can in no way be unconnected to the monitoring of the project implementation and ensuring that the correct and exact amount of monies are paid to beneficiaries. Mr. Blake also said, the ACC was to stimulate in beneficiaries the urge and desire to properly and judiciously utilize funds received from donors. He also said that emerging issues over the years have shown that incomplete payments were done and beneficiaries were not provided with channels to complain incidences of suspected corruption.
Dilating on the impact of the SSN/GRM COVID-19 project on the people, District Monitors in Bombali, Tonkolili, Koinadugu and Falaba said from a position of strength that the project has had positive impact on the lives of the people, to an extent that some households are now engaged in some form of petty trading while others have been able to fully support their children in school.
The SSN project is funded by the World Bank and the Government of Sierra Leone, implemented by the National Commission for Social Action (NaCSA), with Rokel Commercial Bank making the direct cash payment to beneficiaries and the ACC has been providing support in the form of awareness raising and sensitization on the project and create visibility on the Grievance Redress system.
Most of the participants in all of the four Communities engaged expressed thanks and appreciation to the donors for their thoughtfulness in helping them improve on their standard of living, but most especially the ACC for their timely intervention in ensuring that direct cash payment process is transparent, credible and with less hustle.
The engagements in all the four SSN beneficiary communities were climaxed by questions and answers sessions.