By: Aruna Lahai, Public Education Officer, ACC.
The Grievance Redress Mechanism (GRM) Unit of the Anti –Corruption Commission (ACC) on Monday 18th July, 2022 commenced a four–day Retreat at the YAD Conference Hall, Maxwell Khobe Street, in Kenema, to review the GRM Manual for the implementation of the first phase of the “Productive Social Safety Net and Youth Empowerment (PSSNYE) Project”. The PSSNYE Project is a US$ 40.0 Million World Bank approved project which will give social protection support to the Government of Sierra Leone (GoSL) for 5 years, 2022 to 2027. It will provide much needed technical and financial support to the GoSL to advance the agenda of social protection and jobs. The Project Development Objective is: “to improve access to social safety nets and income generating opportunities for targeted beneficiaries”.
Addressing participants at the Retreat, the ACC Commissioner Francis Ben Kaifala expressed that the review was timely and therefore encouraged all to fully participate. He acknowledged the good work of the ACC GRM Unit through regular updates, robust monitoring of project activities, effective handling of complaints from beneficiaries and stakeholders etc. As a corruption prevention tool, Commissioner Ben Kaifala encouraged the team to continue the good work, adding that project beneficiaries stand to benefit in projects that are corrupt free. The ACC boss motivated staff to always look for options to handle work related challenges as a key to staff productivity and time management in the work place.
The ACC Deputy Commissioner, Augustine Foday Ngobie, who supervises the GRM Unit in the Commission, in his opening statement, as Chairman of the program, re-echoed the successes of the GRM in previous and ongoing projects through effective monitoring and complaints handling from beneficiaries and stakeholders. He emphasized that through the GRM, such projects have had increased transparency in delivery and implementation and guaranteed more confidence for donors to continue supporting the country with various social protection interventions.
The PSSNYE project has five major components which include; Social Safety Nets (SSN) Cash Transfers and Provision of Economic Inclusion Support; Labor Intensive Public Works (LIPWs) and Life Skills Support for Youth; Employment and Entrepreneurship Support for Youth; Systems Development, Institutional Strengthening and Project Management Support; and Contingent Emergency Response. The National Commission for Social Action (NaCSA), the Ministry of Youth Affairs (MoYA), and the National Youth Commission (NaYCOM) will lead the direct project implementation while the ACC will lead the Grievance Redress Mechanism (GRM) corruption prevention component of the project.
The GRM is a channel for beneficiaries and other stakeholders to raise grievances and make complaints or report on corruption during the implementation of projects. It has been an effective tool in institutionalizing transparency, accountability, early identification, assessment, and resolution of complaints and corruption prevention in target projects, and in particular seeks to minimize corruption risks.
In a bid to replicate same in the new World Bank approved multifaceted project, the ACC reaffirms its continued committed to enhancing opportunities for grievance redress and collaborative problem solving on the project through effective monitoring to strengthen GRM during the course of the project implementation. This commitment requires a review of the existing GRM Manual in order to capture the other components relating to the other implementing partners (MoYA and NaYCOM).
A testament to the importance of the review of the GRM manual to fit into the new project, and to give the document the required input across all levels, provides for the ACC Commissioner, Deputy Commissioner, Directors of some Departments, Regional Managers and District Monitors participating in the Retreat.
The Retreat will end with a reviewed GRM Manual which will be consistent with the new project framework, with emphasis on, how the ACC will work collaboratively with implementing partners for effective monitoring, how complaints from the project beneficiaries/stakeholders of the projects would be channelled; and how the complaints would be handled across different layers, in order to improve effective public service delivery.