By Aruna Lahai, Public Education Officer
The National Commission for Social Action (NaCSA) has started the payment of cash to vulnerable households that were targeted and enrolled across the 16 districts under the World Bank-supported Social Safety Net (SSN) Project.
A total of 35,000 vulnerable and extremely poor household heads were enrolled to benefit from cash payment for 2021. In total, the 2021 fourth tranche payment of cash to the 35,000 beneficiaries has been scheduled in four phases. Phase one, which is ongoing, is targeting five districts : Western Area Urban and Rural, Port Loko, Kambia and Karene. Payments in these districts are expected to last for approximately one week, and be followed by the other phases. Phase Two will target 3 districts : Kenema, Moyamba and Pujehun; Phase Three will target 3 districts : Bombali, Kono and Falaba; while Phase Four will target 5 districts : Bo, Bonthe, Kailahun, Koinadugu and Tonkolili.
Through a memorandum of understandingwith NaCSA, which is the implementing agency, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) is handling the Grievance Redress Mechanism component of the project. Under this activity, the Commission is primarily responsible for monitoring the payment of cash to the enrolled beneficiaries in a bid to provide a platform for beneficiaries and citizens to express their grievances about the implementation of the project. This also ensures that the project is starved of corrupt practices. Specifically, the monitoring team is in the field to make sure that beneficiaries receive the actual amount designed and approved in the project package as measure of transparency and accountability.
In a bid to attach more importance to the SSN Cash payments, the Office of the Commissioner, represented by the Deputy Commissioner Augustine Foday Ngobie, is part of the monitoring team. Since the start of the cash payment, Mr Ngobie has been carrying out on-the-spot visits to payment points in order to get first-hand information on the payment and to ascertain that the exercise is going on as planned.
The Deputy Commissioner has during his engagements with beneficiaries emphasized the stance of the ACC against corruption in the Social Safety Net Project implementation and will therefore not hesitate to report, investigate, and prosecute any persons engaged in any corrupt practices during the payment exercise.
The Project Coordination Unit headed by Patrick Sundufu Morovia has also deployed staff and Community Monitors to the field to monitor the exercise. The monitoring team is to ensure that the project’s means of verification for the delivery of cash to beneficiaries is followed by the payment service provider- Rokel Commercial Bank.
Community Monitors have been receiving and recording complaints/grievances from the beneficiaries and stakeholders which will be compiled and referred to the Commission and NaCSA for redress. It is also important to note that, through the expertise of the field staff, some grievances were addressed in the field to the satisfaction of the beneficiaries and other stakeholders.