By: Martina George, Communications Officer.
Community engagement always provides an interactive platform to enhance public awareness and participation in the Anti-Corruption campaign. Therefore, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) remains resolute in reaching out to people of different spectrums of society, which in effect inevitably enhances the fight against corruption.
In a bid to ensure effective monitoring, transparency and accountability in the implementation of the Social Safety Net (SSN) project funded by the World Bank and UNICEF, a team from the Public Education and External Outreach Department of the ACC embarked on a weeklong sensitization of beneficiaries on the Grievance Redress Mechanism (GRM) in Bombali, Tonkolili, Koinadugu and Falaba District respectively. The sensitization which was done at Masongbo Village Community Centre in Bombali District, MCHAID training hall in Magburaka, Tonkolili District, Kabala Youth Centre Hall, Kabala, Koinadugu District and Sesayla Pay Point, Kamadugu Section Falaba District, attracted traders, farmers, carpenters and bricklayers who were also beneficiaries of the said project.
Speaking at the engagements, the Head of the Team Ag. Deputy Director of the Public Education and External Outreach Department, Michael Sesay, gave an overview of the SSN/GRM project, in which he said, the Commission has keen interest to ensure that the implementation of the SSN project runs smoothly. He established the role ACC plays in the SSN project, which is to address the GRM, stating that, the prevalence of corruption in such project has far reaching negative effects on the beneficiaries.
He added that, the Commission is committed to see that the funds which amount to ONE THOUSAND, THREE HUNDRED AND EIGHT NEW LEONES (NLe.1,308,00) per household meet its intended beneficiaries in the implementation of the project. Mr. Sesay implored community stakeholders to support the process as the project aims at improving the livelihoods of the extremely poor and vulnerable people.
ACC’s Communications Officer, Martina George, stated that, the beneficiaries have the responsibility to utilize the funds for the enhancement of their livelihood by way of engaging in small businesses, sending their child/children to school and having a roof over their heads, which will bring about a positive change in their life styles. She maintained that the meeting was to further empower beneficiaries on their rights and responsibilities and to also update them on the positive interventions made by the Commission for a successful project implementation. She encouraged beneficiaries to report any of their grievances or challenges to the Commission pertaining to the SSN project and whether community stakeholders or the project partners are soliciting money from them.
Addressing participants at the various engagements, ACC’s District Monitors, emphasized that reporting corruption is the road map towards fighting corruption. They stated that the focus of the grievance redress component of the project handled by the ACC is not prosecution, but resolutions and administrative actions. They further noted that, when there are incidences of suspected corruption they would be treated seriously by the Commission.
At Masongbo village in Makeni, Bombali District, the Town Chief Alie .A. Sesay appreciated the ACC for the good work in addressing corruption in the SSN project. He maintained that the SSN beneficiaries are making good use of the money by educating their children, petty trading, farming, construction of dwelling houses and medication, among others.
Similarly, the Chairperson of the Sierra Leone Union on Disability Issues (SLUDI) in Kabala Koinadugu District, Mariama .B. Jalloh in her contribution confessed that the SSN beneficiaries especially the disabled persons are grateful to the World Bank, UNICEF, NaCSA and ACC for alleviating their poverty.
Beneficiaries speaking on behalf of their colleagues thanked the donors and project implementers for improving their lives through the SSN project. They particularly acknowledged the ACC for ensuring that the project is transparent. Kadiatu Koroma a blind woman from Masongbo village in Makeni, Bombali District noted that with her SSN money, she has constructed a five bed room house for her family, and embarked on trading and farming whilst educating her children. She appealed to the donors of the project, through the ACC to extend the project to their colleagues who have not benefited from it before.