By: Alhaji A.K. Bangura - Senior Communications Officer, ACC
The Sierra Leone Community Driven Development Project (SLCDD) also named as ‘GIETRENK’, is a project funded by the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) in collaboration with the Government of Sierra Leone (GoSL) to promote access to socio-economic opportunities and build capacity and services for the rural poor communities. Implemented by the National Commission for Social Action (NaCSA), 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.
The ‘GIETRENK’ is focused on reducing poverty and achieving enduring progress in the welfare of poor rural communities in the targeted areas. It provides for the construction of primary and junior secondary schools, boreholes, community health posts, public toilets, solar panels for electricity generation, among other facilities, in the beneficiary communities.
While the accountability and inclusiveness of institutions are often considered key determinants of economic performance, there is an understanding about how institutions should be designed towards achieving this goal. To enhance this in the project, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) and the National Commission for Social Action (NaCSA) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to further strengthen their collaborative effort in order to heighten transparency and quality service delivery to the people of Sierra Leone. The fundamental reason for the protocols in this partnership is the inclusion and implementation of the Grievance Redress Mechanism (GRM) in the SLCDD.
The ACC is leading in the corruption prevention work through the GRM being its primary objective to familiarize and discuss the roles and responsibilities of the ACC in the ‘GIETRENK’ Project. This mechanism was specifically designed to serve as a means to lodge complaints by project beneficiaries who feel that the project has positively affected or negatively impacted their livelihoods. The ACC’s role is also to ensure that projects designed for the deprived communities are implemented appropriately and to put community beneficiaries in a better position to complain instances of corruption.
Recently, two teams from the Public Education and Outreach Department of the Commission conducted outreach meetings with one team targeting Mange Town in Port Loko District and Masingbi Town in Tonkolili District, while the other team was in Bradford, Ribbi Chiefdom, Moyamba District and in Kenema, Lower Bambara Chiefdom, in Kenema District.
During those engagements, residents of the project areas spoke of the monumental gains of the ‘GIETRENK’. In Mange, for example, there were words of appreciation for the community health post which the people say is very important in providing the basic health needs of the community. They also pointed out the role of the school in the provision of primary school education for children in the community and those nearby. In Bradford, in Moyamba District, the participants of the meeting were quick to speak of the impact of the project on their community, especially the construction of the Health Care and Resource centers. Similar sentiments were expressed by beneficiaries in Kenema City, Kenema District.
Amid the pleasant stories of the project, there were also concerns raised by beneficiaries. In Mange, people were concerned about the non-availability of ambulance; something they claimed was part of the initial project plan. They also complained that they were initially informed that a referral hospital would be constructed and not the health post that is there now. In the area of the school, they complained of the lack of water even though, according to them, construction of a borehole was part of the plans. In Bradford and Kenema, beneficiaries noted that the construction works have outlived their timeframes and also expressed concern on the non-involvement of the locals in the civil works.
As the institution handling the GRM component of the project, the ACC has been compiling and analyzing these concerns and complaints in a bid to addressing them, either by means of investigation or by referral to the appropriate bodies- IsDB and NaCSA.