Aruna Lahai, Public Education Officer, ACC
A delegation from The Gambia has on Monday, July 25, 2022, held an inception meeting with the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) to mark the start of a week study tour of the operations of the Commission’s Grievance Redress Mechanism (GRM) platform. The delegation from the Gambia comprises officers from the Department of Community Development, Ministry of Finance Aid Coordination, National Social Protection Secretariat, Ministry of Information, and the World Bank office in The Gambia.
The GRM is a platform where project beneficiaries and other stakeholders raise grievances and make complaints or report on corruption during project implementation cycle. It has been an effective tool used by the ACC in institutionalizing transparency, accountability, early detection, assessment, and resolution of complaints and corruption prevention in target projects, especially the World Bank-funded Social Safety Net (SSN).
ACC is handling the GRM component of the SSN Project, and has scored many successes in preventing corruption during the course of implementation. Such corruption prevention successes have been hugely recognized by the World Bank and other countries in the sub–region, including The Gambia.
Explaining the purpose of their visit, the head of delegation, who doubles as the Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Vice President in The Gambia, Saikou Tarawally, explained the strong relationship and commonalities that exist between Sierra Leone and The Gambia. He also acknowledged the good work of the ACC in the control of corruption in Sierra Leone since its establishment. He went further to say that social protection services have been established in The Gambia for long but not in terms of GRM operations, as his country still has some challenges to address in that area. He added that they are therefore in Sierra Leone, after following several recorded successes, to learn and share their experiences in order to better organize GRM in Social Protection Services in The Gambia.
Responding, the Deputy Commissioner of the ACC, Augustine Foday Ngobie, welcomed The Gambian delegation and went further to highlight the general work of the ACC and the role the Commission plays in the implementation of GRM activities in social protection projects in Sierra Leone especially, the SSN. He explained the background to the establishment of the GRM through the support of the World Bank and UNICEF. The Deputy Commissioner went further to highlight the specific roles of the GRM structures such as Data Operators, District Monitors, Community Monitors etc. whose activities are supervised by the GRM Coordinator. He therefore assured the delegation that the Commission is willing to render all the needed support to make sure that the objectives of the working visit are achieved.
ACC’s GRM Coordinator, Patrick Sundufu Morovia, presented a summary of activities of the GRM, especially on how complaints are received from beneficiaries and how they are handled. He also presented some of the positive impact of GRM on the country and beneficiaries. He singled out the powers of the ACC and the role of the Public Education and External Outreach Department as part of the reasons behind the successes of the GRM in Sierra Leone. Through effective public education and external outreach, beneficiaries and other stakeholders have knowledge on the project purses and therefore know how to channel their complaints when aggrieved, he furthered.
The Social Protection Task Team Leader of the World Bank Office in Sierra Leone, Dr. Abu Kargbo, thanked the delegation for taking the decision to visit Sierra Leone on a study tour. He informed the delegation that since the involvement of the ACC in the implementation of the SSN through the GRM, the project has not had any major corruption-related issues. He expressed that beneficiaries are always informed about the project package and they have been receiving the correct package without cases of bribery or extortion. This has helped boost economic activities such as small scale businesses, farming, etc. in beneficiary communities, according to Dr. Kargbo.
As part of the plan, the delegation will visit various public offices in Sierra Leone, such as the National Commission for Social Action (NaCSA), the National Anti-Corruption Strategy Secretariat, the National Social Protection Secretariat etc. in order to learn their roles in the GRM implementation process. The delegation will also visit selected communities in Port Loko to interface with beneficiaries and stakeholders of the SSN Project.