A World Bank Supervision Mission for the Decentralised Service Delivery Programme (DSDP) is making its first visit to Sierra Leone since the outbreak of the deadly Ebola Virus disease a year ago. The visit lasts from 8th to 18th June, and is led by Task Team leader, Randa El-Rashidi, The Mission is following up on implementation progress of DSDP and is also discussing the implementation arrangements for the Japan Social Development Fund Grant (JSDFG) Strengthening Capacity of Local Councils for the Delivery of Basic services in the Post-Ebola Context.
The Decentralized Service Delivery Programme (DSDP) is a World Bank funded initiative geared towards supporting the decentralized delivery of basic services in Sierra Leone. Conscious of the overall benefits of a decentralized system of governance whilst bearing in the mind the risks the system will face in the midst of inadequate financing of the devolved services, the World Bank in partnership with government Instituted the DSDP program to, amongst other things, improve on the availability and predictability of funding to local councils. The program through its component 1, provides additional resources for the delivery of devolved services for the five sectors of Health & Sanitation, Education, Social Welfare, Solid Waste Management and Rural Water. Through Component 2 of the project, technical assistance and funds are provided directly to Local Councils to strengthen their capacities for the effective delivery of devolved services. And component three of the programme focuses on Results and Social Accountability, with the impetus of encouraging discourse with the recipients of services delivered under the programme, and accordingly getting feedbacks from them, vis-avis, their perceptions about such services. Component 4 of the programme deals with Programme Management. During Phase 1 of the Programme which ran from 2010 to 2012, the focus was on strengthening the institutional and organizational capacities of Local Councils to implement the devolved services, while the second phase which is currently being implemented started in 2012, and focuses on translating the institutional and organizational capacity to better service outcomes.
|The Minister discusses with the TTL Randa El- Rashidi
According to a communiqué issued in advance of the visit the ‘Team will focusing on (i) the status of disbursements of DSDP funds (with special attention to the disbursement of grants to Local Councils) and review of the quality of works financed under component 1 of the project; (ii) the revised capacity building activities for Local Councils; (iii) social accountability interventions at the community level including the grievance redress mechanism (GRM) and community monitoring intervention; (GRM is a new phenomenon in DSDP, and it aims at creating avenues for beneficiary communities to express concerns, grievances etc, in respect of projects being implemented in their respective communities under DSDP); (iv) project monitoring; (v) procurement and financial management arrangements; and (vi) adherence to covenants and safeguards policies. The mission will assess progress for each project component, follow-up on the mainstreaming of functions of the Decentralization
Secretariat into the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, and follow up on the status of the devolution process.
|The Team meets with the DSDP In-country Team at the Dec-Sec Office, 9th Floor, Youyi Building
The mission is engaging the Integrated Project Administration Unit and the Local Government Finance Department of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, the Decentralization Secretariat of the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, Ministry of Education, Embassy of Japan, JICA and will meet with other stakeholders. The team will also undertake field visits to DSDP project sites, Local Councils and beneficiary communities.’
Meanwhile, members of the Mission have already met with the Minister of Finance and the Financial secretary during which both parties indicated their willingness and commitment to ensure continued success of the Decentralisation Programme.
On Tuesday, 9th instance, the Team met with the Minister of Local Government and Rural development, Diana Finda Konomanyi, and discussed issues relating to the advancement of decentralization in Sierra Leone. The Minister pledged her commitment to ensuring the mainstreaming of the decentralization Secretariat into her Ministry, promising to do all she could to ensure that mainstreaming takes place soonest. She explained the important role her Ministry played in breaking the chain of transmission of the Ebola Virus disease in the country, for which she acknowledged that tremendous support was received from the Ministry of Health and NERC. She pointed out the inevitability of her Ministry playing a pivotal role in the ebola fight as it encompasses all the state structures that deal with governing the people at the local level.
However, the Minister stressed the need for structures to be put in place to bring about a successful post-Ebola programme. In this regard she pin-pointed the need for donor partners to collaborate with one another to avoid duplication of interventions. She also lauded the Inter-Ministerial Committee for holding a fruitful and productive meeting recently, noting that this augurs well for the overall success of the Decentralisation Programme. The Permanent secretary, Dennis Vandi joined his Minister in expressing the need to improve the working capacity of core staff of local councils. They both spoke of the need for a workshop to be conducted to re-familiarize core staff with their roles and responsibilities.
Speaking in the same vein, the Director of the Decentralisation Secretariat, Alhassan Kanu hinted that work proficiency goes beyond knowledge and skills acquisition, and revealed that Dec-Sec plans to conduct a joint monitoring mission to all Local councils as a means of rejuvenating them.
The Task Team Leader, Randa El-Rashidi, reiterated the desire of the Bank to ensure that Local Councils readily access funds, and that the issue of frequent rotation of of staff is addressed.
The Minister of Health and Sanitation, Dr. Abubakarr Fofanah, who was also present at the meeting expressed grave concern over what he saw as an apparent lack of coordination in the intervention efforts of donor partners.
The Team has meanwhile found it necessary to meet with Local Councils to address challenges encountered in the implementation of DSDP 2 projects. The Decentralisation Secretariat is therefore bringing some categories of Local council staff to a one-day meeting on Friday, 12th June at the Hill Valley Hotel in Freetown. All 19 Local councils will be represented by their tion Facilitators. On the side of DSDP Managers will be staff members from the decentralization Secretariat; LGFD; IPAU; WB, MoFED and MLGRD.
The meeting is prompted by the fact that over the years the flow of funds from MoFEd to Local Councils has been a challenge facing the programme. The meeting will also discuss other emerging issues such human resource management and resource mobilization by Local Councils.
The Bank and the in-country DSDP Team believe that such a meeting will create an opportunity for frank dialogue leading to solutions agreeable to all. It is also believed that the meeting will bring about improvement in funds flow from LGFD to Local councils, and that Local councils will be better placed to implement post-Ebola activities.
The Team and the In-country hosts are holding video conferences with the Kenya devolution Team (devolution is capital issue in the Decentralization Programme); with the Ghana office on strengthening overall M&E in the Programme; with the Embassy of Japan on the Japan Social Development Fund.
The ten-day visit also witnesses discussions on issues such as: ‘Financial Management and Procurement – progress and challenges’; ‘the communication strategy for the decentralization programme, and communication challenges for GRM’ as well as general discussion on environmental and social safeguards.
The Acting Coordinator of IPAU, Adams kargbo and the Acting Director of LGFD, Alpha Umaru Jalloh are leading discussions on the side of the In-country DSDP Team.
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Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.
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