May 25, 2018 By Ishmael Sallieu Koroma
Christian Aid has yesterday launched SABI –Strengthening Accountability, Building Inclusion perception survey at the British Council Hall, Tower Hill in Freetown.
SABI is a four-year citizen –led accountability programme funded by UKaid and it is being delivered by a consortium of international and Sierra Leonean partners, led by international development agency Christian Aid.
The perception survey captured areas from health, education, social protection, and general governance.
Country Manager of Christian Aid ,Jeanne Kamara , said her organisation has been in existence since the end of Second World War-first working with refugees who were affected by conflicts in Europe, adding that they have now been transformed into working mainly to development and eradicating poverty in the world.
Madam Kamara said the perception survey was very important, highlighting that data is very important because no country could develop without credible data.
She said they exist to end poverty, which she said is man-made problem and that they as an organisation were working with people in their own countries to ensure that they put in structures that would help with the issues of poverty reduction.
‘’Our budget standing has been working for the past year and have been working on collecting citizens’ perception and data to get citizens experience on using basic service,’ she said.
Team Leader, SABI, Jane East, said SABI is a 4 -year governance programme funded by the British tax payers through UKaid.
“We are seeking to improve the delivery of public services by building constructive dialogue between citizens and the state,” she said, adding that they wanted citizens to know their rights and entitlements to services, demanding better services and most importantly, they wanted to see citizens engaging with service providers including District Councils, MDAs, paramount chiefs’ health workers, amongst others.
The Team Leader said SABI has been operational for nearly two years and that their work began with their partner -Restless Development and the efforts of 100s of youth volunteers collecting information from community members across every district of the country.
“We have data from more than 45,000 individuals. We believe that we are creating a unique national resource in Sierra Leone, in terms of the geographic, thematic and demographic coverage of the data.”
East said the survey has statistical validity and that it was a snap shot, but reflective of the experiences of the whole of the Sierra Leonean population.
Key note speaker of the Programme, Lara Taylor –Pearce, Auditor General of Sierra Leone Audit Service, said the basic component of good governance is the ability for citizens to be informed, and that as an oversight practitioner ,it was gratifying to see that information publicly available has been and continues to be used to hold government to account .
“I encourage all ministries, departments and agencies in the public service ,as well as players in the NGO world ,to work together for an accountable and transparent Sierra Leone, ’Madam Pearce said.
Madam Pearce further said the citizens’ perception surveys did not only allow citizens to express their views, but also showed the reality of the impact of the services provided in the country.
She added that citizen’s engagement is key to the development of any country.
“The importance of accurate data for development cannot be over emphasized.”
SABI Head of Programmes, Saiku Bah, praised the efforts of the young volunteer data collectors, who diligently gathered evidence of Sierra Leonean experiences on health, education and social protection services.
“The result is a unique, ground breaking and historic data set. The sheer quantity of data and the wide range of topics it covers are impressive –as it is the fact that the information comes from the people who experience services every day,’ he said.
He said they hope the data will be genuine national resource, the go –to place for anyone who is implementing development activities in the health, education and social protection sectors in the country.