May 6, 2015 By Solomon Yarjoh
After cessation of hostilities and the declaration of the end of Sierra Leone’s civil war, it was evident that many organizations implemented community projects in various parts of the country. With millions of dollars offered by international donors and partners to the country for post-war activities, not much was actually realized as many of the projects had no sustainability plans, thus they collapsed.
One of the factors that led to the collapse of many projects was the non-involvement of affected communities. A good number of affected communities were not consulted to identify needs and how they all could work towards sustaining them.
Based on these experiences, and in order to avoid such mistakes in post-Ebola activities, Fambul Tok International-Sierra Leone has commenced community consultations in Kailahun District to allow people identify their needs and also link them with appropriate organizations. These consultations are vital as community members speak frankly on how they were affected by the Ebola disease, how they could work as individuals and collectively to ensure that the disease does not re-emerge, and how they could work with councils and other partners to rebuild their various communities.
Given the destruction caused by the Ebola virus disease in the Kissi Teng Chiefdom, Kailahun District, the people in the area are now determined to ensure that Ebola does not re-occur any more in their communities.
Kissi Teng registered the index case of Ebola on May 25, 2014 and within three months, over 140 people were infected by the virus in the chiefdom. With over 145 days of no new infection in the entire district, the people of Kissi Teng, like other affected communities, are grappling with numerous post-Ebola challenges.
During consultations in Toli Section on April 21, 2015, representatives from all 14 villages convened in Koindu town to highlight challenges relating to post-Ebola. Participants admitted that they have a lot of issues affecting them such as Ebola orphans, widows and widowers, and agreed to work towards “no more Ebola”in their chiefdom in particular and Sierra Leone as a whole. After the consultations, participants were encouraged to be holding regular meetings in their respective villages to highlight post-Ebola issues and how they intend to tackle them.
On 27 April this year, another meeting was held in Toli Section and this time round participants catalogued a number of issues and suggested means to resolve them.
During the meeting, community members pointed out four key areas that should be addressed in the Section. They include loan/community grants, agriculture and sectional memorial service for the dead, especially those as a result of Ebola.
In his remarks, Executive Director of Fambul Tok International-Sierra Leone, John Caulker, pointed out lapses in project implementation after the war. He said almost all post-war projects in the country had no sustainability plans, attributing this to the non-involvement of affected beneficiaries.
He said Fambul Tok has initiated the consultations so that the mistakes of the past could be avoided and that communities should be fully involved in whatever post-Ebola activities being undertaken in their areas.
Fambul Tok, he said, does not give out money but creates space for community healing and reconciliation, adding that the organization links communities with the Kailahun District Council and other partners so that whatever is designed for community development goes directly to the communities.
A representative of the Kailahun District Council, Donald Koroma, highlighted the devolved functions of his council, noting that most people blame them because they do not know how councils operate. He said his presence at the meeting was significant to know the problems of post-Ebola communities and how the council could intervene.
He thanked Fambul Tok for the initiative, which he said is laudable.
Meanwhile, Toli Section has formed a committee with the responsibility to coordinate development programmes in the chiefdom.
Similar consultation was held in Konio Section, also in the Kissi Teng Chiefdom.