November 24, 2016
Photo: With UNDP support communities take centre stage in local governance development © Alpha Sesay/ UNDP Sierra Leone \
Two of Sierra Leone’s Ebola hardest hit districts have benefitted from a new US$1.5 million project to help improve their livelihood and basic services in rural communities on 18th November, 2016.
The initiative, launched by Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Maya Kaikai, is part of the government’s post Ebola recovery strategy aimed at giving power to local communities to be at the helm of decision-making process on development and basic services delivery.
The border community-led development and governance project will empower particularly women to sit side-by-side with local authorities, using healthcare as entry point to identify and prioritise health related issues affecting their communities.
The initiative seeks to strengthen community capacities and participation in local development planning processes in the major border districts of Kambia and Kailahun.
The project will also rehabilitate 95 social amenity structures, including drinking water and sanitation facilities, schools and primary healthcare units (PHUs) prioritised by the beneficiary communities.
Additionally, the community members will be empowered to lead planning and implementation of the rehabilitation of identified social amenity structures. This will provide employment to members of beneficiary communities and boost their livelihood.
Sierra Leone’s Local Government and Rural Development Minister, Maya Kaikai, told beneficiaries of the project that the intervention would go a long way to improving basic service delivery in the two border districts with Guinea in the north and Liberia in the east.
“The lack of basic but essential services is negatively impacting the health and wellbeing of his[sic] people,” said Foday Conteh, chief of the Village Development Committee for Samu Chiefdom in Kambia District.
Samu Chiefdom, with 64,572 inhabitants, has one basic healthcare centre. It is not uncommon for patients to travel very long distance on dusty and bumpy roads to access health facilities.
With an ill-equipped hospital and poorly motivated staff, the community members think issues related to health are not their business except when they are ill or their family members are sick.
In Kambia, the project will cover three chiefdoms – Samu, Magbema and Gbinle-Dixon – all predominately farming, cross-border trading and fishing communities, while in Kailahun District four chiefdoms – Luawa, Kissy Teng, Jawei and Peje – which are agriculture and small-scale mining dominated chiefdoms were selected.
“The UNDP intervention in these three chiefdoms means that 60 percent of the Kambia people will be covered and we would have a healthy population,” said PC Alimany Lahai.
UNDP Inclusive Growth Cluster lead, Ghulam Sherani, noted that the agency’s invaluable partnership with the government and people of Sierra Leone spans four decades.
“Involving communities in development planning and decision making process is an excellent opportunity to solve socio-economic challenges at community levels,” Mr. Sherani said.
The launch of the new project titled ‘Access to Health Care and Community Led Development’, with funding from the Government of Japan, is implemented by UNDP in partnership with the Local Government and Rural Development Ministry.