Sierra Leone Telegraph: 01 November 2020:
World Bank Country Manager in Sierra Leone – Gayle Martin, last Friday spoke at the government’s launching of its dialogue with civil society organisations as a drive to promote good governance, transparency, and accountability.
Addressing the assembled dignitaries, including the president, ministers, the international community, the press, and civil society organisations (CSOs), she said that for this government’s initiative “to be successful, it would be important that this structure and process are not politicized, that it is inclusive, transparent and allows honest exchange.”
She went on to say: “I am sure everyone can agree that development does not happen without engaging people. The economy doesn’t grow without engaging people. Reduced poverty doesn’t happen without people being at the center of such efforts.
“Improved prosperity, therefore, requires strong linkages between governments and communities. CSOs are a critical vehicle to accomplish these linkages. But development is also about sharing prosperity. Again, this is where CSOs are even more critical to ensure that that progress is shared and not the benefit just a few with voice and influence.
“The experience with COVID has amplified many challenges and but also highlighted underappreciated or underutilized opportunities. The ability of CSOs to reach communities was an example of an underutilized opportunity that was highlighted by COVID. CSOs were able to support the distribution of COVID-19 support packages, and also facilitated outreach and getting messages to households at greatest risk. This underscores the importance of why we are here today.
“Reduced poverty and shared prosperity are the twin goals of the World Bank Group, and the importance of citizen engagement has become more and more important in our operations, to ensure accountability of World Bank-financed projects, and CSOs can make an important contribution.
“For example, at the Annual Meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund with Ministers of Finance and Governors, CSOs from all regions always participate. On Tuesday (Oct27, 2020) the Bank’s two Vice Presidents for the Africa region had a virtual meeting with a large number of CSOs from the Africa region.
“Mr. President, I commend government for initiating this CSO coordination platform, and creating a government-CSO interface. For this to be successful, it would be important that this structure and process are not politicized, that it is inclusive, transparent and allows honest exchange.
“Such a platform could further support CSO’s role in partnership with the government, to monitor implementation, to improve accountability (including budget accountability), and to provide a voice for the voiceless. A key determinant of success of this initiative dependents on what happens after this launch, and what you discuss today is critical in shaping that the extent to which the objectives can be realized. I therefore wish you fruitful deliberations today.”
It remains to be seen how sincere and honest the government is in bringing together CSOs together to establish what the president says is a permanent structure to promote dialogue between the government and CSOs.