Sierra Leone Telegraph: 9 June 2022:
Sierra Leone’s Minister of Planning and Economic Development, Dr. Francis Kai-Kai yesterday received a report from the Centre for Accountability and the Rule of Law (CARL) and the Institute of Governance Reform (IGR) titled: “Mitigating the impact of COVID-19 Responses on Governance and Accountability Processes in Sierra Leone”.
The report which was commissioned with the support of Irish Aid in Sierra Leone, presents an assessment of the impact of the Development Cooperation Framework (DCF) on NGOs and CSOs after two years of implementation by the Government of Sierra Leone through the Ministry of Planning and Economic (MoPED). It also discusses the implication of retaining the policy for NGOs/CSOs working in Sierra Leone.
Irish Ambassador to Sierra Leone, Claire Buckley thanked the Ministry for their show of commitment to partnership working, which according to her, was evident in setting up the DCF Committee which is comprised of key NGO and national partners, to review the DCF/NGO regulations after two years of implementation.
She said that strengthening civil society capacity and space is an important policy for Ireland, adding that civil societies have a critical role in promoting inclusive and accountable democratic institutions and processes.
Minister Kai-Kai thanked the Irish Ambassador for her support for the DCF review process. “This particular document is spot on and I am sure it will inform the current review process conducted by the DCF Committee. The Irish Embassy are one of our key partners that cover very significant areas in our development trajectory”, said Dr. Kai-Kai.
He said as a Ministry, they will continue to create the enabling environment for NGOs and CSOs to organise and engage with government.
As you may be aware, the Ministry had set up a committee that comprises NGOs, CSOs, and other partners to review the current Development Cooperation Framework— the regulatory policy guidelines for non-governmental organization in the country.
In another development, Minister Kai-Kai spoke this morning on African Young Voices Television (AYV, ‘Wake Up Sierra Leone) about the recently announced provisional results of the 2021 Mid-Term Population and Housing Census (MTPHC).
Speaking to Journalists Amadu Lamarana Bah and Phebean Swill, the Minister confirmed his satisfaction with the overall outcome of the results, and the professionalism and leadership demonstrated by Statistics Sierra Leone throughout the process.
Minister Kai-Kai said that the government is listening to the ongoing debate about the Census, adding that they are fully committed to addressing the issues raised, starting with a full conduct of a technical audit as well as a post-enumeration period.
He expressed appreciation for the World Bank’s support for the 2021 census and other partners who invested technical and material support to the entire process, stating that even though the World Bank pulled out at some stage due to technical misunderstanding, Statistics Sierra Leone were fully committed to address the technical issues and requirements raised and to continue with the Census.
“The biggest lesson the Government of Sierra Leone learnt from the exercise is that there are certain critical development processes which you cannot totally depend on others for… with the issue of the World Bank, what people see is just the pull out, but what they don’t see is the process. We are always going to be very strong partners with the World Bank, but going forward with development work you can always agree to disagree”, said Minister Kai-Kai.
He noted that Statistics Sierra Leone is setting up mechanisms for post census activities that would showcase more demographic analysis on the census information.
Minister Kai-Kai further stated that other countries that are preparing to conduct digital census are also seeking technical assistance from Sierra Leone, citing Nigeria as an example.
“We should give credit to the leadership of Statistics Sierra Leone for their professionalism. Right now Nigeria is trying to do a digital census and they are actually consulting the leadership of Statistics Sierra Leone for technical support… while other countries are trying to consult Sierra Leone on a digital census, we are busy doing other negative things within”, he said.
Dr. Kai-Kai said the 2021 Census has provided locality data which are now available in the statistical system. He said places such as Falaba and Karene districts never had data, but the census has now even provided geo-codes for each village in Sierra Leone which is identified through a satellite imagery that is provided by the World Bank.
He said that the Census has provided the essential data pertaining to demographic, social and economic characteristics of the population and housing which will be used for planning at every level.
The Minister also said there is need for wider education on the census for the people of Sierra Leone, adding that more academicians are needed to throw light on the census information so that people can understand the dynamics of the census information.
This report is a clear manifestation what we as a nation need to do to strengthen our civil societies that plays such a critical role in helping defend the collective interests of our societies and those that helped shape the decision making process in our lives .The Bio government have work tirelessly to undermined our civil societies groups in our country,so this report is a stark reminder we are still a long way before we see any meaningful changes in the workings of our civil society organisations. Bio could do well and pay attention to the suggestions made in this report and implement them to the full , so the respect for the rule of law and rights of individuals or groups are fully respected within the frame work of a civilze society or a in a young democracy like ours that are still trying to find it’s feet in a world where reactionary and anti -democratic forces are rearing their ugly heads again .Civil society groups have always acted as a go between the government and the governed .
The role of civil society organisations is “defending the collective interest, and increasing accountability,providing solidarity mechanism and promoting participation:influencing decision making , directly engage in service delivery and challenging governments ” As the Irish ambassador Claire Buckley reminded us strengthening civil society have helped the Republic of Ireland. She noted with out hint of irony that inclusiveness and strengthening civil society have helped her country. She might as well being straight with Dr Francis and say she noted with regret that the Bio government have excluded civil societies or in some cases elected members of Parliament in his decision making process.There by undermining our democratic dispensation.
Effectively Bio have hoard too much powers for the presidency there is no room left for sharing.For all the sweet talk from.Dr Francis about working and educating the population about the necessary changes needed to inform , and educate people how vital for us to understands the mechanism of how civil societies and government can work together to create an open and accountable , transparent system of government, to me it sounds like Dr Francis is trying to wrestle the narrative again after the recent census fiasco.Yes gathering census data at the best of time is challenging for any government , but organising it in the middle of a once in a generation pandemic is not only an ill thought idea but as the dispute preliminary census results have shown is a no brainer. Surely there is a third way of doing things .