Sierra Leone Telegraph: 15 June 2021:
The World Bank has approved a $40 million grant from the International Development Association (IDA) in support of the Accountable Governance for Basic Service Delivery project in Sierra Leone.
According to the World Bank, the project will improve resource management, transparency and accountability of government systems to ensure the effective delivery of local development programs and basic services in the country.
“It aims to strengthen the ability of local councils to carry out service-delivery mandates in key sectors such as health and education,” the World Bank statement reads.
“The project is aligned with the World Bank Group COVID-19 Crisis Response Framework. It is also fully aligned with the Country Partnership Framework for Sierra Leone, which emphasizes accountable governance in the use of public finances and the delivery of quality and inclusive education and health services. It will build on the existing World Bank support to public financial management reforms and other accountability systems at the central and local levels.”
Commenting on this new funding, Gayle Martin, World Bank Country Manager for Sierra Leone said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of better governance for improved service delivery, and this project provides a systematic approach for the Government of Sierra Leone to incentivize improvements in governance for basic service delivery across multiple levels of government.
“The project will strengthen accountability relationships between citizens and local government to ensure that increased resources are used for qualitative priority local development programs.”
The World Bank statement published last week, says that “Local councils have a significant role to play in delivering basic services. Since 2004, the reinvigorated councils have progressively taken on numerous formal, legal, and administrative functions regarding the management of basic services.
“Currently, the administrative framework governing the delivery of basic services is characterized by a complex multi-level governance structure at central, local, and sectoral levels. This provides a challenge for the efficient use of resources, which is now urgently required in a reduced fiscal space due to the impact of COVID-19”.
Also commenting on the funding, Shomikho Raha, World Bank Task Team Leader said: “This project is an innovative approach to address governance constraints by establishing a clear link between improved governance performance and service delivery results. These are the kinds of building blocks that can support local development and help to make sure that government investments in basic services, like health and education, deliver positive dividends for communities. In the process, the project will additionally support the Government’s focus on governance and accountability for results in its National Development Plan (NDP) and beyond, over a six-year timeframe.”
The World Bank says it believes the project will directly support maximizing the impact of investments in service delivery through improving the efficiency of public expenditures in a sustainable manner through improved resource management, transparency and accountability; and places special emphasis and incentivizes increased participation and voice of women in local development, targeting at least 40 percent women participation in the planning, design, and implementation of development programs at the local level.
Last week, the head of the United Nations Development Programme in Sierra Leone, expressed serious concern about the lack of implementation by the government of Sierra Leone after receiving tens of millions of dollars funding support.
“Implementation capacity and poor planning are and have always been the main barriers to development in Sierra Leone – alongside corruption. There is a bad culture of politicians sacking experienced public sector staff for political reasons, once a new government comes to power. This has to stop. You cannot keep sacking people that have gained invaluable knowledge, skill and experience of public service delivery once every five or ten years. Human resource is costly and hard to develop. Let us preserve it, development is about continuity,” says the editor of the Sierra Leone Telegraph, Mr Abdul Rashid Thomas.
This is the head of UNDP in Sierra Leone speaking on Radio 98.1 FM last weekend: