Sierra Leone Telegraph: 21 December 2011:
Since the enactment of the 2004 Local Government Act, which devolves power to Local Councils in Sierra Leone, for the delivery of basic services such as education, health, water supply and solid waste management, successive governments in Freetown have failed woefully to provide the human as well as financial resources needed for decentralisation to succeed.
With rising poverty and continuing pressure on government’s finances and priorities, the delivery of local services has faced huge setbacks.
Education standards have fallen in the last three years; the government’s free health care programme faces huge challenges in the provincial towns and cities; and most communities are without clean, safe drinking water.
President Koroma’s government priority focuses largely on improving the country’s dilapidated infrastructure, costing hundreds of millions of dollars.
The Executive Board of the World Bank yesterday approved US$26 million to help the Government of Sierra Leone scale up its decentralized delivery of basic services, across 19 Local Councils in the country.
Major steps have already been taken to improve the decentralization programme, including; establishing a transparent, fair system of transferring funds to Local Councils; holding of regular elections; devolving functions closer to the people; and innovative ways of helping them hold service providers accountable.
“Sierra Leone has come a long way since the enactment of the Local Government Act in 2004, and has a wealth of experience to offer other post-conflict countries,” said World Bank Country Manager Vijay Pillai.
“With continued political will and due diligence by Local Councils, we expect that decentralized delivery of basic services will lead to further gains such as improved access to basic health services and safe drinking water in rural areas.”
This new funding of $26 Million is part of the Second Phase Decentralized Service Delivery Program (DSDP-2), which aims to build on what has already been achieved under the DSDP phase 1.
It will enable Local Councils to improve the delivery and results in basic health, education, water supply and solid waste management across all 19 Local Councils in the country.
The European Union will provide a further US$6 million in co-financing, bringing the total funding for DSDP-2 to $32 million. The program’s second phase will run until December 2015 and will provide direct financing of the following activities:
– US$24.3 million funding for local councils to complement fiscal transfers from GoSL budgetary processes
– US$3 million to develop capacity and provide technical assistance to local councils and ministries, departments and agencies, which will help carry out their core functions and provide guidance and oversight
– US$4.1 million to support results and social accountability. This will empower local communities to hold their service providers accountable, with the aim of enhancing the quality of service delivery
– US$1.2 million to support project implementation, financial management and coordination functions.
The Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, Ministry of Local Government & Rural Development and all 19 Local Councils will implement the program, by working in partnership.