The budget tracking report is one of the outputs of the of the EU CSO LA Project, serving as an enabler to support State Institutions in promoting accountability at the Health, Agriculture, Education, Rural Water and Social Welfare Sectors under the Project titled “Building an Active Civil Society for Inclusive Gender Responsive Public Service Delivery for Women and Girls in Sierra Leone”.
Giving the keynote address, DR Yakama Manty Jones, Director of Research at the Ministry of Finance stated that the EU CSO LA Project was properly designed in such a way that it aligns with Government’s inclusive gender sensitive programmes to promote accountability. The Budget Tracking exercise she says monitors the flow of allocated incomes from the central line Ministry (MoF) for the 2020 fiscal year. This she said is to ensure that Public Resources do not experience leakages or misuse.
Commending the process, DR Yakama Manty Jones stated that “Projects like these support our work. Most of the components within this project especially on developing the Human Capital strongly aligns with the Governments development agenda”. She congratulated the entire consortium and the European Union. Doc. Jones concluded by saying that there is need for continuous engagement with an open and constant feedback even after the project might have ended.
Emphasizing on the actions to be taken going forward, the Policy and Advocacy Manager of ActionAid Sierra Leone, Madam Aminata Kelly Lamin encouraged CSOs, Public Authorities, Consortium Partners, budget networks and local councils to sustain all advocacy related activities such as rotational council meetings to communities, score card activities and the budget tracking exercise. This she said will give a face to the good work that was founded by the European Union to promote right and just spaces for poor, marginalised and the excluded people. “At national level we are hoping that through the consortium partners, we will be able to take this report to the Ministry of Finance with support from BAN to officially present to them, bringing the core issues to mind, finding alternatives to address these issues with strong policies, constant engagement and not allowing the lessons learnt does not die with the closure of the project”. She concluded.
The EU CSO LA Project is a € 1.2 mil @European Union in Sierra Leone funded project implemented by 3 consortium partners: ActionAid Sierra Leone (being the lead), Campaign of Good Governance (CGG) and @Centre for the Coordination of Youth Affairs in Sierra Leone (CCYA) in a 3-year timeframe which started in June 2018.
The main objective of this project was to build the technical and institutional capacities of 20 Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in 4 districts: Bombali, Kono, Bo and Western Area and in 80 communities in a bid to translate Government allocated funds into Public Basic Services in Rural communities in Sierra Leone focusing mainly on five sectors: Water, Education, Agriculture, Health, and Social Welfare.
Madam Abigial Stevens, Executive Director for CCYA had this to say “the capacity building for CSOs will provide an opportunity for the Youth components to acquire skills and get employed in diverse works of life. The 15th of July been celebrated all over as World Youth Skills day and the launch of the final budget tracking report serves as a beautiful coincidence to engender increased youth employment across the country”.
Key findings from the report launched included delays in the transfer of funds from the Ministry of Finance to the local councils which further led to the rollover of activities from one year to another, failure of some sectors to share information on incomes and expenditure which created doubt in the minds of ordinary citizens with respect to accountable delivery of services.
Prior to the project intervention, local council budget where not made public to local authorities and rural communities hence disabling them to ask critical questions in relations to the quantity and quality of public basic services.
Executive Director of ActionAid Sierra Leone Foday Bassie made a call to all CSOs and partners who benefitted from this project “CSOs and partners must treat as a special assignment advocacy work to improve the anomalies in these sectors going forward. In overall the strength of the project supported capacity building for CSOs through the provision of grants, increased participation of youths, women and people living with disability in budgetary processes hence creating a platform for accountable and equitable gender responsive public service delivery.
CGG represented by the Head of Programmes Sahr Kendema – stressed on the importance of accountability, as key to promoting good governance. Failure to be accountable to task payers is a recipe for chaos and misrule. “ActionAid and her partners are on the right track in promoting good governance”. Recalling the successes of the project Sahr Kendema stated that, the project has created the enabling environment to community people to hold duty bearers accountable, inclusivity by ensuring no one is left behind in all the communities where the projects were implemented. In closing, he stated that “Sustaining these successes is key and is therefore calling on partners, beneficiaries continue the advocacy, women’s priority issues are integrated into the development plans – only then will the needs of women and girls will be taken as a priority” in development plans”.