The Decentralization Service Delivery Program (DSDP) (Dec-Sec) on Tuesday 14th July 2015 orientated representatives of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) on the Grievance Redress Mechanism (GRM) at the Ocean View Hotel, Aberdeen in Freetown.The focal point for the GRM is the Monitoring and Evaluation Department at Dec-Sec, 9th Floor, Youyi Building in Freetown.
The World Bank is advocating for a standardized GRM for all other MDAs to plug in. Some of the types of grievances are non-availability of resources, incomplete and stalled projects, the none-involvement of stakeholders in project implementation, poor quality work/performance, attitude of staff, management and implementation of projects.
Others are land disputes, encroachment and those ranging from the environment to procurement.
Mr. Jonathan Kpakiwa, Capacity Building Manager, Decentralization Secretariat enlightened that the GRM would enhance transparency and accountability in the implementation of projects in addition to addressing the concerns of beneficiaries and project implementers.He also informed that this is one of the series of workshops to be organized, that the GRM is a pilot project for five Local Councils and that the workshop is to sensitize participants about their role in the process, the GRM structures, channels, types of grievances as not all complaints would be accepted and implored participants to make salient inputs into the process.
ColinaMacauley, Monitoring and Evaluation Manager, Dec-Sec, disclosed that the GRM would be implemented in the Ministries of Health and Sanitation, Education, Science and Technology, Water Resources, Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs and Waste Management.
She continued that the GRM would be implemented in three levels: Ward, Local Councils and National or Project adding that it is the responsibility of Local Councils to constitute the Committees, mobilize the people and inform them about the process adding that complex issues that cannot be addressed by GRM would be referred to the appropriate authorities like the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) and the Office of the Ombudsman but clarified that the GRM would not address corruption issues.
She furthered that the various levels of the GRM Committees would investigate and verify complaints within seven days, maintain confidentiality of complainants, submit monthly reports assuring that action would be taken to address complaints in a timely manner and that complaints would be inputted into a database.
ColinaMacauley also informed that Sierra Leone is a fragile state and recalled in the past when people did not have means to seek redress with Local Councils not having any formal system to address grievances and for services to reach the people.
SallayKakay, also of the Monitoring and Evaluation Department, Dec-Sec, articulated that the GRM is a credible process to address grievances, serves as an early warning system, builds trust within communities, receives timely feedbacks from beneficiaries and disclosed plans to position suggestion boxes nationwide for people to put their complaints in addition to email, text messages and phone calls.
According to SallayKakay, the GRM manual is user-friendly, that Chairmen and Mayors of Local Councils have been orientated on the process in Bo with plans to orientate other key stakeholders while communication materials have been developed. The GRM will commence this August lasting three months with the following Local Councils: Kono, Freetown, Kambia, Tonkolili and Bonthe to be later scaled-up in all Local Councils.
The criteria to select the five pilot districts is based on their geographical scope, size, performance, weakness, remoteness and Best Council as in the 2013 Performance of Councils, Tonkolili emerged first while Kono recorded rapid fall in performance.
Abdul Karim Kanu, Dandison Smith and Mbalu Kamara made presentations on the GRM Forms, Communication Materials and Branding of GRM as well as Expected Complaints to be Handled Under the System Outcomes respectively.
Discussions on communication materials, branding of GRM (logo and Local name) and the question and answer session climaxed the well-attended workshop.
The Decentralized Service Delivery Program (DSDP) has designed a Grievance Redress Mechanism (GRM) as part of its social accountability drive to promote meaningful participation of citizens in the decentralization process and to hold leadership of the Local Councils accountable, especially in the delivery of services to their localities.
The GRM is designed to channel grievances, questions, concerns, complaints etc. related to the DSDP 2 projects from citizens to project implementers. It will be institutionalized as a system and tool to identify, assess and provide resolutions to complaints concerning services delivered under DSDP 2.
Furthermore, the DSDP 2 GRM also aims at addressing concerns of beneficiaries and citizens at the early stages and with locally available tools in grievance resolution.
Already, some other World Bank-funded projects in Sierra Leone have introduced the GRM element to provide avenues for citizens and project stakeholders to air out their grievances, concerns, etc. These efforts led to the recent move by government to establish a national GRM framework which is coordinated by the Office of the Chief of Staff.
In April 2015, Dec-Sec held a validation session in respect of the DSDP 2 GRM with a cross-section of Chairpersons/Mayors, Chief Administrators, Development Planning Officers, Works Engineers and Resident Technical Facilitators from six City Councils. The objective was to provide an opportunity for the council stakeholders to make inputs into the draft framework before in was finalized.
As a follow-up measure, the day’s workshop was to familiarize MDA staff in the DSDP funded sectors to raise their awareness and understanding of the scope of the GRM venture. The DSDP funded sectors are Health, Education, Social Welfare and Water Resources.
The workshop was also to raise awareness and understanding of participants about the GRM and to sanction ownership of the design at central government level as participants received insight into the focus and key features of the GRM design and its operations.
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Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.