The Decentralisation Secretariat (Dec-Sec) of Decenetralised Service Delivery Programme, Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, has designed a Grievance Redress Mechanism (GRM) as part of its social accountability drive to promote meaningful participation of citizens in the Decentralisation 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 DSDP2 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 DSDP2. The DSDP2 GRM also aims at addressing concerns of beneficiaries and citizens at early stages and with locally available tools in grievance resolution.
|IEC Officer, Dandeson Smith (holding mic), interprets a poster showing the GRM structure at the workshop for staff of DSDP funded sectors
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 Bo, in respect of the DSDP2 GRM with a cross section of chairpersons/Mayors,ChiefAdministrators, Development Planning Officers, Works Engineers and Resident Technical facilitators from the six City Councils in the country. The objective was to provide an opportunity for council stakeholders to make inputs into the draft framework before it was finalized. However the councils chosen to pilot the GRM design are: Freetown City Council, Tonkolili District Council, Kambia District, Bonthe Municipal Council and Kono District Council. These Councils were selected based on the following criteria: Freetown City Council was chosen based on its complexity and volume of work; Tonkolili and Kambia District Councils were chosen based on their impressive performance as indicated in the 2013 CLoGPAS results; Bonthe Municipal Council merited consideration for the fact that it stands at the opposite polarity with Freetown City council, and Kono District Council was brought in as a way of triggering a revitalization of its activities following its dramatic fall in terms of CLoGPAS results from first position several years back to a very low position at the 2013 CLoGPAS. And it was ensured that each region of the country had at least one representative council in the pilot.
|Dec-Sec M&E; Manager addressing the workshop for staff of devolved sectors
On the 5th of June, a one-day orientation on the GRM was conducted in Bo for Mayors/Chairpersons, CAs and various functional Heads of DSDP2 funded sectors of Health, Education, Social Welfare and Rural Water for the five pilot Councils
As a follow-up measure, on Tuesday 14th July, a one-day workshop was held to orientate MDA staff in the DSDP funded sectors to raise their awareness and understanding of the scope of the GRM venture.
The workshop was also meant to sanction ownership of the GRM design at the central government level. Participants from the DSDP funded sectors were given a thorough insight into the focus and key features of the GRM design and its operations.
Staff of the M&E Unit of Dec-Sec explained the rationale embodied in the Grievance Redress mechanism for DSDP2, and also explained the roles and responsibilities of key functionaries and committees in the GRM system.
The GRM for DSDP will be operated at three levels as follows: Ward/Community; Local Council and National level. And there will be GRM Committees at all three levels.
Grievance Handling Process
1. Receipt and Acknowledgement of Complaints
Complaints received through various uptake channels such as letters, will be entered in an excel database at the Local council and national levels, or as hard copy such as letters, entered in report forms, media articles or transcripts of conversation signed by the complainant or in a complaints register. Complaints received at the Local Council and Dec-Sec level will be assigned a reference/serial number by the GRM Officer. An acknowledgement in writing will be sent to the complainant by the Officer responsible within two days of receipt of the complaint. The Ward Secretaries and GRM Officer of the Committee at the District and national levels will be the primary point of contact for receiving complaints and assigning them to the responsible committees.
• The Ward Grievance Redress Committee, (level1), The District Complaints Review Committee, (level 2) and the National Grievance Redress Committee, (level 3) are the primary channels through which complaints, grievances or problems from the project beneficiary communities are lodged. Complaints which are outside the DSDP 2 GRM system, e.g. corruption related cases and unlawful dismissal will be channeled to the relevant Institutions such as the ACC, Office of the Ombudsman, etc.
2. Sorting and processing
• Upon receipt of the complaint, it will be categorized, logged into the MS Excell database or complaint form or complaints register,prioritized and then assigned to the committee responsible (depending on the nature of the complaint).
• If the Committee is not able to resolve/address the complaint due to its magnitude or sensitivity, it may escalate the complaint to a higher level e.g. from the Ward Committee to the District Complaints Review Committee, the National Grievance Redress Mechanism Committee and the Anti-Corruption Commission, in case of cases bordering on corruption.
3. Verification of a Complaint
• The Committee handling the complaint will be required to gather adequate information to authenticate or verify the complaint raised.
• Once the verification process is concluded and the complaint raised is found to be genuine or factually correct, then action will be taken by the Committee responsible and feedback provided to the complainant.
• The complainant will be informed about the verification of the complaint, and subsequent action taken, either electronically or in hard copy by the Secretary of the Ward Committee or GRM Officer responsible for handling the complaint raised. Dec-Sec will endeavour to provide feedback within 30 days after acknowledgement of the complaint.
• Complex complaints may take more time. Examples of complex complaints are staff behavioral issues including sexual harassment fraud and corruption cases in the project. The complainant will be undated fortnightly about the progress of the complaint until it is referred to the appropriate authorities.
• In case the complainant feels that the complaint lodged has not been satisfactorily resolved, he/she can appeal in writing to the higher level committee through the NGRC to the ACC in the case of corruption or fraud clearly stating the reasons for his/her dissatisfaction with the feedback provided.
RESOLUTION AND REPORTING OF COMPLAINT
Complaints classified in the system as corruption will be handled by the ACC. However, complaints received and classified in the system as “Administrative” will be dealt with primarily by WGRC, CRC and NGRC at the community, District and national levels with the support of the GRM officer within Dec-Sec..
A Grievance Redress Officer will be appointed by Dec-Sec to handle all administrative grievances related to the project.
The Ward Grievance Redress Committee.
This will be the primary channel for community members to get their grievances addressed. Questions, concerns, complaints and grievances that can be answered, addressed or resolved by the Committee. The committee will consist of the Councillor, Ward Secretary who will be the Committee’s secretary or Ward GRM Officer, a local authority and women’s, leader, CSO and a youth who is responsible and influential. The Councilor will chair the Committee while the Ward secretary will take responsibility for recording and informing complainants on progress in resolving their complaints. This Committee has several roles
District/Local Council Complaints Review Committee
The members of the CRC will include the Deputy Chief Administrator, Environmental Officer, HRO, the Local Council M&E Officer and representatives from the press, CSO and religious bodies the Local council M&E Officer and ACC District Officer. The Deputy Chief Administrator will chair the meeting while the M&E Officer will serve as secretary. This Committee also has several roles and responsibilities.
The National Grievance Redress Committee
This Committee consists of the M&E Manager, the Capacity Building manager, the GRM Officer, a CSO representative and also one representative each from the media, IPAU, LGFD and the religious bodies.
The Committee will be chaired by the M&E Manager and the GRM Officer will act as secretary.
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Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.