Delivering the keynote address yesterday (30 August 2016) at Sierra Leone’s first national conference on community engagement, President Ernest Bai Koroma emphasised the importance of community participation in the development process and said that that lessons learned had shaped the second phase (10 to 24 months) of the Recovery Priorities.
Community Engagement and Convergence, jointly organised by the Office of the Chief of Staff and UNICEF, is Sierra Leone’s first national conference on community engagement. It aims to build on the lessons of real community engagement and ownership learned during the Ebola crisis and develop approaches to sustained community engagement to support the recovery process and beyond.
In his speech, The President said: “We must not lose sight of the reasons why we are gathered here. It is very important to make sure we recover from the economic challenges we are facing now. All the seven priority sectors within the recovery process are challenging and the implementation and monitoring of them is very important. This is why you, the communities must work together to make sure we all succeed and leave no on behind. The bottom-top approach was very successful in winning the Ebola fight and we must continue to use that approach throughout the recovery process.”
President Koroma also called on all the Paramount Chiefs, Councils and Chairmen to take ownership of the recovery process, and work with the partners to ensure successful implementation of priority initiatives.
Developing a genuine community participation and ownership approach continues to be core to the planning, implementation and evaluation of the President’s Recovery Priorities. Regional consultations, a commitment to transparency and accountability and most recently, the appointment of a Community Engagement Officer (CEO) within every district have been widely welcomed by local government representatives.