Rights-based Organization; Action Aid International has recently concluded a perception survey which revealed the inept Councilors in their localities throughout the Country.
The over all aim of the survey which scrutinizes the performance of past Local Councilors is to produce an evidence based people’s insight into the performance of Local Councils, bring out factors relating to quality delivery, the availability of political space to claim right and the levels of people’s participation in decision making at Local Council level.
The two main objectives of the survey were: to access the general performance of Councils in terms of service delivery and creating space for peoples participation to claim their rights and also to identify factors affecting the effective performance of local Councils.
Governance and Campaign Coordinator, Abdul Deen Sesay recently disclosed to Media Practitioners that the survey which was done in March to June this year is “an insight as to what people feel about the performance of Local Councils.”
“Our focus is based on people knowing and claiming their rights at various levels within the communities,” he stressed.
The Campaign Coordinator explained that there has been various studies looking at the decentralization process in Sierra Leone, which was supposed to bridge the gap between the people and the central government by the establishment of local structures in the various communities.
This study which is titled: ‘Decentralization and the Spaces of the Poor’ basically looked at the spaces within these Local Councils that they have for claiming their right, he explained.
“We are looking at the structures within the decentralization process to ensure that people are able to enjoy their rights within their communities, with specific reference to the vulnerable women, children, and disabled,” he stressed.
The Campaign Coordinator disclosed that the survey was conducted in seven (7) Districts out of the fourteen (14) Districts nationwide; adding that the reason for the selected sample districts was “to give us a balance sample in our studies.”
The key findings of the study, Deen-Sesay highlighted were that it revealed the participatory involvement of citizens in development plans which reflects people’s needs and priorities for development, from the various wards over time.
He disclosed that having discussions with constituents in these sample localities, it was revealed that only 30% of the respondent admitted to have any knowledge in the preparation of development plans.
Of these number, he continued “15% were not sure about there participation, whiles the bulk 55% attested not to have taken any part in such exercises,” he intimated.
“It was also revealed that the opportunity for poor and vulnerable to claim their rights did not manifest itself from discussion with the Councils,” averred Deen-Sesay
And also from the aspect of local council development financing based on District development plans, the study discovered that there was a mismatch between local priorities reflected in the District development plans and investment from central government in terms of financing and servicing devolved functions, he explained.
The Campaign Coordinator opined that the bases of lack of confidence in the Councils generally stem from the fact that to them there are no visible signs of development from Councilors.
On the issue of Local Councils provision of information to the public, the studies revealed that there is a serious communication gap between Councils and their Constituents; while, on the aspect of coordination of development effort in the District, interviews of the leadership of community based organizations, social groups and civil society groups working with Councils, revealed that Councils scored very low in coordinating development effort with there respective Districts; and the issue of accountability to citizens, a study of records by the Consultant revealed a comprehensive central government control of Local Council finances.
Notwithstanding this ineptitude of Local Councilors within their locality, the survey has proffered recommendations and the report would be launched today.