A three-day training workshop has taken place at the Kenema District Council Hall along Maxwell Khobe Street in Kenema city.
The training targets Kenema city and Kenema District Council and is part of the UNDP/UNCDF funded Kenema District Economic Recovery Programme.
Giving an overview of the workshop Pious Bockarie explained that the Kenema District Economic Recovery Programme (KDERP) is a five-year pilot community development programme designed to stimulate local economic development in Kenema District and to develop the capacity of both the City and District Councils to provide services and infrastructure to local communities.
The Project, funded by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), aims to compliment what the Government is doing to reduce poverty and consolidate the peace in the district.
The project aims to develop approaches to local economic development of the District to increase agricultural activities, market information and women enterprise development, and enhance local revenue collection in Kenema City and District.
To develop the planning and budgeting capacity of the City and District Councils he said the provisions of the local Government Act 2004 to prepare and review their development plans annually, with detailed budgets mandate and the objectives of the Local councils.
The goal of the training is to introduce both councils to output-based planning and budgeting, and look at their existing capacity.
The training is designed to yield accountable, measurable and community based targeted infrastructure and service provision.
The training focused on Development Planning, Performance Budgeting and Capacity Assessment of the councils.
In her welcome address Deputy Mayor Kenema District Council Margaret Adama Shiaka welcomed the Minister of Internal Affairs, Local Government and entourage as well as the UNDP country Director and team. She commended the USCDF for their development and strides in Kenema District and the City as well.
Mentioning the construction of a market at Ngegbema in the Tunkia chiefdom and the rehabilitation of culvert in the city. The UNDP Country Director Bernard Mokan told the participants that they were working with the National Electoral Commission to ensure that the Local Council Elections take place as stipulated.
Mr. Mokan Further stated that the UNDP would show their strong determination to support the process to ensure that the new councilors after July 5 benefit from such trainings.
He pointed out that the Millennium Development Goal targets improving health, education, agriculture and above all the people’s lives.
The UNDP Country Director promised that they would work with Government in the next months for development pointing out that the UNCDF project is a pilot project in the Kenema district.
In his keynote address and officially declaring the training workshop open the Hon. Minister of Internal Affairs, Local Government and Rural Development, Ambassador Dauda S. Kamara thanked the two councils for extending the invitation to him.
He said Local government is a new idea to manage our own affairs and called on all to work hard for the success of the councils.
He also thanked the UNDP/UNCDR for their continued financial and Technical support to the Decentralization process. In line with the partnership role, UNDP has always played a pivotal role in giving policy advice to the Government and mobilizing fund support to respond to critical development issues identified by the Government.
The UNDP/UNCDF support to the Kenema District Economic Recovery Programme to foster local economic development in the District and to build the capacity of Local Councils is a clear manifestation of such assistance currently enjoyed by the two local councils and the people of Kenema district. For this he said they are very much grateful and hope to continue to enjoy the collaboration of our development partners to enhance effective and sustainable development in Sierra Leone.
The Ambassador described the workshop as timely and appropriate because it is in fulfillment of the performance Management Contract recently signed between the Presidents of the Republic of Sierra Leone, His Excellency Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma and himself the Minister of Internal Affairs, Local Government and Rural Development among other ministers, for the period 15th February 2008 to 14th January 2009.
The Minister further said Development Planning is an important element of the development cycle, as it provides opportunities for all individuals and community groups, especially women to be included in the diverse development process for better social well being.
Hence he said Local Councils key role in contributing to the well being of local communities particularly in the Kenema District means that they are well placed to support development partners and to encourage inclusive participation in a well-defined fashion.
Local Councils must therefore see planning as a technical dialogue and process between all stakeholders, Community, inter-sectoral and inter-disciplinary collaboration should be integral parts of the process and it must involve continuous monitoring and evaluation of the implementation to provide feedback to Central Government, Development Partners and the Target Beneficiaries.
He concluded by assuring all participants that the political will to promote Decentralization and provide support to local government programmes is on course and he hoped the local councils, Civil Society groups and particularly Women’s groups will take advantage of the process.
The opening ceremony was chaired by the Provincial Secretary East Alhaji Salia Magona. Facilitating the workshop were KERDP- Pious Bockarie, UNCDF NY-Ronald McGill, Joseph Kamara and Juana Bhonopha.