A two days training for fifteen victorious female councilors – five from the ruling All Peoples Congress (APC) from Kono district, three from Kailahun district and seven from Kenema district from the opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) in the Eastern Region with the theme: ‘’Salone don win wit umandem’’organised by the National Democratic Institute (NDI) for International Affairs and with support from USAID has ended at the Holy Trinity Parish Hall along Blama road in Kenema.
Giving an overview of the Local Government the Country Director of NDI Mrs. Honorine Muyoyeto said the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI) is a non-profit organization working to strengthen and expand democracy worldwide.
NDI she said provides practical assistance to civic and political leaders advancing democratic values, practices and institutions. NDI works with democrats in every region of the world to build political and civic organizations, safeguard elections, and to promote citizen participation, openness and accountability in government.
Since 2001, she said NDI has worked with civil society organizations, members of parliament (MPs), Political parties, the security sector, and other actors to strengthen civic participation and political institutions in post – conflict Sierra Leone.
NDI’s Programming in Sierra Leone is supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the British Department for International Development (DFID).
Giving the objective of the project the Programme Officer NDI Mohamed Konneh said it is to impart knowledge and skills that will assist the female councilors to effectively assume their roles and responsibilities in the councils.
Explaining about what is local government? He said “local government is for everyone. Local government is a way for communities to take more direct control over local issues and decision-making to improve health facilities, schools, agricultural production, roads, and have a drinking water. Local councils have a responsibility to work with citizens to make choices about community needs and the best use of resources. Local government is responsible to EVERYONE, including young people, old people, women, men, persons with disabilities, those who are literate, and those who are illiterate.”
Honourable Hannah Tetteh of Ghana, Honourable Saudatu Sani of Nigeria and Honourable Grace Mweva of Kenya were part of the resource persons who shared their experiences as African women Members of Parliament or females in leadership positions in their respective countries.
Honourable Hannah Tetteh from Ghana explained about how the local councils undertake development drives saying “your local council should work with community members to identify the needs of your community. These needs should be prioritized. What is the most important need? What is the second most important need?” she asked, adding “Then, your local council should work with community members to identify what assets your community has. The local council can then make a plan of how to use existing assets and community resources to address the needs.”
Honourable Saudatu Sani from Nigeria spoke about volunteerism in community development projects; she said Community members could volunteer to participate in local development projects, helping to make things better for everyone. She called on her colleagues to encourage their people to pay taxes, making them to know that when they pay their local tax, market dues, shop licenses, and water and house rates, your local council can provide better services to you and your community. Other facilitators at the workshop included Amara Sowa, Mrs. Martha Chigozie, Mrs. Alice Koroma and Unisa Mansaray.
In his closing remarks Amara Sowa said this workshop is a follow up workshop of the series of workshops held before and during the local council election within the country all with the aim of increasing women participation in politics.
At the end of the workshop the election of executive members of the Eastern Region Association of Female Councilors was conducted and Memunatu Kemokai of the Kenema District Council (SLPP) became the Chairperson.
The position of the Secretary went to Esther Kaisamba of the Kenema City Council (SLPP,). Theresa Genda of the Sembehun city council Kono (APC) became the Treasurer.
The position of the Organizing Secretary and the Public Relations Officer (PRO) went to Victoria Gbow of the Kailahun District council of SLPP and Mary Sonsiama of the Kono District Council APC.