Daniel Owen, Task Team Leader of the World Bank administered Japanese Social Development Fund financed project in Sierra Leone, ‘GoBifo’, has recently, received the ‘development warrior’ title of Kugbei from Local Authorities of Bonthe District in Mattru.
“Our decision to confer the Kugbei title on Mr. Owen is to show him how deeply we appreciate the methodology he introduced for the ‘GoBifo’ project which is now yielding wonderful results on the ground”, said Bonthe District Chairman, Moses Probyn.
“The ‘GoBifo’ approach is the best the Wongifor Village has been exposed to”, said youth leader Boakei Elba during a field tour; noting that the project team gave his village “…a small money but with sufficient orientation, training and motivation”
The grant given, he explained, was used to set up an effective cassava processing machine.
“The cassava processing project”, in the proverbial words of Lucia Sannoh of the same village, “has succeeded in killing several birds for us with one tiny stone, as we are now processing cassava into foofoo, toh and garrie at a faster and cheaper rate for our consumption and for sale to other villages; we charge a processing fee for use of the machine itself in order to generate income for the new Wongifor Village Trust Fund on Emergencies; we have also gained new skills and experience in record keeping, bank transactions, participatory procurement, accounting and demanding accountability during the course of the project implementation and the project has served as a rallying point for mending fences between sworn enemies which has built trust in the village as a whole and has made it more easier now than before for us act collectively”. ’GoBifo’ empowered me a lot on how the community can go about addressing the challenges we face here on a daily basis”, said Theresa Banya, women’s leader of Sembehun Village.
“I now know: how to take the lead as a woman in applying for grants and how to leverage matching resources locally to get our projects implemented, what it takes to organize people for a common development goal, and how to engage local and central government as well as NGO’s who often come with resources meant for us but are some times secretive about the details” she said. According to ‘GoBifo’ Project Manager, Sullay Sesay, “villages that have so far benefited from the project have received an initial amount of about $1,700, with $3,016 to follow in tranche’, pending confirmation that the first payment was used appropriately and diligently.
The wards, on the other hand, who have benefiting so far from the project have received a higher amount – that is, the local currency equivalent of $6,803 in two equal tranche’ – since they cover larger areas of responsibilities”. ‘GoBifo’ is a 1.8 million dollar community-driven development trust fund project funded by the Japanese Government, administered by the World Bank and implemented by the Government of Sierra Leone.
The project was piloted in 2005 for an intended two and half year duration in 84 villages and 19 wards in Bombali District and in 40 villages and 8 wards in Bonthe District.
The project assists villages and wards to articulate a vision for their future and to put plans into action.