How can government and funders support community healing and people-led planning and development? That was our focus at planning meetings at Ulster University in Belfast in mid-November. Senior government leaders from Sierra Leone gathered to focus on the planning and rollout of the flagship Wan Fambul National Framework for Local Governance and Rural Development, along with partner organizations (I was there representing Catalyst for Peace and John Caulker from our Sierra Leonean partner and Framework Secretariat Fambul Tok), and international technical experts (Angi Yoder-Maina, of Green String Network and INCORE’s Brandon Hamber, who provided gracious and spacious hosting).
The Sierra Leone government delegation included Hon. Anthony Y Brewah (Minister of Local Government and Rural Development); Hon. Francess Piagie Alghali (Minister of State in the Vice President’s Office); Hon. Dr. Robert Tamba Michael Chakanda (Deputy Minister of Planning and Economic Development); and two senior technical experts — Dr. Sheka Bangura in the Ministry of Planning and Economic Development and Daniel Ernest Kaindaneh in the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development.
Having the time and space outside of the country can be critical to having the in-depth conversations needed to work through complex issues or difficult questions, and the time in Belfast offered just such an opportunity. The Draft Framework builds on the learning from the process we developed and tested with Fambul Tok in 3 districts over 3+ years, so that it incorporates the collective voices and wisdom of the village, chiefdom, and district leaders who have lived it. First drafted in 2017 in partnership with the Ministry of Local Government, that government partnership has now expanded to the Ministry of Planning and Economic Development, with the leadership of the Vice President’s Office. This 2 ½ day retreat supported in depth input from these key offices and ministries, to make sure the concepts, language and proposed rollout fully reflect their goals and objectives.
The Wan Fambul National Framework has been captured in the advanced draft of the National Development Plan 2019-2023 as a priority and a flagship program for the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD). The Ministry views the WFNF as an implementation mechanism for the upcoming Rural Development Policy which the Ministry hopes to have approved by the Cabinet in early 2019. Additionally, the Ministry of Planning and Economic Development (MoPED) views the WFNF as a concrete government mechanism to develop national capacity to engage village, sections, chiefdoms and the districts in future National Development Plans.
In Belfast, the government leaders confirmed a funding strategy and an implementation arrangement to move forward with program implementation, with a 5-year envisioned timeframe beginning in early 2019.