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Reflection on the Localization Program in Sierra Leone

Reflection on the Localization Program in Sierra Leone

Reflection on the Localization Program in Sierra Leone

April 18, 2016 by Shabnam Moallem

In the conference room overlooking Freetown, fifty or so Sierra Leoneans from the Northern region and Western area gathered from April 13th to 15th, 2016 to learn about and discuss the implementation of the Sierra Leone National Action Plan on UNSCR 1325 and 1820 (SiLNAP). Although the Ebola outbreak put many efforts in the country on hold, the three-day workshops organized by GNWP and its Sierra Leonean members of National Organization of Women-Sierra Leone (NOW-SL), Women’s Forum, and Mano River Women’s Peace Network (MARWOPNET) mark the continuation of the implementation efforts surrounding the women, peace and security agenda in the country.

In 2012, GNWP and NOW-SL rolled out the Guidelines for the Alignment/Harmonization of SiLNAP on UNSCRs 1325 and 1820 with the Local Development Planning Process in Local Councils in the Eastern and Southern regions of the country. To continue this work, the first two days of the workshops brought the local councilors and prominent civil society representatives from the eight councils of the Northern region and Western area to Freetown. Culminating with the establishment of Regional Steering Committees, this workshop ensured that local councils would use the Guidelines to further implementation of SiLNAP at the local level.

The opening ceremony of the workshop included statements by the newly appointed Minister of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs (MSWGCA), Dr. Sylvia Olayinka Blyden, the Deputy Minister from the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD), Mr. Ibrahim H. Kalokoh and the Mayor of Freetown City Council, Bode Franklyn Gibson. Their contributions as well as the remarks of Alhassan Kanu, Director of the Decentralization Secretariat, revealed the many ways in which the program engages with the central government and incorporates all the relevant Ministries, not just constraining the issues to that of gender. Not only did all the speakers pledge their support and dedication to the implementation of SiLNAP, but their presence reflects how civil society has worked closely with the government to ensure that there is buy-in and political will behind the initiatives proposed. Ms. Mary Okumu, head of UN Women in Sierra Leone, also spoke, bringing an international perspective to the accomplishments and challenges Sierra Leone faces in this work.

After discussing UNSCR 1325 and 1820, SiLNAP, Sierra Leone’s Agenda for Prosperity, and the Local Government Act, Mr. Amara Sowa, Regional Technical Facilitator of the Decentralization Secretariat of MLGRD explained how the Guidelines bring all these mandates of the local councils together and allow them to implement the goals of SiLNAP through their Local District Council Development Plans. Participants worked together to come up with concrete steps through which they could use the Guidelines and pursue implementation of SiLNAP in their districts.

The current SiLNAP officially expired in December of 2015 meaning it is also time for Sierra Leone to consider how it will approach creating the second generation of the National Action Plan. In light of this timing, the second workshop took the program a step further and analyzed the work that has been done to localize these UN resolutions in Sierra Leone and what challenges remain. This National Monitoring Workshop recognized the need to assess the program and its effects. One of the many successes of the Guidelines was to have indicators related to SiLNAP be included into the Comprehensive Local Government Performance System (CLOGPAS) conducted by the Decentralization Secretariat of MLGRD. Furthermore, the Statehouse also agreed to include such indicators in their own performance contract system. Deputy Planning Officers (DPOs) and Monitoring and Evaluation Officers from eight local district councils worked in groups to assess the current gender module that is used in the CLOGPAS to come up with additional indicators and means of verification (MOV), which at the end of the workshop were compiled and presented to the Gender Specialist of the Decentralization Secretariat, Ms. Margaret Kaitibi.

The workshops provided a space of fruitful discussion and collaboration for the local officials and civil society actors in Sierra Leone. The strong will of Sierra Leone’s people to improve conditions for women in society and end sexual and gender based violence promises to overcome the many challenges the country faces as it recovers from the trauma and damage brought on by Ebola. Key to these efforts are the collaboration between civil society, local government, national government, and international organizations that are evident in these workshops and ensure that the issues are not forgotten, especially in times of crisis.

 

The Localization of UNSCR 1325 and 1820 program in Colombia, Liberia and Sierra Leone is made possible with the support of the Folke Bernadotte Academy of Sweden.

For further media from the workshop, please visit GNWP’s TwitterInstagramFacebook and Flickr accounts.