By: Alex A. Bah
The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) on Wednesday 15th December 2021, engaged stakeholders and beneficiaries of the Social Safety Net (SSN) project, in Semamamia Wara Wara Bafodia Koinadugu District, North East Sierra Leone. The meeting was held at Yagala Village and was meant to provide update to beneficiaries and community stakeholders on the status of the SSN project, with specific reference to the critical role of the Commission in ensuring integrity in the process through the Grievance Redress Mechanism (GRM) aspect, which the Commission superintends.
District Monitor Jonathan Massaquoi speaking at the engagement explained about the SSN/GRM program, which according to him is a poverty relief fund provided to alleviate sufferings of extremely poor and vulnerable people, who might have also been adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. He noted that the project has practically positively impacted quite a number of families that puts the money in good use. He furthered that, the monies provided are expected to be used judiciously by the people.
In his submission, Director, Public Education and External Outreach Department ACC, Patrick Sandi, admonished the participants that the SSN project monies are not loans, rather these are monies provided freely to empower extremely poor families. He stated that the women are the primary caretakers of families and it is what informed their large inclusion as direct beneficiaries.
Mr. Sandi furthered that the World Bank that provides the funds are interested in positive outcomes; monies reaching the beneficiaries and they putting them into good use to salvage their extreme hardship and sufferings. This according to him is the primary reason why the Commission is into the thick and thin of the project to maximize integrity so it can yield its desired objectives. “This program will not be endless. So while it exists, I advise that you put the monies into good use. So when it eventually ends, you would have graduated from your current status of extreme poverty”, he added.
Alex A. Bah, Communications Officer, ACC provided updates to the people on the work of the Commission. He encouraged them to be Ambassadors of integrity and support the Commission by making appropriate reports on instances of corruption through the Commission’s Toll Free Lines 515 or 077985985/077986986, or visit any of its offices in Freetown, Bo, Kenema, Makeni, Kono and Port Loko. He assured them of their protection but advised them to be responsible and not to make false and malicious reports aimed to vilify any person(s), as such acts are also punishable by law.
Prior, Blessing Kamara, a community youth leader whilst welcoming the ACC Team expressed his joy and profound appreciation to the Commission for reaching out to their community to meet with them. He noted that SSN project has been very helpful to them, and ascribed it to the active role of the commission in maximizing their interest.
Questions and answers session climaxed the program.