Helping leaders to deliver their agenda is central to AGI’s mission. In Sierra Leone, President Ernest Bai Koroma has articulated two consecutive ambitious development agendas, the Agenda for Change (2007-2012) and the Agenda for Prosperity (2013-2017). They set our plans to diversify the economy, create jobs, educate children and provide vital health services. Sierra Leone currently sits near the bottom of the human development rankings (183rd of 187 countries), these plans were designed to change that and set the stage for future growth and prosperity. Achieving change must always start with a clear vision and set of priorities and plans, but these alone are not enough. Coordination; monitoring and accountability systems are essential for turning a government’s vision into reality.
To support President Koroma to deliver his agenda, AGI has been supporting central government delivery mechanisms since 2008. With embedded advisers in the Strategy and Policy Unit (SPU) and Office of the President’s Chief of Staff we have supported improvements to the two primary tools of central delivery: annual performance contracts and sector stocktakes. Performance contracts hold government institutions accountable for meeting targets and are used to evaluate and rank the performance of the government’s leaders.
Since 2008, President Koroma has signed annual performance contracts with 22 ministries and by 2012, with AGI’s support, this had expanded to include district councils, tertiary institutions and parastatals. AGI is now helping the Performance Management and Service Delivery team (PMSD) to enhance the effectiveness of these contracts as accountability tools by deepening civil society’s involvement and ensuring that the contracts are aligned behind the President’s top priorities for the country’s development post-Ebola.
AGI helped establish the stocktake process, whereby the President convenes relevant ministers and civil servants to review progress against the President’s priority projects and sectors, and address constraints that arise during delivery. This accountability mechanism proved vital in the delivery of large energy projects, Sierra Leone’s Free Healthcare Initiative, and road construction, amongst others. For example, the Government needed to meet several pre-conditions to access $40M in funding for the construction of a critical road connecting Sierra Leone to Liberia. Many of these actions were the responsibility of agencies other than the road authority and the project was four months behind. A stocktake on roads revealed the challenges and within one month, the SPU helped to ensure that all conditions were met and the funds released. As a result, the road’s construction is now underway. AGI advisers have worked day-to-day with government counterparts to clarify their roles and build their skills to do their jobs more effectively. This system has evolved from requiring heavy direction and “doing” by AGI advisers to a system fully funded and operated by Government of Sierra Leone by early 2014.
This system has been challenged by the unprecedented Ebola outbreak. Much of government activity stalled in 2014, but the urgent delivery of results has never been more important for President Koroma than now. Ebola has had a devastating impact on the country and has coincided with a collapse in the country’s biggest export sector, iron ore. AGI is supporting the President and his Government to capture its lessons from coordination and delivery over the past seven years and its experience with urgent delivery during the Ebola crisis, to enhance central delivery mechanisms to deliver an immediate post-Ebola recovery programme.
This is a team effort for AGI, drawing on advisers in the Office of the President’s Chief of Staff, Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, Ministry of Health and National Ebola Response Centre. Together we are working with our government counterparts to develop tailored tracking tools, improve data collection, including from the local service delivery level and ensure the President receives timely updates and has a platform to hold his Ministers to account for delivering the highest priorities for the country.
Photography: Bibelselskabet Danish Bible Society