Maternal and Children Free Health Care and Local Economic Development in Kenema
  • August 12, 2013

On 2nd August 2013, two cabinet ministers were in Kenema (Eastern Region) to commission three socioeconomic infrastructures completed by Kenema City Council and Kenema District Council under the Local Government and Economic Development Joint Programme (LGED-JP) and the Gender Equitable Local Development (GELD) supported by UNDP and UNCDF.

The Minister of Local Government and Rural development (MLGRD), Mrs. Diana Finda Konomanyi and the Minister of Social Welfare, Gender, Women and Children Affairs (MSWGWCA), Mr. Moijue Kaikai, officially opened (i) the City Abattoir coupled with a Refrigerated Room and (ii) a Water Purification Center for Kenema City Council(KCC) and a Community Health Center for Kenema District Council (KDC).

The GELD and LED were officially launched in January 2010 and July 2012 respectively by the Vice-President of the republic of Sierra Leone as the way of achieving prosperity at the local and community level in Sierra Leone.

In Kenema City, UNDP/UNCDF supported the Local Council to review its development plan and incorporate the economic development component. An LED forum was called which brought together all stakeholders from various socio-economic horizons including MDAs, Traditional Chiefs, CSOs, and Women’s Groups among. Others through participatory discussions, a consensus was reached around key priority projects with high potentials of (i) providing employment, goods and services to the population and (ii) return in investment to the District Council in the form of fees and taxes. These criteria ensure the sustainability of LED/GELD projects.

Despite their small size, the following value has already been added to Kenema City and district local economy by the three projects during the construction phase:

  1. 60 direct jobs ( 7 females and 53 males ) and 20 indirect jobs all for women
  2. 6 contracts were awarded to various service providers of which 2 were females. 

During the operational phase of the two projects, it is expected that:

  1. For the Abattoir and Cold Room, it will enhance Value chain development and food security in Kenema City offering the possibility for safe meat, fish and vegetable storage and long term conservation for perishable food. This investment has created a new ring in the food chain from farmers and cattle bearers to traders, especially women and onto the final costumer This will improve on the availability of protein food and thus increasing access to these most essential food commodities for the local population. The rental fees for the usage of the Abattoir and Cold Room will provide the City Council with increased revenues that will be re-invested in service delivery for the population of Kenema City. It is expected that the management of the facility will provide 6 direct employments to 3 males and 3 females and 27 indirect employments to 2 males and 25 females. These numbers are expected to increase over time. An estimated 28,627 people will be reached out daily as direct beneficiaries of the Abattoir and the Cold Room.
  2. For the Water Purification Plant -7 young people (2 male and 5 female) will be direct employees while the investment is expected to create 25 indirect employments (10 males and 15 females). The management of the Water Purification Plant will result in increased income for the City Council in the form of taxes. A six months trial period has proven effective delivery of excellent quality of 3000 liters of purified water per day. The community welcomed the product which is sold out completely everyday. An estimated 35,784 people are expected to be serviced by the this facility.
  3. In addition, many business opportunities will be offered to the population of Kenema especially retailers, cooperatives of producers, fishing association, butchers unions The cost of the two infrastructures is USD 280,000. They will be run as private businesses and the City Council, after a competitive bidding process that is at its concluding stage, will enter into public-private partnership (PPP) with private sector groups for the management of the two projects.
  4. The Construction and furnishing of the Community Health Centre at Hangha, costed USD 120,000 and is geared towards supporting the Free-Health Care initiative and quality Health delivery as a whole to the beneficiary communities. Service provided includes treatment and prevention to main communicable diseases, maternal and child health care. This facility will provide Public Health services to over 16,000 people, including women are expected to benefit from the facility.

The support from UNDP/UNCDF included arrangements for the Ministry of Works to supervise the construction of the two infrastructures and ensure compliance with the national standards and civil construction policies in Sierra Leone. UNDP/UNCDF also supported capacity strengthening of the City Council by sending 5 staff for training in Swaziland on the key functional areas of LED: Planning and Budgeting, Strategic procurement, Monitoring and Evaluation, Record Management, Internal Auditing and resource mobilization. The Staff were exposed to international experience and could exchange with their counterpart from other countries. In order to ensure the utilization of the new skills acquired, each participant was offered a brand new Lap top with up-to-date soft ware.

Beyond the two projects commissioned today, the LED and GELD approach supported by UNDP/UNCDF has changed our thinking of local development from the planning and budgeting to the implementation and monitoring and evaluation of local economic development. Through the LED and GELD approach, economic investments in the localities are only eligible if they provide evidence of real positive impact on the lives of people. With specific attention to the needs of women, the youth and vulnerable groups.

The local community and the council welcomed this opportunity to work closely together in the planning and implementation of these initiatives. The community and the Kenema City Council expressed their appreciation to UNDP/UNCDF and very much acknowledge the impacts the facilities would have on them. The Council and community also committed themselves to working closely with the private sector in the payment of fees and ensuring the maintenance and upkeep of the facilities.

The commissioning of the KCC and KDC socioeconomic investments follows similar achievement by the Moyamba District Council early this year (see at ). A similar programme is being completed in Tonkolili District Council and another one in Kenema District again.