Kenema City Council, with support from UNDP/UNCDF has engaged in the planning and implementation of Local Economic Development and Gender Equitable Local Development (LED/GELD) programmes to promote decentralized service delivery and make critical pro-poor economic investments. This engagement has resulted in the completion of 3 strategic infrastructures for the people of Kenema City and the district: i) An abattoir and cold room at the Kenema Fishery Market; ii) A water purification plant at reservation road in Kenema City; iii) A community health centre at Hangha Town.
The Local Economic Development (LED) and the Gender Equitable Local Development (GELD) introduced in Sierra Leone by UNDP/UNCDF is the engagement of local councils with the private sector and the civil society to add value to the economic potentials of the localities and provide income generating and employment opportunities to the population with special attention to women and other vulnerable groups.
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.
Moreover, a consensus was reached through participatory discussions 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.
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 counterparts 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 software.
Beyond the two projects commissioned today, the LED and GELD approach supported by UNDP/UNCDF has changed their 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/INCDF 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.