Monrovia - USAID-Liberia Accountability Voice Initiative (LAVI and the Natural Resource Management (NRM) Coalition has launched an information gathering report focused on the management and monitoring of the County Social Development Fund.
The report is geared towards increasing public awareness among citizens and policy-makers to lay the basis for advocacy for necessary changes in the management and administration of the Social Development Fund (CDF).
A thorough desk review and validation workshop by the Natural Resource Management Coalition identified four thematic areas relating to the CSDF. Management and administrative failures were high on the list.
It also highlighted some core challenges that characterized the management and monitoring of the County Social Development Fund (CSDF) which include management and administrative failure, lack of accountability where systemic corruption facilitated by weak civil society, poor transparency as well as few avenues for inclusive citizen participation and lack of citizens awareness on the CSDF.
According to the report, there were dissatisfactions expressed by citizens and civil society actors how the County Social Development Funds are implemented by counties administration.
The report noted that many feel deliberately excluded from decision-making, management and implementation of the funds by local authorities while at the same time, it was noticed that a lack of financial, human and technical capacity among CSOs in some counties hindered them from networking with national stakeholders and international partners.
Moreover the report observed that the management of the County Social Development Fund in other sectors was not workable properly as a result of competing roles of the executive and legislature with respect to administrative oversight of the management and implementation of the fund, confusion over management framework used to administer the fund and politicization of fund by County Legislative Caucuses.
Making remarks during the report, USAID-LAVI Chief of Party Milica Panic said USAID-LAVI would continue supporting the Natural Resource Management, governance and participation of citizens in administering the CSDF.
According to Panic, the organizations involved with this initiative are the Platform for Development and Peace (P4DP), Liberia Media Center, Development Education Network-Liberia (DEN-L) and National Youth Movement for Transparent Educations (NAYMOTE).
She named others as the Institute for Research and Democratic Development (IREDD), Sustainable Development Initiative, Rural Human Right Activist Program and Citizens United to Promote Peace and Democracy in Liberia.
“Each of these CSOs in the Natural Resource Management Coalition with varying specialty reportedly implemented an information gathering activity at national and county levels from November to December 2016,” she said.
“Five organizations, IREDD, CUPPAD, SDI, NAYMOTE and RHRAP conducted the information gathering research across 15 counties in Liberia. P4DP conducted research with central government and other national-level stakeholders based in Monrovia while DEN-L and LMC respectively conducted CSO and Media capacity assessments,” Madam Panic said.
According to her, the objective of the Information Gathering exercise was aimed at identifying issues surrounding the monitoring and management of CSDF in Liberia and to draw out challenges and opportunities related to advocacy, transparency, accountability, and to enhance the participation of citizens in County Social Development Fund decision making.
She registered that the community-based research aided the Natural Resource Management (NRM) Coalition in identifying potential policy reforms to improve the management of the County Social Development Fund, which would inform their priority advocacy activities.
She said by promoting reforms supported by evidence collected from communities and key stakeholders, the NRM coalition will be better equipped to influence policy changes at both the local and national level in enhancing citizens’ engagement to monitor and manage the CSDF, something she believes would make its allocation process more transparent and accountable to community needs.
LAVI Natural Resource Management at the same time emphasized the importance for County Social Development Fund to be translated into various languages for airing on community radio stations, while there should be a district development sitting prior to the county sitting.
The group furthermore wants the creation of an independent citizens’ monitoring group to work with CSOs in developing expenditure tracking system and regular sensitization of citizens about funds.