human development, social justice and sustainable social systems

Strengthening Capacities in Sierra Leone

Trocaire and Action for Advocacy and Development

Through the SCORE project, Trócaire has supported local organisations in Sierra Leone to prepare for emergencies and respond swiftly and effectively to crises.

For more than seven years, Chernor Barrie and his community have lived in Worreh Madigba, about 30 kilometres outside Makeni in the northern District of Bombali, Sierra Leone. The community of small, round mud huts is tidy, neat and clean and surrounded by acres and acres of wilderness and swamp. The family raises cattle and sheep and sell their animals in Makeni or the closest community, about 10 kilometres from their grazing land.

In March 2020, the family found themselves facing two crises simultaneously – Chernor Barrie broke his leg in a road accident, and as he was being treated in Magburka Hospital, he tested positive for COVID-19. While his symptoms were mild, Chernor was transferred to the COVID-19 treatment and quarantine facility in Freetown, 3 hours away from his family land.

Simultaneously, Chernor’s family was quarantined by the local health centre, the District COVID-19 Emergency Response Centre, and security forces. While none of his family members tested positive, they were kept under strict quarantine for 3 weeks. They could not perform any routine activities, such as tending to their cattle, or even obtaining food, water and other necessary resources. Chernor’s wife, Fatmata, said food was scarce and the family had to go without meals.

Chernor Barrie and his wife, Fatmata

Action for Advocacy and Development-Sierra Leone (AAD-SL) was at the forefront of responding to the needs of several communities like Chernor Barrie’s, who faced strict COVID-19 restrictions and quarantine conditions with their access to food and livelihoods cut off. The AAD-SL is a national NGO working on local development and crisis response in Bombali, Karene and Port Loko districts in Sierra Leone.

AAD-SL has taken a leading role in the on-ground relief efforts during COVID by coordinating with various local stakeholders to deliver essential resources to communities. This includes food supplies such as rice, sardines, onions and cooking oil, as well as mobile phones with top-up phone credit for connectivity, solar lights and blankets.

SCORE project – Empowering Local Organisations

For the last 18 months, AAD-SL has been a partner in the Strengthening Capacities for Local Organisations to Respond Effectively in Emergencies (SCORE) Project funded by the EU Aid Volunteers Initiative of the European Commission. The project was implemented by Trócaire and Cordaid in Sierra Leone, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia and Rwanda in partnership with 12 local organisations, including AAD-SL.

The project has supported these local organisations in preparing for emergencies to enable them to respond swiftly and effectively to crises in their communities. AAD-SL was one of two local organisations engaged with SCORE in Sierra Leone.

In collaboration with Trócaire, AAD-SL identified key areas where they need support and an organisational improvement plan was prepared for action. As a result, capacity building trainings were provided around:

Emergency preparedness planning,

  • Core Humanitarian Standards,
  • Rapid needs assessments and digital data collection,
  • Cash transfer programming,
  • Protection Mainstreaming.

Comprehensive policy and procedural guidelines were developed on the following for the first time:

  • Feedback and complaint handling mechanisms,
  • Participatory project design and delivery mechanisms,
  • Organisational security policies/procedures,
  • Emergency preparedness plan.

Through the development of their Emergency Preparedness Plan, AAD-SL was equipped with tools and strategies necessary to raise funds, mobilize resources, and respond immediately when the COVID crisis struck.

We thank Trócaire for providing our team with the skills necessary to deliver a rapid humanitarian response, and the funding to be able to respond immediately to COVID-19 in Sierra Leone

Ibrahim Fatu Kamara, the programme director of AAD-SL.

The SCORE project is an example of localisation in action – supporting and building an emergency response that is locally owned and locally led. Families and communities like Chernor and Fatmata Barrie’s can rely on local organisations like AAD-SL for support that is more effective, responsive, and accountable.