Written by

Mr. Victor Koroma & Dr. Obinna Onuoha

The Sierra Leone (SL) COVID-19 Finances Accountability Working Group (WG) held its inaugural meeting on Wednesday, 2nd June 2021 at the Ministry of Finance in Freetown. The meeting, which brought together NGOs working in diverse sectors, was chaired by Mr. Victor Lansana Koroma of Health Alert Sierra Leone (HASiL) and co-chaired by the Director of Public Finance Management Unit (PFMU) at the Ministry of Finance.

Prior to the inaugural meeting, the SL COVID-19 Finances Accountability WG reviewed and agreed to a term of reference (ToR) that would guide successful operation and implementation of its workplan. The SL COVID-19 Finances Accountability WG is a loose group of advocates, media organisations, civil society organisations (CSOs), academia, youths, parliamentarians and officials within the Ministries of Health and Finance, who engage in evidenced-based advocacy and sensitization on COVID-19 finances to promote accountability and transparency.

In essence, the WG was formed to:

  • Gather, analyze and synthesize information on COVID-19 finances in Sierra Leone.
  • Serve as a clearing house for COVID-19 finance documents such as scorecards, advocacy briefs, fliers and infographics.
  • Conduct advocacy engagements with high-level government officials, such as the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Health, National Assembly and other government-related agencies to influence timely releases of finances, efficient utilization, and accountability for COVID-19 finances.
  • Conduct media engagements such as press conferences; press briefs; interviews; and print and online publications, including social media campaigns.
  • Develop, approve and implement viable strategies for engagement with relevant government officials, corporate organisations, civil society, media, the academia, and other key interest groups to advance advocacy for accountability in COVID-19 finances.
  • Ensure that the content of the advocacy is technically sound, practical and actionable; perceived as legitimate based on the rights of Sierra Leoneans to information and their socioeconomic well-being; and to the extent possible, rooted in consensus and the support of broader coalitions working in the accountability space.
  • Support advocacy to galvanise action for domestic resource mobilisation for COVID-19 vaccines, tests and treatment, and to ensure other RMNCAH+N services are not disrupted due to COVID-19
  • Carry out any other advocacy roles related to the WG for accountability.

During the inaugural meeting, the WG agreed on the following:

  • The Director of Public Finance Management Unit within the Ministry of Health was nominated to serve as co-chair to the WG
  • The Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Health and the National COVID-19 Emergency Response Centre (NACOVERC) to support with comprehensive reports on income and expenditure relating to COVID-19 funds.
  • Monitoring tools for COVID-19 finances were agreed to be developed with key indicators.
  • Specific roles and action plans with deliverables were developed and agreed on, and
  • Methodology of data collection was also deliberated and finalized.