OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign up, Login or Learn more

Wan Fambul: National Framework for Inclusive Governance and Local Development in Sierra Leone

Development from the in-side out

Photo of John Caulker

Written by

*Please Upload User Experience Map (as attachment) and any additional insights gathered from Beneficiary Feedback in this field

For our user experience research we focused on how women can interact with the People's Planning Process. We visited a group of Peace Mother's who were a part of the first Fambul Tok intervention -the community healing process and the bonfires. Their village was not one of the PPP pilots. One of the key take ways for us was with out the larger system, the Peace Mother structure, was a good local intervention but was not as effective as when it is fully linked in the larger inclusive gov. system.

Why does the target community define this problem as urgent and/or a priority? How is the idea leveraging and empowering community assets to help create an environment for success? (1000 characters)

The PPP and the broader inclusive organizing process grew out of Fambul Tok’s post-war community reconciliation work and the needs that came from responding to and recovering from the Ebola crisis. Fambul Tok started its work with community reconciliation in response to the externally-driven recovery and development efforts after the war. Most efforts were ‘outside-in’ and did not address the needs or utilize the resources of the communities and community members most impacted by the war. The concepts, design, expertise, leadership and resources came from outside the impacted communities rather than from the communities themselves. Through an inclusive community-centered process, Fambul Tok facilitated the creation of community structures that led their own reconciliation efforts as well as follow-up peace and development initiatives, such as the formation of the Peace Mothers – a women’s group designed to bring women’s leadership to community improvement initiatives.

How does the idea fit within the larger ecosystem that surrounds it? Urgent needs are usually a symptom of a larger issue that rests within multiple interrelated symptoms - share what you know about the context surrounding the problem you are aiming to solve. (500 characters)

During the Ebola crisis, the structures FT supported in communities, especially the Peace Mothers, mobilized prevention and response work from within their communities. It was effective. In contrast, the pattern of national and international response, once again repeated ‘outside-in’ patterns, ignoring community voices and missing the opportunity to mobilize local engagement and leadership. This led to an effort between FT, and the Ministry of Local Government to fill the gap nationally.

How does the idea affect or change the fundamental nature of the larger ecosystem that surrounds it (as described above) in a new and/or far-reaching way? (500 characters)

Today in Sierra Leone community voices are still not put in the centre of the conversation. The Wan Fambul Framework is a national effort to organize community voices, so they can interface with outsiders (those outside their direct community and those from a national or international level) to mobilize community resources and request specific aid supporting community priorities and initiative. The national framework changes everything, and brings people into the center for the first time.

What will be different within the target community as a result of implementing the idea? What is the scope and scale of that difference? How long will it take to see that difference and how will it be sustained beyond BridgeBuilder support? (500 characters)

The change will be sustained by the structures the WFNF supports. The structures will have both the capacity and the mandate to lead and sustain the PPP in an ongoing way. Actors at all levels will be empowered to direct resources to serve people’s needs/agendas. It will take 3 months to see the differences at the local level; 6-12 months to see sustained change at the District level and in new districts. National impacts will be both ongoing and incremental, some immediate and some longer term.

How has the idea evolved or responded to your user research during the Beneficiary Feedback Phase and any further insights provided if you participated in the Expert Feedback Phase? (1000 characters)

The main thing we learned during our user research phase was structures without the overall inclusive supporting system does not allow for as much impact for women's leadership in community decision making. Thus, just creating structures is not enough. The supportive system is required for them to really function fully. This is why a systemic approach to the link between governance and peacebuilding is required. As we move forward with the national role out phase, feedback such as continue to develop the ways of linking structures to systems.

What are the key steps for implementation in the next 1-3 years? (You can attach a timeline or GANTT chart in place of a written plan, if desired.) (1000 characters)

We are requesting for 15 months of funding to kick off the national program -- to get it moving right away as longer-term funds are raised by the government and other partners. We wish to start with a national level dialogue/consultations taking the draft framework to every district in the country ask people to improve the framework and make it serve their needs. This type of national consultation will never have been done. The pilot district IDCs will work with the MOPED and MLGRD to guide the consultation process.

Describe the individual or team that will implement this idea (if a partnership, please explain breakdown of roles and responsibilities for each entity). (Feel free to share an organizational chart or visual description of your team). (500 characters)

Secretariat -- The working body which supports the design, development, implementation and monitoring of the WFF. It will sit at Fambul Tok and will serve as the technical coordinating arm of the new collaborative partnership. The National Government will provide oversight and policy guidance to the WFF. The Ministry of Planning and Economic Development will become the new policy level lead; while the Ministry for Local Government and Rural Development will lead on implementation.

What aspects of the idea would potential BridgeBuilder funds primarily support? (500 characters)

We are requesting funds to pilot the PPP in Kono District, which would be a new district. We would also use the funds to do national consultations on the framework in 10 of the 16 districts. And finally we would seek support to fund Secretariat activities.

In preparation for our Expert Feedback Phase: What are three unanswered questions or challenges that you could use support on in your project? These questions will be answered directly by experts matched specifically to your idea and needs.

1. Today the space for civil society engagement is shrinking across the world. What can be done to expand civil society space in developing countries?

2. How can our partnership with the government and others continue to ensure communities remain the main drivers of their own development? When things are scaled how do we protect the process so that it does not become just another business as usual process, where political expediency overrides community needs?

3. Assume government and civil society are collaborating on a specific initiative. How do you ensure sustained engagement after a national or local election when there is a new government? Are there ways to help makes sure one does not have to fully start over again?

Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)

In the past two years, the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD) of Sierra Leone formed a new partnership with Fambul Tok International (LNGO) and Catalyst for Peace (INGO) to develop the Wan Fambul: National Framework for Inclusive Governance and Local Development. The Framework is designed to bring devolution to the next level and development to the doorstep of the people.

The Wan Fambul Framework outlines a holistic, community-owned and led process leading to a National People’s Plan, and it is built on the learning from a 3 ½-year comprehensive pilot process in three districts, in Kailahun, Moyamba and Koinadugu. The pilot tested a People’s Planning Process to mobilize communities to lead in their own recovery and development, while also creating an inclusive infrastructure to sustain and support that process. It is anchored in the Districts by an Inclusive District Committee (IDC), coordinating all the District peace and development stakeholders, including the District Councils, Traditional Leaders, MDAs, NGOs/INGOs, CSOs, Women, Youth, Disabled, Inter-Religious, and Community Representatives.

Since 2006, Fambul Tok and Catalyst for Peace (CFP) forged an approach to healing, recovery and ongoing development (beyond the window of Ebola recovery) that places people and communities in the very center and at the helm – the People’s Planning Process. The People’s Planning Process, called the PPP, is an inclusive community mobilization and engagement process for community welfare and development. The process has built structures that are helping resolve long standing conflict and engaging communities to champion their own recovery and development. This ‘inside-out’ approach repairs the torn fabric of community and builds social immunity for the next crisis, whatever it may be, thus helping break an endless crisis and response cycle.

Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)

The beneficiaries of the Wan Fambul Framework are the citizens of Sierra Leone. The Wan Fambul Framework offers a vision of a whole, inter-connected Sierra Leone, undivided by region, ethnicity and partisan political affiliation. Research has demonstrated that strengthening social capital with particular reference to the proxies of trust, collective action, inclusion, local groups and networks, and information and communication as embodied in the principles of the planning methods below, is relevant for peace and development operations in rural community levels. By offering “a new way of doing business” the WFF demonstrates Sierra Leoneans can live as “Wan Fambul” and value the gifts diversity brings.

Both institutions and structures and people are are part of the Wan Fambul Framework including: District Councils, Traditional Leaders, MDAs, NGOs/INGOs, CSOs, Women, Youth, Disabled, Inter-Religious, and Community Representatives.

How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)

Genuine ownership is fostered. Fambul Tok has a three-layer approach to development: 1. The PPP mobilizes every village to define their own development needs and priorities, while also establishing gender-positive local inclusive governance structures that put implementation of local solutions squarely in the hands of local populations. Village representatives work together with their neighboring villages to address priority needs, even before outside aid is available, creating networks of empowered local leaders, with specific emphasis on women, and unleashing powerful local energy and resources for development. 2. The IDC fosters cross-sector coordination, addresses District conflicts and challenges, and allows District leadership in the ongoing rollout of the PPP. It fills the communications gaps to enable responsive service delivery to the people; 3. Development of a national policy framework to support grass-root development efforts.

Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)

  • Full Scale Roll Out: I have already tested and scaled this idea significantly with the intended user base.

Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)

Fambul Tok is the inspiration and creation of the people of Sierra Leone, drawing on Sierra Leone’s “family talk” tradition of discussing and resolving issues within the security of a family circle. As a result, our approach is rooted not in western concepts of crime and punishment but in communal African sensibilities that emphasize the need for communities to be whole – with each and every member playing a role.

Expertise in sector

  • 7+ years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered non-profit.

In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.

“We are saying deal with Ebola in a way that structures will be in place to handle post-Ebola discussions, because experience or history has taught us that Ebola – there’s always a possibility that it will come again. So how do we put in place structures in the communities, in the districts, in the villages, to ensure that once Ebola comes again, we’ll have structures in place to deal with that immediately and it [won’t] get to where we are now.” — John Caulker, Executive Director of Fambul Tok

Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).

Peace, prosperity and planet are integrity connected in Sierra Leone. In Sierra Leone when community mobilizers ask, “What kinds of problems contribute to the brokenness in our communities?” The answers one hears from both the community as well as the institutions related to the dire poverty found in rural and urban areas, to communal and personal conflict at all levels of a broken society, and to the changing climate which cases mudslides like the one in September 2017 outside of Freetown where 1,200 people were killed one morning at 6 am.

The People’s Planning Process acknowledges that the cup needs to be repaired—the community needs to be made whole—before any more water can be poured in, and it focuses resources and programming first in ways that repair the cup. Supporting communities to lead a process of community healing, and bringing communities together to create and own their own development agenda, repair the cracks in the cup.

Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)

The Wan Fambul Framework is designed to support the MLGRD and the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development in facilitating the process for the next 5 years in order to develop a National People’s Plan that is owned by the people from the sections, chiefdoms and districts up to the national level.

Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)

Fambul Tok originated in the realization peace can’t be imposed from the outside, or from the top down. Nor does it need to be. The community led, and owned reconciliation process they support, witness and celebrate in Sierra Leone illustrates communities have within them the resources they need for their own healing.

Geographic Focus

Sierra Leone

How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)

15 months

Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)

  • No


Join the conversation:

Photo of Ashley Tillman

Hi John Caulker great to have you in the Challenge! It sounds like you've done some amazing working engaging a diverse range of community stakeholders to catalyze community-driven change. Can you share a story or two about what impact has looked like to date and what your dream would be to achieve in the next 36 months?

Jaskeerat Bedi curious if you have any thoughts or questions?

Photo of John Caulker

Thanks Ashly for your comments. Sorry we have been off line for a variety of reasons for most of July.

We have tried to incorporate more of our stories in our current submission. We will be working to try and tell individual stories in the final response. Here are a few of the stories that first come to mind.

Grace’s was a part of the Peace Mothers in her village and a section representative. When a Section Chief position became open, the women came to Grace and asked her to run. At first she was hesitant because women are not a part of the chief structures and their participation is not encouraged culturally. She then told them even if she wanted to run she did not have money to run the campaign. But the women convinced her and told her that they would raise the money needed because they wanted a voice that would speak for them and their children finally in power. So she told them, if you raise the funds I will do it. Everything she needed like rice, palm oil, goats, and even cash was raised by the women of the section. [In SL it is traditional that in order to run as a chief there are required things you must bring to Paramount chief to be given the go ahead to run a campaign. When Grace appeared the morning of the election with all the required items the other two (male) canidates excused themselves from the election because they had not managed to raise the needed items. Grace became the Section Chief and is now serving her people, with a special heart for the issues of women and children. She told us at .gathering when she recited this story, "I learned my leadership skills from the Peace Mothers. And I earned this title from the Peace Mothers. If I do not serve my people with knowledge then I should not hold the office."

Neini story - Chief Jalloh - Told us how after the PPP process in his district the residents decided to stop waiting, and raised money among themselves and the diaspora to build their bridge. They bought the cement and provided the labor, cajoled the DC into providing the engineers - and got their bridge built, after years of it never being done by the district or national gov’t.

Koinadugu DC (former) Sheku Kamara - said the Inclusive District Committee made his job “60%” easier.

I once talked with one man from the far north at lunch at the committee launch meeting, Moses, who felt like being involved in the PPP was the first time he ever felt like he was Sierra Leonean.

I hope this answers your questions. If you have ideas on how to improve our submission we would be keen to learn more.

All the best,


View all comments