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

Development from the in-side out

Photo of John Caulker

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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)

24-36 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?

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