9 December 2013

Brenda Killen (Head of Global Partnerships and Policy, OECD) speaks about encouraging signs of progress on the ground in Sierra Leone and the critical role that IHP+ has played in achieving these development effectiveness results.

‘A sound basis for progress’ in Sierra Leone

A recent mission to Sierra Leone served to reinforce for Brenda Killen, the OECD's Head of Global Partnerships and Policy, just how important and relevant the Paris and Busan principles for effective development cooperation remain. Ms Killen, who travelled to Freetown in November 2013 as a part of a joint IHP+ mission looking primarily at strengthening financial management in the health sector, was impressed by the strong sense of ownership and leadership she saw in the Ministries of Health and Finance. "I could see there were challenges faced by the Government and development partners on managing for results and mutual accountability, but to see partners working together to address these issues was very encouraging", she said. "There is a sound basis for progress, built on trust".

A learning opportunity

Ms Killen explained that part of the role of the OECD in the effective development cooperation space is to facilitate consensus around norms and standards for good development behaviour. “Missions like this set our global monitoring data in context; providing important information about why changes are happening (or not) in country – and why this is important”, she notes. Regular feedback from countries such as Sierra Leone allows the OECD to review its norms and standards, and to support countries to adjust their courses of action in response to the local context, in order to achieve results.  The mission was also an opportunity for OECD to support Sierra Leone as a country in transition, and one which is part of the 'New Deal' for fragile states agreed at the Busan meeting on effective development cooperation in 2011. 

Good practice examples evident

While the building blocks of a health system are now in place, there are also a very large number of partners wanting to provide support. So the long term success will rely on enshrining core aid effectiveness principles in all levels of the system. "The timing of our mission to Sierra Leone was very good", she said, because the leadership required to make the necessary changes is now emerging. Part of the mission involved a two-day workshop looking at ways all partners can strengthen Sierra Leone's public financial management system for the health sector, led jointly by the Ministers of Health and Finance. “The model of a single project implementation unit may present some challenges, but there is a willingness to have joint discussions about it, and I was impressed by the level of support showed by the Ministry of Finance towards the Ministry of Health in this process.” Constructive and open discussions such as these can help to build trust and foster a sense of mutual accountability for results, and encourage development partners to use national systems where possible. The development of an Aid Management Platform in Sierra Leone is also positive, and likely to increase transparency and predictability of aid. 

The value of IHP+

"What I saw in Sierra Leone underscored for me the importance of the work IHP+ is doing in bringing together partners to look at how they can address the principles of effective development cooperation and bring visible results in the health sector. The upcoming Ministerial meeting on effective development cooperation, to be held in Mexico in April 2014, is a great opportunity to share these lessons and to reaffirm the commitments of all partners to these issues", Ms Killen said. Where Governments are committed to core aid effectiveness principles but have relatively weak capacity, IHP+ can play an important role in supporting those countries. “The way in which aid is provided can make the difference between achieving the MDGS, or not”, Ms Killen notes. IHP+ can help to empower countries to put in place mutual accountability processes for these kinds of results. 

Some suggested next steps

Sierra Leone is already a leading player in the New Deal and has expressed an interest in the work of the Effective Institutions Platform, which supports countries in the design and implementation of their public sector reforms – including public financial management. "Sierra Leone can keep drawing on the Busan communities of practice", Ms Killen noted, and would do well to look to the experience of other countries which have gone through similar challenges. Continuing to engage constructively with all partners – including bi and multilaterals, civil society, and the private sector – should see Sierra Leone capitalize on the sound basis for progress which it has put in place.  

Categories: Sierra Leone

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