Yarpah Town, River Cess – Two Representative Candidates contesting in District two, River Cess County have signed an agreement with constituents to adequately manage funds allotted the county if elected as lawmaker in the upcoming elections.
The two candidates signed the community election platforms to support efforts that would improve the management and accountability of the county social development funds (CSDF).
This comes amid increasing debates over the alleged mismanagement of resources that leads to the lack of basic social services and infrastructure
CSDF are monies paid to the counties by concession companies operating in the county as part of the firm’s social corporate responsibility. The funds are intended for development projects following decisions made at the county council sitting, which includes a cross section of locals. The projects are then implemented under the supervision and management of the project management committee (PMC).
The two candidates Isaac Vah Tukpah of the CDC and Matthew T. Walley of the Liberty Party signed the community elections platform otherwise known as the pledge cards.
The CDC) Candidate told the electorates he will ensure that communities benefit from the CSDFs.
“The County Development is for the people and not the benefit of Government officials,” Tukpah said. “This is why when we are elected; we will make sure the right thing is done with the money.”
For candidate Matthew Walley of the Liberty Party Candidate, he promised to introduce a bill that will give the community power in the managing CSDFs.
“We will not turn the entire thing over to the community, but we will make sure that the community works along with the local county authority in the management of the County Social Development Funds,” Walley said.
Experts say the sustainability and development of a society depend on the ability of the society to utilize and manage its resources for the common good of its citizens.
Despite ongoing efforts by government and partners to improve transparency and accountability in the management of the county society development funds, there remains complex and multiple challenges including limited citizens participation and tracking of development projects or the use of county resources.
A community election platform is a tool developed by the natural resource management and concession to commit duty bearers to supporting efforts that will improve the sustainable management and accountability of the county social development Funds.
The Sustainable Development Institute (SDI) is working within ten communities in two of the six statutory districts in River Cess County to ensure transparency in the management of the County Social Development Funds.
The SDI project, which is supported by USAID-Liberia Accountability and Voice Initiative, is helping locals discuss and approve development projects they want to carry on and how much they will spend on each project through the county council sitting. The project conducted perception survey of citizens on the management of the CSDF in the three counties by facilitating focus group discussions and conducting key informant interviews with concessionaires, local leaders and county leaders.
Citizens expressed concerns over the lack of accountability in the management of the CSDFs and said county officials select projects for them, and that community consultation or county settings are cover-ups.
“We are not involved with setting project priorities and monitoring projects funded from the CSDFs, but we are invited at the county council sitting only as an observer without voting rights,” said George Trokon, the head of civil society organizations in the county.
Comfort Konway, a resident of Gbloseo Town, told LocalVoicesLiberia that she has been invited to the county council sitting but was never allowed to say anything.
“We only go to the county sitting for going sake but decisions are being made by our Big-big people,” Konway said.
Melvina Kerkulah, the spokesman for a community forum, said she’s now motivated to rally her group and sensitize them.
“Now, I will work with my women in this district to identify issues about our development funds for us to advocate about. And I want to tell SDI thank you for opening our eyes,” she said.
Report By: Eric Opa Doue