Accelerating Devolution of Authority and Resources to Local Councils, Sierra Leone (2004)

Sierra Leone had just emerged from a devastating civil war, and as part of the political reform agenda, nineteen Local Councils were elected to manage the local development agenda and to begin the process of decentralizing authority and resources to the local level. The World Bank team in Sierra Leone provided a capacity building grant to support the decentralization process, and the project team leader asked us to work with the newly minted Local Area Councils. The immediate challenge for the Local Area Councils was to build the credibility of the newly elected officials, and to create trust among community members. Together with the World Bank team, we decided on a three-pronged strategy:

  1. Commit to providing a small block grant to each Council ($30,000), even before disbursement procedures were set up and Bank accounts established.

  2. Help each Council focus on one campaign promise, and use the Rapid Results Approach to mobilize the community to deliver on this in 100 days.

  3. Recruit and train staff in the decentralization unit as Rapid Results coaches to provide on-going implementation support to the Local Area Councils.


All 19 Local Councils participated in the program. Here are some of the results of the initial wave of 100-day projects that they launched:

  • Travel time between Sewafe and Kono District was reduced from 1 hour to 15 minutes and transportation costs were reduced from Le 5,000 ($1.75) to Le 2,000 ($0.70).

  • High-yield quick-harvest Inner Valley Swamp Rice seeds increased yields by 4,000 bushels within 90 days in Pujehun District. The actual goal was to increase the availability of high yield rice seeds from 20% to 60% of the farming population in the District.

  • The total volume of garbage in two lorry parks and two markets in Kenema Township was reduced by 90% within 95 days.

The local coaches continued to provide support to Local Area Councils for several years after this initial round of RRI 100 Day Challenges.  After two rounds of successful 100-day Challenges implemented by the Local Area Councils, the champions of decentralization in Central Government had the ammunition they needed to push the agenda of devolving authority and resources from key service delivery ministries to the Local Area Councils. The devolution from the Central Ministry of Health to District Health Offices was completed as a wave of 60-day RRI Challenges in each District.

We introduced the Rapid Results Approach to the Ministry of Local Government in Sierra Leone. The work was documented in a World Bank “Findings Note” in 2006. 

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