On Thursday 11 May, we had the first civil society meeting on the Global Financing Facility (GFF) in Sierra Leone. The Global Financing Facility is a multi-stakeholder partnership that supports country-led efforts to improve the health of women, children, and adolescents.
Victor Lansana Koroma, Executive Director of Health Alert led the meeting in Freetown after he had recently attended the GFF global meetings in Washington DC on behalf of civil society in Sierra Leone. He gave his feedback to the Budget Advocacy Working Group and other civil society organisations (CSOs) on the key points of the discussion.
More than 20 CSO representatives from organisations including Health Alert, Wash-Net, Health for All Coalition and youth groups took part to the event.
Victor talked about his experiences from Washington DC, emphasising the importance of civil society engagement in strengthening the GFF process at country level. He also shared lessons learned from the GFF regional meetings in Nairobi.
Both the GFF regional meeting in Kenya and GFF World Bank meetings in Washington DC empowered him to understand the work of the GFF. CSOs have a key role in holding government accountable and supporting them to meet their commitments on the GFF Investment Case.
He informed CSOs that at the global level, the GFF Civil Society Engagement Strategy has been developed and was approved by the GFF Investors Group in April 2017. CSOs in all GFF countries can use this as a guide for their own national CSO coalition on the GFF. Victor mentioned that the GFF country platform in Sierra Leone should have two civil society representatives, including a female, and a youth representative.
Rosie Le Voir from Evidence for Action-MamaYe presented an overview of the GFF. She also shared early ideas about a GFF accountability scorecard that could be used by civil society to track implementation of the GFF at country level. The scorecard will be piloted in Kenya and Nigeria in June 2017.
From the meeting at Freetown, I learnt that 16 countries are currently active under the GFF even though 63 countries are eligible for the GFF funding support based on government request.
We also agreed to:
- Hold a meeting where CSOs will develop a plan in line with the GFF Civil Society Engagement Strategy
- Follow up with the Ministry of Health and Sanitation on the status of the Sierra Leone GFF Investment Case
- Incorporate other CSOs who were not part of the meeting to the RMNCAH/GFF civil society platform
- Identify private sector to work with in order to achieve the goals of the GFF
It is widely believed that the GFF is a new era in development, a breakthrough financing model that galvanises resources from countries themselves, international donors and the private sector to accelerate advancements in the health of women and children. Sierra Leone must not be left behind in this as the country is still suffering from high maternal and infant mortality.