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The National Commission for Social Action (NaCSA) has adopted a new approach in its Strides to Alleviate Poverty in Sierra Leone by forming Self-Help Affinity Groups (SAGs) in poor communities for socio economic development and improved livelihood. (Photo: NaCSA staff forming Self –Help Groups in poor communities in Bombali District )
Two trainers from Mysore Resettlement and Development Agency (MYRADA) in India was contracted to help in building the capacity of NaCSA staff and Development Officers of Local Councils in implementing the Self-Help Affinity Groups (SAG) concept in Sierra Leone.
The training facilitators Raja Chary and CK Basavarajatu from MYRAD adopted a Participatory Rural Appraisal approach to understand the existing social, economic, political power structures and to also identify poor communities for the formation of Self- Help Groups.
MYRAD programme officer Raja Chary said the objective of the ten days training at the Makeni District Council Hall is to strengthen NaCSA and Local Councils for the setting up of Self-Help Groups in poor communities.
He said they intend to organise ten training programs geared towards building the capacity of development officers and community facilitators for the formation of 250 self help groups in poor communities across the country.
After few days of the training, participants conducted a field trip at Mafonikay village with a population of 600 inhabitants just four miles from Makeni Town, it is one of the poorest communities in the District where locals were dressed in rags and visibly hungry.
Majority of the villagers are living in abject poverty and lacks several social amenities, after a brief meeting with participants, they motivated locals to form two self help groups of 15 -20 people in each group.
Some of the locals sat on the bare floor, mats and benches with enthusiasm to form the Self Help Group facilitated by NaCSA staff and the training facilitators.
The Town Chief of Mafonikay village Pa Sorie Kamara expressed thanks and appreciation to NaCSA for forming the Self –Help Group in his village and assured of his people’s fullest corporation towards the group.
The pilot phase of the project is currently implemented in the Bombali District by participants of a ten days training of trainers workshop in Makeni.
Participants were also trained to indentify the poor for the promotion of the Self Help Group to enable them gain direct experience and skills of community mobilization and methods of conducting meetings, savings and credit management.
The issue of poverty is now a major challenge in growth and development activities, since its establishment by an Act of Parliament, the National Commission for Social Action (NaCSA) continues to be at the vanguard of the fight against poverty especially in the regions of Community Development, Livelihoods Development and Social Protection.
The Objectives of Self-Help Affinity Groups includes; organizing poor families and bringing them into institutions; creating saving habits among the group members to build their own capital; enhancing the level of awareness of members of the group on the concept of development and available programmes in Government Departments; encouraging members to learn literacy and numeracy.
At the formal opening of the training at the Makeni District Council Hall Samuel Bangura the Programme Manager of (SLCDD), Saidu Lawrence Sesay the Finance Manager and James Harding of SOCEP programme including the NaCSA Regional Coordinator Sheku Fofana implored participants to implement experiences gained in their respective communities.
Before the end of the ten days training participants are expected to form Self Help Groups in three villages in Bombali District for the pilot phase with plans to extend it to other parts of the country.
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