Governance that Centers Communities: Lessons from Afghanistan and Sierra Leone

On October 14th, IPI together with Catalyst for Peace and the Institute for State Effectiveness, cohosted a virtual policy forum on “Governance That Centers Communities: Lessons from Afghanistan and Sierra Leone.” This event is co-sponsored by the Government of Sierra Leone and the Permanent Mission of Afghanistan to the United Nations. The event focused on the practical steps and challenges involved in supporting people-centered peace and development efforts in both the short-term and the long-term.

The world is struggling with both a global pandemic that has challenged national capacities to respond and increasing pressures on funding from both governmental and nongovernmental donors. As a result, there has been increasing attention on the potential of community-owned and -led initiatives to address poverty, mobilize in crises, and increase security and well-being in line with the Sustainable Development Goals. Engaged and organized communities are able to identify their priorities, work through conflicts, access and use existing resources efficiently, and identify creative and contextual solutions. Local solutions and capacity are especially relevant during times like these, when COVID-19 travel restrictions make local action especially important. However, there are many practical challenges when governments and organizations that are designed to deliver solutions shift their practices to make room for community ownership.

Sierra Leone and Afghanistan are two countries that have important experience with integrating community-centered initiatives into national government policy. They offer different contexts, solutions, and challenges that contribute to a growing body of knowledge on how policy can better support community-centered initiatives.

Sierra Leone is just a few years into determining how to scale up the Wan Fambul National Framework for Inclusive Governance and Local Development. This framework was founded following a decade of inviting communities to participate in their own peace and development through a process facilitated by the NGO Fambul Tok. Afghanistan is twenty years into implementing national community-driven development programming, first through the National Solidarity Program and now with the Citizen’s Charter National Priority Program. While Sierra Leone’s government is in the midst of designing and supporting the implementation of these initiatives, the government of Afghanistan has developed and refined structures and practices to support its programming. Each country also faces different realities with conflict as Sierra Leone consolidates peace in the aftermath of civil war while Afghanistan continues working towards peace in the midst of an ongoing conflict.

Opening Remarks:
H.E. Ms. Francess Piagie Alghali, Minister of State for the Office of the Vice President, Government of Sierra Leone
H.E. Ms. Adela Raz, Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the UN

Speakers:
Ms. Clare Lockhart, Director, Institute for State Effectiveness
Mr. Rasoul Rasouli, CDD Operations and Development Expert, Former Director General, Citizens’ Charter, Afghanistan
Mr. John Caulker, Executive Director, Fambul Tok International
Ms. Libby Hoffman, President, Catalyst for Peace

Moderator:
Ms. Jimena Leiva Roesch, IPI Senior Fellow and Head of Peace and Sustainable Development Program