During the July 8th – 23rd OAFLAD General Assembly, First Lady of Sierra Leone, Madam Fatima Maada Bio focused on the root causes and her advocacy on early marriage, rape & teenage pregnancy.
Two panel discussions formatted to propel an engaging interaction between some OAFLAD First Ladies and two partners was held, in the presence of an audience made up of high level government officials and stakeholders —development partners and private sector partners.
Fatima Maada Bio, as a member of the steering committee of OAFLAD was one of the panelists. The core discussion was:
“What are best practices in forging and maintaining mutually accountable partnerships?”
The key contribution / recommendations made by First Lady Fatima Bio: Not because HIV / AIDs is not important, but working on these causes was of immediate interest to the people of Sierra Leone.
First Lady said it is important to align with organizations with similar vision. This she said is important. For instance, her office is working with UNFPA in Sierra Leone because they have robust programmes in Sierra Leone dealing with issues of mutual interest.
Going round my country, interacting with my people and gathering data from appropriate agencies, Cancer was identified as a major killer. Personally, I work with my people on ground. I interact with them, so I know exactly what their challenges are, then my team design programmes based on the needs of my people.
There is no problem with our partners developing programs, but these should be based on extensive consultation, and not disconnected from the community they wish to implement the programme.
Working with partners: In working with my donor partners and implementing bodies, “trust” is essential. My office will give account of the projects we are responsible for” Once entrusted with a project, our partners should be rest assured, the project will be done judiciously, and our books open to scrutiny. Lack of accountability is one of the reasons for stunted development in Africa. OAFLAD is committed to utilize and account for the funding given to us judiciously, as we build trust with existing partners, and attract new ones.
Accountability and communication is paramount. Every party must have a clear understanding of their responsibilities, and execute them effectively.
In 2002, First Ladies of Africa came together to form the Organization of African First Ladies against HIV/AIDS (OAFLA), with the objective to be a united voice for Africa’s most susceptible citizens; women and children living with and affected by HIV and AIDS. The umbrella body of African First Ladies has announced a change in their name and mission February this year after being in operation for over 16 years. The new name of the body is Organization of African First Ladies for Development, OAFLAD.