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Inclusive and Decentralized Development Planning: Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone’ Wan Fambul National Framework promotes inclusive local governance

June 6, 2023
Author: Paula Sevilla Núñez

The Wan Fambul National Framework promotes inclusive decentralized development planning. Launched in 2017, the framework brings together different stakeholders at the local level to identify the community’s needs, and co-create a development plan to inform decision-making and resource allocation. The framework is based on Fambul Tok’s post-war reconciliation methodology and its People’s Planning Processes (PPPs). It is a partnership between the Ministry of Planning and Economic Development (MoPED), the Ministry of Local Governments and Rural Development (MLGRD), and the grassroots organization Fambul Tok.

In the aftermath of the civil conflict in Sierra Leone in the 1990s, significant reconciliation and repair work had to take place within communities in order for an increase in resources from government and international aid to have an effective impact on local development.1 In the early 2000s, a community-based organization, Fambul Tok, was founded to increase grassroots involvement in the formal national reconciliation process (undertaken by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and the Special Court) and bring reconciliation to the country’s remote areas by designing local reconciliation programs based on traditional healing practices.2 Building on Fambul Tok’s approach, the Wan Fambul National Framework (WFNF) promotes an “inside-out” approach to increase decentralized planning and decision-making.3 WFNF supports communities to lead development processes and violence prevention measures in addition to truth and reconciliation processes.4 WFNF utilizes the People’s Planning Process (PPP), developed and tested by Fambul Tok.

PPP mobilizes traditionally marginalized groups (i.e., youth and women), as well as community leaders, to co-design and implement plans for their districts.5 The PPP model ensures the incorporation of local priorities into national level development plans through several steps:

  • Consultations: Fambul Tok staff identify stakeholders and leaders to train to become part of Community Welfare and Mediation Committees (CWMCs) and Peace Mothers platforms (details on the selection of members was not readily available).
  • Dispute mediation: CWMCs mediate disputes in the community and help coordinate community development initiatives, and Peace Mothers provide the opportunity for women to lead on healing and reconciliation processes.6
  • Deliberations: Outcomes of meetings from CWMC and Peace Mothers meetings are then proposed to the chiefdom level (the third administrative division in Sierra Leone, with provinces being the largest followed by districts) where a People’s Plan for each chiefdom is agreed upon and taken to the Inclusive District Committee (IDC).
  • Review: The IDC brings together all the district peace and development stakeholders, including the district councils, traditional leaders, representatives from relevant ministries and governmental agencies, non-governmental/intergovernmental organizations (NGOs/INGOs), civil society organizations (CSOs), women, youth, people with disabilities, inter-religious, and community representatives.7 Together they review the people’s plans put forward by the local communities (i.e., the CWMCs).

The IDCs create linkages with the work of government ministries, departments, and agencies to support the implementation of the People’s Plan, which is incorporated into the official District Development Plan under the MLGRD.8 The WFNF secretariat, managed by Fambul Tok, is in charge of training the IDC and facilitating the PPP in the initial stages, until the IDC takes full ownership of the agenda and process.


While Fambul Tok has been operating since 2007,9 the partnership between Fambul Tok, MLGRD, and MoPED was launched in 2017.10 In September 2018 it was agreed that WFNF would become the government’s flagship program nationally for the decentralization of development planning,11 and it was included in the Medium-Term Development Plan of 2019-2023 under the governance and accountability cluster.12 It is currently being legislated into law, which would not only give it permanence in the governmental structure of Sierra Leone, but also would be incorporated into the budget allocations of the government.13


The author was unable to find information on the cost of the program.


By 2021 the WFNF had been implemented successfully in four out of the 16 districts in the country.14 While information on the impact of the WFNF is limited, some evaluations on the Fambul Tok framework demonstrate success in building social cohesion and increasing the participation of formerly excluded populations. The Fambul Tok program has involved more than 2,500 villages across the country,15 with a particular focus on including young people and women16 (figures on participation by group were not found). Studies show that the reconciliation process decreased negative feelings toward perpetrators of crimes by 30 percent, as measured by an index combining several questions related to forgiveness. It also found that social networks were 11 percent stronger in villages that received the program, but that individual well-being was negatively affected by greater presence of PTSD.17

The PPP framework was effectively used during the 2012 elections to discourage the use of violence.18 It was also used to address the Ebola pandemic in 2015, by using networks and trusted relationships developed through the PPP and other Fambul Tok processes to spread messages on handwashing and social distancing, and to coordinate the transmission of information to and from affected communities.19