A 'Performance Audit Report for May 2017 on Youth in Drainage Clearing Project (YDCP)' implemented by the Ministry of Youth Affairs (MOYA) has concluded that the implementation of the said project was not linked to the intended outputs and objectives since there was no framework for proper planning and implementation.
According to Auditor-General, Lara Taylor-Pierce, performance audit of the project in the ministry was undertaken to assess its implementation in respect of creating much-needed livelihood for unemployed youth.
The report states that the ministry implemented the YDCP in November 2013 without a project proposal that indicates needs assessment done for the provision of livelihood for youth until March 2015, adding that there was no signed Memorandum of Understanding between the ministry and key stakeholders for the implementation of the project, although one was drafted in July 2013 which highlighted the roles of key stakeholders.
"This MOU was later suspended in a meeting between Road Maintenance Fund and the ministry in October 2013 which left the implementation of the project entirely in the hands of the ministry," the audit report states, adding that there were delays in the payment of stipends, as various deductions were also made from the stipulated amount of stipends to be paid to participants of the project.
"In particular, the absence of a signed MOU poses serious financial impediments and commitment from various stakeholders in implementing the project. The irregular supply and limited use of personal protective equipment posed serious risk to the health and occupational safety of the youth, while executing their assigned duties," the report further states.
It adds that participating youth were to receive a monthly stipend of Le 400,000; supervisors Le 500,000 and monitors Le 1,000,000 monthly, although "payment of stipend to beneficiaries was not done on a monthly basis and even in cases of payments, deductions were made from individual stipends and that had contributed to ill-motivation of participants which led them not to be reporting for duties on regular basis."
The May 2017 audit report further states that the absence of unique identification of participants posed further challenges in ensuring that payment was made to deserving participants, adding that it affected efficient and effective monitoring and auditing.
The Performance Audit Report maintains that the ministry limited the involvement of Sierra Leone Roads Authority (SLRA) and failed to establish adequate systems to identify and certify the scope of work done by the youth, which caused an increase in the risk of misuse of project funds and raised the question of creditability in the whole process.
"The identification and recruitment of youth was not based on defined eligibility criteria, thereby increasing the possibility for the exclusion of deprived and vulnerable youth from benefiting from the livelihood programme," the reports states.
The report recommended, among other things, that the ministry should establish clearly defined eligibility criteria for the identification and recruitment of youth into the project and it should be made public or advertised.
"Information on the recruitment of youth should be properly documented (for example, application forms, recommendations form, screening and evaluation records, appointment records) and a database maintained and updated with all relevant details of recruited youths on the program. The Ministry should ensure that each participant on the project is assigned unique identification and such records should be maintained in the Ministry and provided to the participants," it recommended.
The report recommended that the ministry should adhere to the provisions of the National Youth Policy which emphasises the prioritisation of registered youth groups in implementing the drainage clearing project and that the relevant stakeholders should be involved in the implementation of the project based on signed MOU clearly defining their roles and responsibilities.
It again recommended that the scope of work per youth group should be prepared routinely by designated personnel and that work done should be certified by responsible personnel before payment is made.
"The Ministry should review the payment of allowances and clearly determine the payment of each category of beneficiary. Once this is done, all deductions from beneficiaries should be formerly agreed upon and communicated to all parties concerned.
"The Ministry should ensure that the tools and equipment procured for the use of the project should be based on needs assessment and are utilised for the purpose. There should also be records of distribution of the tools and equipment maintained. They should ensure adequate systems for the safe custody of working tools. A maintenance plan should be in place for the tools and equipment and provision for necessary replacement. Personal protective equipment (protective gears, rain boots, gloves, nose marks) and first aid kits should be provided by the Ministry and they should ensure that youths use them while performing their assigned duties," concludes the report.