Civil Registration in Sierra Leone: A hero won’t save the day, applying PDIA might

Guest blog written by Laura Michelle Delgado Van Demen

A year after the COVID-19 pandemic started, the perception that our team working on the establishment of a Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (CRVS) system in Sierra Leone, was standing alone in front of a very massive reform had increased. We were very frustrated since each time we were taking a step forward it seemed we were also taking two backwards. Authorisation was not there neither a spirit for reform and collaboration with different agents through this European Union funded project.

I have been working for five years in the field of EU development and external aid and one thing is clear to me: the system, collaboration and approach to building capacities needs to be done differently. It was in 2019 when I heard PDIA for the first time from a very inspiring PFM practitioner when discussing on alternatives and approaches for the projects we were implementing. Thus, building on frustration and trying to find a new way of doing things, I joined the Implementing Public Policy at HKS with the hope of regaining hope again.

Continue reading Civil Registration in Sierra Leone: A hero won’t save the day, applying PDIA might

Adding depth and dimension to public policy projects

Guest blog written by Razan Farhan Alaqil

Joining the Implementing Public Policy course started as a “cool” yet very far idea during a ministerial meeting that I was attending. But then, I went back to my team, and we all truly thought “Why not?” Within a matter of weeks, I was registered for the course along with my work colleagues; Dr. Hiba Rajab and Alanoud Al Saud.

While we were submitting our applications during the Holy month of Ramadan, I reflected a lot before answering the question around my long-term career goals, and how this course would help me achieve them. After long thoughts, and while fasting, I wrote the following:

Growing up, I always said that I wanted to ‘change the world.’ Whether that was through my actions, work, or volunteering, I always had that urge to plan a career that would serve this purpose…. I started making that dream of mine a reality.  It was becoming clear because those policy amendments I was working on were influencing not only businesses, but also people’s lives, and each individual was changing their world in their own way.”

That’s how I applied to this course. Confident that the actions we make have a larger butterfly effect on the world, confident that my job was helping me change the world.

My colleagues and I developed our challenge statements together, and we were committed to bringing that knowledge we were about to gain to our wider team in the company, to our stakeholders in the private and public sectors, to individuals working and living while being influenced by the work we were advocating for in policies.

Continue reading Adding depth and dimension to public policy projects

Public Leadership Through Crisis 13: Tolbert Nyenswah on leading through Liberia’s Ebola epidemic

written by Matt Andrews

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Tolbert Nyenswah is a Senior Research Associate at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. In 2014 he was the head of the Liberian Incident  Management  System (IMS), leading the operational aspects of the government’s response to the Ebola epidemic. Following this, he led the establishment of Liberia’s First National Public Health Institute and became its First Director General and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) 2017-2019.

This is a podcast of a conversation with Tolbert on his experience (interviewed by Peter Harrington and Matt Andrews). Brief summary thoughts follow, with questions for leaders facing crises today.

https://harvardbsc.simplecast.com/episodes/ltc-3-lessons-from-leading-through-the-ebola-crisis

1.  This can be terrifying

Tolbert relates to the Covid-19 challenge facing many leaders, noting that he was asked to create the Incident Management System when the crisis had already begun  (not in preparation for it): “When you’re in a dire situation where people are in the streets, [you have] no best practice testing capacity … and you are setting up an incident management system at the same time … Before you really understand what the process is about, especially when information is weak …”

I  am sure may leaders feel like this in the face of crisis: unprepared and with much to do. In addition, Tolbert  notes, the country was in a politically fraught position: “The president was in a very, very uncomfortable position as a leader .. in fact political leadership were calling for the president’s resignation [arguing that] the government should step down.”

At 6:38 into the interview, Tolbert simply says, “It was terrifying.” If  you feel you are in the same boat … read on – terrifying things can be dealt with. Continue reading Public Leadership Through Crisis 13: Tolbert Nyenswah on leading through Liberia’s Ebola epidemic