The Government of Sierra Leone (GOSL), represented by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development and the European Union (EU) on Thursday 4th November 2010 signed a financial agreement in the form of grant as support to the Sierra Leoneís democratic governance and poverty reduction strategy as set out in the ĎAgenda for Change 2008-2012.í
Under this agreement, the EU is to provide the sum of Ä52.5 million (over Le 279 billion Leones) through the 10th European Development Fund in furtherance of the Unionís support to the countryís transition from post-conflict to development oriented one under the objective of the 2010 Annual Action Programme (AAP). The AAP is composed of four projects comprising Electoral Assistance, Priority Infrastructure Works, Agriculture for Development and Decentralized Service Delivery.
Speaking at a joint EU/GOSL press briefing yesterday at the ministryís conference room in Freetown, the EU Head of Delegation in Sierra Leone, Jean Pierre Reymon-Det-Commoy assured that the EU funds would provide the much needed financial and technical support to strengthen national capacities for election management in anticipation of the 2012 general elections.
"EU funding will enhance the institutional and management capacity of the National Electoral Commission and the Political Partiesí Registration Commission to address inclusive participation by expanding levels of electoral/democratic awareness and participation of the population prior to 2012 general and local elections," he informed his audience
In addition, he said EU funding would also address conflict management by reducing the level of political tension and promoting a more conciliatory and consultative political and electoral process while at the same time improving the access to, and administration of electoral disputes in collaboration with political parties and other stakeholders.
On Priority Infrastructure Works, the HOD revealed that high priority roads and bridges would be rehabilitated. He said the project includes infrastructure improvements in the capital city Freetown to protect against flooding and landslides, noting that the overall objective is to enhance socially and economically sustainable development of the population by improvements on road transport and consequent reduction in costs. This he said will also serve to enhance the maintenance system of the public infrastructure by providing support to the rehabilitation and upgrading process.
"This 2010 contribution is part of the European Unionís continued support in the area of transport and infrastructure which covers works on the Bo-Bandajuma highway and the Makeni -Kabala highway, and also works on seven to eight minor bridges on the Masiaka-Bo and Songo-Moyamba-Moyamba Junction roads respectively," said Mr. Reymon-Det-Commoy, adding that the funding would also address works on trunk and feeder roads in Freetown.
He also informed that the EU funds would provide support to increased productivity, improved quality and ensure better market access for selected cash crops. "The overall objective of the proposed project is the reduction of poverty in Sierra Leone through increased agricultural productivity and quality of produce." he said.
In the area of decentralization, the EU head of delegation said the funding would support the Governmentís efforts to increase the role of local councils in decision making and improved delivery of basic services at local levels.
"The overall objective here is to support decentralized delivery of basic services in the country in which four areas will be targeted such as health, education, water and waste disposal," he noted, saying the EU contribution is part of the World Bank - Sierra Leone programme on decentralization.