Sally Taylor, Head of DFID Sierra Leone, speaking at the opening ceremony for construction and rehabilitation of eight emergency obstetric and neonatal care facilities in Sierra Leone.
As my two and a half years as the Head of DFID Sierra Leone (also known as UKaid) draw to a close I am left reflecting on the extraordinary things we have achieved together. When I arrived the country was in the midst of the response and focused on ending the Ebola crisis. Now I am pleased to have had a chance before I leave to see the completion of some of the activities the UK government supports under the Presidential Recovery Priorities. Our support was based on a shared understanding that Sierra Leone needed lasting change that benefited ordinary people.
In July 2015, the UK Government made an exceptional pledge of £240 million to help Sierra Leone recover from Ebola, responding to the President’s call to make as much progress as possible in improving the lives of Sierra Leoneans over the two-year recovery period.
This exceptional funding was to support a new approach, which learned the lessons from the successful fight against Ebola and aimed to raise the ambition on scale and speed of development. It was driven by data that showed where initiatives were most needed and helped shape the prioritisation of resources. This approach was characterised by strong leadership from His Excellency and accountability at a ministry level, it was driven by real-time information on what was happening on the ground and finally involved districts, chiefs, and communities in the implementation of the initiatives.
The UK has funded many of the Presidential Recovery Priorities and the Presidential Delivery Team to lead and coordinate across government. Some of the UK’s investments are visible, such as the 393 new classrooms, 50 health centres with solar energy (and many more with new water and sanitation facilities), 284 new water points, 3 new laboratories, 2.4m anti-malarial bed nets. Other investments have been in people – training over 4,000 community health workers and health staff; equipping over 40,000 teachers with new lesson plans and training. Other UK assistance has been helping government to implement important systemic changes such as operationalising Pay No Bribe, supporting the Ministry of Health to reform the essential medicines supply, and tackling the inaccuracies in the health and education payroll.
I congratulate the Government on what has been achieved so far in partnership with DFID and many other development partners. I hope there will be a continued focus on delivering programmes at pace, engaging districts, chiefs and communities, and building accountability and transparency. The UK will be continuing its support of the Presidential Delivery Team until November 2017 to help with this, recognising that there are some crucial initiatives to complete.
We all hope to see Sierra Leone making continued and faster development progress in the coming years.
There are many challenges to overcome, and the Presidential Recovery Priorities underlines the importance of leadership, prioritisation, effective planning and monitoring. I hope that the government, and future administrations, will continue to set ambition high and to focus on the delivery of those goals. Increasing domestic revenue is a critical part of sustaining and accelerating progress to fund basic services, increase and maintain infrastructure, and move towards more self-reliance.
It is not though all for the government to do. The citizens of Sierra Leone have a key role as well. I echo the President’s call in Conakry Dee at the commission of the solar power installation for the community to protect and maintain the investment, report theft and misuse. That is important in each town and village across the country and in each sector.
I leave Sierra Leone with fond memories and assure you of the UK’s continued commitment to work with Government to help deliver Sierra Leone’s development priorities. Mary Hunt will shortly take over as my successor and I wish her and the DFID Sierra Leone team every success.
© Copyright by Awareness Times
Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.