USAID Field Report Sierra Leone Jun 2001
United States Agency for International Development
Bureau for Humanitarian Response
Office of Transition Initiatives
The goal of OTI's program in Sierra Leone is to help bring closure to the war and support the reconciliation and reintegration process. Current objectives are to enable effective control and monitoring of "conflict" diamonds and increase the benefits of diamond mining to the producing communities; assist the reintegration of ex-combatants and war-torn communities, including remedial education for youth by-passed by schooling during ten years of war; strengthen civil society's peace-building initiatives; and build public support for demobilization, reconciliation, and reintegration.
To meet these objectives, OTI's program in Sierra Leone conducts the following activities:
- The Reintegration Training and Education for Peace Program is a two-year, nationwide, non-formal education initiative for approximately 40,000 ex-combatant and non-combatant young adults, combining reintegration orientation and counseling, life-skills training, vocational counseling, agriculture skills development, civic education, and functional literacy training. This program focuses simultaneously on reintegration of war-torn communities and remedial education for youth by-passed by schooling for nearly ten years. The program is being expanded to include a second track called Education for Nation-Building, a nationwide adult non-formal education initiative for public and private sector leaders.
- Technical assistance to the Government of Sierra Leone (GoSL) for development of a new diamond policy and operations is designed to enable effective control and monitoring of "conflict" diamonds and to support civil society and NGOs in their efforts to equitably distribute diamond revenues and use them for community development.
- Support provided to a multi-donor media and communications program of Search for Common Ground Productions is focusing on communications support for demobilization, reconciliation, and reintegration. This activity also provides assistance for media and distance learning for OTI's non-formal education program.
- A Small Grants Program is addressing issues related to the setbacks in the peace process in May 2000, the reconciliation and reintegration of war-affected women and girls, development of community leadership, and civic education in preparation for upcoming elections in 2001.
- Co-funding with the United Kingdom's Department for International Development (DFID) and other USAID offices to provide elections assistance for national, parliamentary, local, and paramount chief elections to be held in December 2001.
The overall security situation around the country remains calm. The highway linking Freetown and Conakry via Kambia/Pamelap is officially open, signaling an end to cross-border military activities in the area. The Guinean and Sierra Leonean military will jointly patrol the highway, and enforce border security between the two countries. UNAMSIL reports minimal and localized skirmishes between the Civil Defense Force (CDF) and the Revolutionary United front (RUF) in resource-sensitive areas. The arrest of Colonel Gabriel Mani of the Sierra Leone Army for illegal arms possession could mean a delay in or disruption to the peace process.
Since the recommencement of the Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) program, approximately 4,000 ex-combatants have disarmed and joined the fast track DDR program in Port Loko, Kambia, Kailahun and Lunsar. The demobilization camps in Kono and Bonthe are almost complete and ready to receive combatants. The construction of new DDR centers has been delayed due to a shortfall in funding for the program. An additional $31.5 million has been requested by the World Bank to help fund it over the next two years.
To date the RUF has released 932 children to UNAMSIL, and has promised to release an additional 147 child combatants from their base in Tongo Fields.
The Sierra Leone Government (GOSL) has drafted a three-year economic recovery and poverty reduction program in consultation with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The country should qualify for substantial debt relief by the end of the year.
Preparations for Presidential and parliamentary elections in December 2001 are ongoing.
OTI and World Vision continue to hold regular consultations on the Education for Peace and Small Grants Program. World Vision/SL was recently awarded a grant to implement a skills training and employment promotion program to support the reintegration of ex-combatants and war-affected youth in the eastern and southern regions of Sierra Leone.
Education for Peace Program (OTI-MSI-World Vision)
The Education for Peace Program continues to be implemented in accessible areas of the country. Since March 2000, approximately 32,000 war-affected youth and ex-combatants in close to 1,200 sites have participated in peace building, community awareness, and basic literacy training in their communities. The program engages participants for five to six months using five modules that teach literacy and numeracy while exploring self-reliance, conflict resolution, agriculture, health, and civic participation. Learning Facilitators (LFs) are selected from the local communities.
The eleventh round of LF training is scheduled from July 23 to August 10. Due to heavy rains and difficult/unfamiliar terrain, the program will only cover ten communities, mainly in rebel-occupied Kono, Kabala, Kambia, Bonthe and Bombali Districts. The remaining Master Trainers will be engaged with upgrading Learning Facilitators to implement modules four and five. To date figures for training are as shown:
Management Systems International (MSI) is compiling a resource directory of all reintegration programs in the country. The directory will be completed in July and will be given to the Education for Peace participants. It will also be a database program that will be distributed to UNDP and UN OCHA. UN OCHA representatives have tentatively agreed to continue updating the database once it is completed.
The Education for Peace program continues to support the work of the National Commission on Demobilization, Disarmament, and Reintegration (NCDDR). The Commission consulted MSI/ OTI to train their staff on the delivery of the pre-entry plan module. In June, Learning Facilitators from the Education for Peace program assisted 1,600 ex-combatants in the Port Loko disarmament camp in developing their pre-entry (Homecoming) plans prior to discharge from the demobilization camps. This program is part of the NCDDR Pre-Discharge Orientation (PDO) program. The program is implemented by MSI, utilizing 60 LFs and two Master Trainers. Impressed by the participatory nature of the program, many of the ex-combatants indicated an interest in joining Education for Peace circles in their communities once they return home.
Meetings to introduce and establish Nation-Building sites in Bo (southern region) and Port Loko (northern region) are underway. The Nation-Building Program assists local efforts to fight corruption and promote transparent, accountable governing systems across the country. A total of 60 participants selected from civil servants, traditional and religious leaders, civil society leaders, professional groups, and youth and women's groups will participate in the program. To date, 120 participants in five locations are benefiting from the program.
One of the Nation-Building participants, Major Hashim, from the Sierra Leone Army realized during the program that there was a need to bridge the gap between the armed forces and the civilian population. Major Hashim solicited the support of the Master Trainers and some participants to brainstorm on the issue with an eye to developing a proposal on enhancing civilian-military relations within the township of Kenema. The brainstorming resulted in a successful seminar on civilian-military relations that included representatives of the SLA, CDF, police, UNAMSIL and civilians. It also attracted the attention and funding of the European Union.
Search for Common Ground/Talking Drum Studio (TDS)
Talking Drum Studio (TDS) continues to promote innovative ways of disseminating information to encourage peace, reconciliation and informed participation on public affairs. TDS visited Kono with a famous local artist, Steady Bongo, on a musical tour called "The Road to Peace." TDS and Steady Bongo conducted a joint interview with General Issa Sesay and Gibril Massaquoi of the RUF during which both men stated their commitment to disarm in July 2001.
To keep up with the demands and pace of DDR program, TDS, in collaboration with the Open Society Institute (OSI) is organizing training for community-based radio stations from July 16 through July 20.
Ex-combatants working with TDS/SL will host a new radio program featuring success stories of ex-combatants involved with the Education for Peace program. Each program will be aired on different radio stations for 10 minutes, three times a week.
TDS-SL is putting together a proposal for a radio station in Makeni. Radio Mankneh, originally relocated to Mile 91 from Makeni, has now been fully adopted by local residents. Its popularity is such that it will now permanently be based at Mile 91.
Technical Assistance to the Government of Sierra Leone on Conflict Diamonds
A compromise version of the Clean Diamonds Act was introduced into the U.S. Senate on June 21. The bill has the support of the World Diamond Council (WDC) and Jewelers of America, and NGOs under the Campaign to Eliminate Conflict Diamonds, and the support of the sponsors of the original conflict diamond legislation in the House of Representatives.
The bill requires diamond imports - including rough, polished, and jewelry - to come from a "clean stream" and spells out the details of this system, which may be superceded by an international agreement if the U.S. is a party to it. It establishes a presidential advisory commission, including NGO and industry representatives. It expresses the sense of Congress that the President immediately negotiate, in concert with the Kimberley process, an international agreement designed to eliminate the illicit trade in diamonds, and that the system implementing that agreement should be transparent and subject to independent verification and monitoring. It establishes that violators shall be subject to civil and criminal penalties, including confiscation of contraband and blocking of assets, with proceeds from penalties to go to war victims funds, through USAID.
In the field, MSI visited Sierra Leone to work on the diamond issue from June 26-29. The trip focused on priority areas, including: a) the need for revised export and dealers license regimes; b) the legal status of Mines Monitoring Officers; c) the operation of the newly-established Community Development Fund; d) a proposed program to better sensitize the communities to "conflict" diamond issues; e) transfer of OTI-funded equipment to the Ministry of Mineral Resources; and f) discussion of issues related to diamond smuggling. Responding to great pressure from local NGOs, USAID, and the U.S. Embassy, the government overturned an earlier decision related to the Community Development Fund, and approved a revised procedure that promises to move resources to communities on a much more timely basis. The government has requested additional technical assistance on the implementation of the Community Development Fund, revision of licensing standards and practices, and reclassification of Mines Monitoring Officers.
Small Grants Program
The Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE) is continuing training in functional literacy and peace building, targeting 150 war-affected girls and women in Moyamba.
Support to the Electoral Process
UNDP has established a trust fund to attract donors once disarmament has been completed. Through the International Foundation for Elections Systems (IFES), USAID has granted $1.2 million for support to the December 2001 elections. The GOSL revised election budget is $11.6 million. The National Electoral Commission is still deliberating between representative or constituency-based elections, although a majority favors constituency-based elections.
National Democratic Institute (NDI) representatives have initiated contact with local groups to assist under-represented populations, such as women and youth, understand and participate in the political process. USAID/OTI, DFID, and NDI will work primarily with political parties and civil society groups on elections-related activities. The program will operate until December 2001.
Next Steps/Immediate Priorities
- OTI/SL is awaiting response on a proposal to USAID/Guinea to continue the Education for Peace program in Sierra Leone until December 2002.
- MSI will train eight people to conduct a nationwide impact evaluation on participants of the Education for Peace program within a three- month period.
- OTI/MSI will provide Learning Facilitators to conduct Homecoming sessions for an estimated 1,500 ex-combatants disarming in Lunsar.
- OTI is considering a new grant to a popular local musician to help promote peace consolidation.
- A grant request for setting up a mini-radio station at Tombo is being reviewed by World Vision and TDS.
For more information, please contact:
In Sierra Leone, Terry Leary, Country Representative, ++232-22-226-481 extension 242, Tleary1000@aol.com.
In Washington, Patrick Wingate (email@example.com) at (202)-712-0827 or Angela Martin, 202-712-5434 or firstname.lastname@example.org.