USAID Field Report Sierra Leone Mar 2001
Bureau for Humanitarian Response
Office of Transition Initiatives
OTI's program in Sierra Leone consists of the following activities:
The Reintegration Training and Education for Peace Program, 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 10 years. The program is being expanded to include a second track called Education for Nation-Building, an adult non-formal education initiative for public and private sector leaders, nationwide.
Technical assistance to the Government of Sierra Leone (GOSL) for development of a new diamond policy and operations, to enable effective control and monitoring of "conflict" diamonds; and support to civil society and NGOs for their engagement in new diamond development programs.
Support to a multi-donor media and communications program of Search for Common Ground Productions. OTI's portion focuses on communications support for demobilization, reconciliation, and reintegration, and to media and distance learning support for OTI's non-formal education program.
Continuation of the 1999 Small Grants Program, especially related to setbacks in the peace process in May 2000, reconciliation, reintegration of war-affected women and girls, development of community leadership, and civic education in preparation for upcoming elections in 2001.
Co-funding with UK/DFID and other USAID offices to provide elections assistance for national, parliamentary, local, and paramount chief elections scheduled to be held in 2001.
UNAMSIL reports that the overall security situation in Sierra Leone remained calm, but sporadic fighting continued on the border with Guinea, in the northwestern and eastern parts of the country. The RUF appears to be under much pressure and have called on UNAMSIL to deploy rapidly in areas controlled by rebels.
In Freetown, street rioting involving school children occasioned the firing of warning shots that caused panic in the city. Police quickly canceled an anti-government demonstration. The cancellation followed a prisoners' disturbance in Pademba Road Prison on March 15. These incidents demonstrate the tension in the city.
Sierra Leonean President Kabbah spent a weekend in Kenema, to assure the population that the town is safe and that the government is not planning any pre-emptive strikes on rebel positions. Vehicular traffic to the rebel-held towns of Tongo, Segbwema and Kailahun is still irregular but the RUF agreed to authorize the opening of the Daru - Kailahun road.
The UN Security Council applied selective sanctions on the Liberian Government for gunrunning and supporting the RUF but delayed their implementation for two months. The move angered both the Sierra Leonean and Guinean authorities. U.S. Senator Russell Feingold, visiting Sierra Leone, called for tougher actions against Liberian President Charles Taylor for his role in fomenting and fueling destruction in Sierra Leone. President Taylor reacted by closing borders, expelling the Sierra Leonean and Guinean Ambassadors and placing restrictions on their embassy staff. A number of diplomatic moves to contain the situation are currently underway.
The Human Rights Department of UNAMSIL led an upcountry mission to sensitize the public and to begin to identify representatives for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, to be established in the near future. The team visited Kenema, Bo, Pujehun, Daru, Port Loko and Mile 91.
President Kabbah announced changes to his Cabinet, selecting ministers mainly from the leadership of opposition parties in Parliament. According to a strategic planning document shared by the National Electoral Commission (NEC) during nationwide consultative meetings, presidential and parliamentary elections are due in December 2001. According to NEC, twenty parties have so far applied for registration. The position of the RUF regarding participation in the electoral process is unknown, as both interim RUF leader Issa Sesay and former RUF spokesman Omrie Golley are engaged in negotiations over leadership issues.
A. Narrative Summary
Education for Peace Program (OTI-MSI-World Vision)
The Education for Peace Program, designed to reintegrate ex-combatants and war-affected youths as productive citizens in their communities, continues in accessible areas of the country. Through March 2001, approximately 21,800 war-affected youths and ex-combatants in over 900 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. The Learning Facilitators (LF) are selected from the local communities. Participants and Learning Facilitators report active involvement in their communities, strides in literacy and greater confidence due to their participation in the program.
The eighth round of Learning Facilitators training started March 19 and is expected to end April 13. Three hundred LFs from 15 communities will benefit from the four-week training of trainers exercise, covering methodologies and familiarization with the five modules of the program. This new group of LFs comes from the following communities: Telu, Yamandu, Jimmy, Blama-Massaquoi, Sumbuya, Mamama, Kabata, Babara, Kagbantama, Konta-Line, Kholifa-Mabang, Rokfulla-Makondu, Pademba Road, Congo Town and Aberdeen.
The following table presents current numbers of participants in the Education for Peace Program.
** This number does not indicate the groups that have been discontinued due to displaced population and other unforeseen circumstances. The monitors estimate an 8-10% attrition rate. Each group consists of 20 participants and 2 Learning Facilitators. The participants are ex-combatants and war-affected youth. Currently there are approximately 18% officially discharged ex-combatants in the program
OTI/Sierra Leone successfully launched four Nation-Building training sessions in the following areas: Mile 91 in the North; Daru in the East; and Pujehun and Moyamba in the South. The program assists local efforts to fight corruption and promote transparent, accountable governing systems by involving relevant stakeholders in a critical dialogue to chart a way forward for Sierra Leone. The program includes four modules and lasts six months. A group of 20 participants with two Master Trainers meets once a week for three hours. The course is designed to build links between the participants of the Education for Peace Program and decision-makers in the community. So far, a total of 120 civil servants, traditional and religious leaders, civil society leaders, professional groupings, youth and women's groups participate in the program, which was started in January in Kenema.
A letter from the Office of President Kabbah raised the profile of the program, thereby gaining more support from government officials and traditional leaders.
U.S. Ambassador Joseph Melrose and OTI Representative Terry Leary traveled to Daru to inaugurate the Nation-Building program there on March 28. Daru has been a UNAMSIL enclave for many months but recently access has improved.
Indicators of Success
Learning Facilitators and participants in Jembe in the Eastern region are participating actively in the resettlement and reintegration activities for refugee returnees from Guinea. They work closely with UNHCR and officials from the National Commission on Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration (NCDDR) in sensitizing the community about the need to accept the returnees as well as assist in the construction of shelter for the returnees.
The UNAMSIL commander acclaimed OTI's Education for Peace program in Daru, speaking about the good work the people of Daru have done to bring stability and peace to the town, especially the Daru Peace Council. Education for Peace program participants established this Council to promote dialogue between the rebels and the citizens of Daru. Regular exchange visits and meetings form part of their program to enhance confidence-building. The Peace Council also undertook a clean-up exercise in Segbwema, a rebel-held town on the outskirts of Daru. Also in Daru, Learning Facilitators and their participants collectively are cultivating 25 acres of vegetables, which they sell to community members to generate income. A previous visit revealed that the young farmers were in dire need of cassava sticks and vegetable seeds. During the inauguration of the Nation-Building Program, the U.S. Ambassador visited one of their plots and presented them with two bags of cassava sticks, enough to plant six acres. According to Ambassador Melrose, the gift was to acknowledge the positive work the participants are doing in the community and the efforts they have made towards sustainability.
At Dambala in the Bo District, the Committee Management Council (CMC) Chairman of the Gumahun site, Andrew John Karimu, remarked "the Education for Peace program has created a very positive impact on our youth." He explained that this is manifested by the formation and emergence of various youth working groups engaged in road maintenance and local brick construction. Mr. Karimu praised the youth for their support in the speedy construction of the community store and drying floor project sponsored by Action Contre La Faim.
Technical Assistance to the Government of Sierra Leone on Conflict Diamonds
A London-based NGO, Global Witness, who pioneered advocacy on "conflict" diamonds, traveled to Sierra Leone and Guinea for approximately three weeks, tasked by the Kimberley Group to evaluate progress on the Certification of Origin regime and other matters related to control of "conflict" diamonds. OTI partnered with the Diamond High Council of Belgium, and the governments of Belgium and the UK to provide technical assistance for Certification of Origin regime, in compliance with UN Resolution 1306 (2000), related to "conflict" diamonds. Global Witness is expected to report on their findings in early April, during a technical meeting of the international group working on a global certification system.
MSI fielded three consultants from March 19 to April 6, to continue the OTI/MSI technical assistance for diamond policy and development programs. MSI continued to work with Government of Sierra Leone (GOSL) officials and civil and traditional society representatives to develop allocation mechanisms and delivery systems for the new Community Development Fund. This fund is being created with export tax revenues currently being deposited into an escrow account, pursuant to the Cabinet approval of ear-marking about one third of diamond export tax revenues to diamond-producing communities. Discussion of allocation and disbursement options began during the February workshops on monitoring of conflict diamonds, and continued in March. Many different options are being considered to disperse the funds. A fiscal expert from MSI was part of the assistance team.
MSI also worked on a public information campaign on "conflict" diamonds and the GOSL's new policies. The GOSL has held a number of workshops up country. OTI/MSI received proposals for a "sensitization" and public information process, developed by participants from previous OTI/MSI workshops.
OTI/MSI purchased computer and other technical equipment for the Ministry of Mines, to improve their data management and strengthen the monitoring unit of the Ministry. A monitoring course will be offered by MSI for the mines monitors the first week of April.
OTI prepared a comprehensive report titled "Sierra Leone: 'Conflict' Diamonds, Progress Report on Diamond Policy and Development Program" [PDF, 123k], dated March 30, 2001.
Search for Common Ground/Talking Drum Studio (TDS)
Talking Drum Studio continues to promote innovative ways of disseminating information to encourage peace, reconciliation and informed participation on public affairs.
Sangbai Drama, a 15-minute soap opera style program aired on six different radio stations nationwide, is gaining popularity. The program highlights the processes and gains of the Education for Peace program using a cast of three characters involved with the Education for Peace activities in a fictitious community in Sierra Leone.
TDS produced three half-hour segments relating to "conflict" diamonds and the new diamond policy for Sierra Leone developed with OTI assistance. One of the programs aimed to inform the general public of the Government of Sierra Leone's new policy to allocate a proportion of diamond export tax revenues to diamond-producing communities through Community Development Funds. This program generated a great deal of interest and feedback on the issue of the Community Development Funds, and what this could mean for mining communities.
Preparations for a Peace Carnival, to be held in Bo during the week of Easter, are almost completed. TDS, in collaboration with World Vision, NCDDR, Radio KISS FM 104, and Management Systems International will use this drama festival to sensitize the public on the demobilization process and OTI's Education for Peace and Nation-Building programs. Representatives from cultural groups and seven Education for Peace circles representing different geographic locations in Sierra Leone will dramatize the importance of peace-building and the role of youth in the reconciliation and reintegration process. This program will be transmitted nationwide in a "simulcast" radio broadcast organized by NCDDR. Jimmy B, a popular Sierra Leonean musician, will be the guest artist.
Small Grants Program
Network Movement for Justice and Development
The Network Movement for Justice and Development completed the training of 253 Community Management Committees (CMC) members involved in the Education for Peace Program. From informal interviews conducted by WVSL staff, the CMC members feel satisfied that they are now equipped with the necessary management and leadership skills to function effectively. It is expected that, as a result of this training, their "community ownership" and commitment to voluntary participation in the Education for Peace Program has been reinforced. They are expected to share the content of the training, and their experiences, with their colleagues of the CMCs.
Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE)
FAWE is continuing training in functional literacy and peace building, targeting 150 war-affected girls and women in Moyamba. A total of 109 trainees, mostly young mothers, are now in the program. During the launching of the Nation Building Program in Moyamba, trainees from the FAWE center provided catering services.
Support to the Electoral Process
The National Election Commission, supported by UK/DFID and USAID, held meetings in Kenema, Lungi, Waterloo and Bo to consult with these communities and obtain information on their vision for the elections. These meetings also presented the National Election Commission's Strategic Plan. The meetings are a forum for community leaders and civil society members to air their opinions on the type of election they want and the method of registration. The meetings were well attended and promoted lively discussions. The Commission is now in the process of developing the elections budget.
Next Steps/Immediate Priorities
- The ninth round of Learning Facilitators training for 20 new communities will begin April 30, 2001.
- OTI/Sierra Leone will host an exit strategy workshop in Freetown. OTI will exit Sierra Leone early next year.
- World Vision will strengthen its staffing by employing 17 new local staff and a program manager for the OTI-funded activities.
In Sierra Leone, Terry Leary, Country Representative, 232 22 226-461 ext. 242/242, Tleary1000@aol.com.
In Washington, Angela Martin, Africa Team Leader, 202-712-5434 or firstname.lastname@example.org.