This report provides a review of the Community Empowerment Projects (CEPs), an innovative method of securing sustainable reintegration sponsored by the UNHCR in Sierra Leone. From 2003 through 2005, the UNHCR conducted almost 1400 CEPs in five different districts of Sierra Leone. The largest number of projects were implemented in Kailahun (618), followed by Kono (496), Pujehan (157), Kenema (65), and Kambia (38). Most CEPs can be categorized within five main sectors: water and sanitation (44%), livelihoods (21%), education and community services (20%), community buildings (12%), and health (3%).
UNHCR also enacted a number of CEPs, primarily in the sectors of education and community services, health, and livelihoods, that specifically addressed gender issues facing women and girls within Sierra Leone.
The purpose of this review is to evaluate the overall strategy and goals of UNHCR in implementing the CEPs in Sierra Leone. This review will also rate the projects according to their contributions to peacebuilding, protection, productivity, and sustainability as well as their attention to vulnerable groups. In addition, the CEPs specifically designated as “gender projects” will be assessed.
This evaluation is based on site visits to about 150 CEPs in Sierra Leone, carried out between 2005 and 2011. The main findings of this report are as follows.
In selecting its strategy and goals of the community empowerment program, UNHCR correctly focused its efforts on two of the most damaged districts, Kono and Kailahun, and on the important border districts of Kambia, Kenema, and Pujehan. This strategy allowed UNHCR to maximize its impact without spreading its resources too thinly. UNHCR should have devoted some resources, however, on spontaneously resettled refugees in Koinadugu and in urban Freetown.