WASHINGTON, February 18, 2000 - The World Bank helped Sierra Leone take a step forward in consolidating a fragile peace today, with a $30 million equivalent credit that will help finance the 2000/01 slice of the government of Sierra Leone's National Rehabilitation and Recovery Program (NRRP).
Since 1991, civil strife in Sierra Leone has claimed more than 20,000 lives, and related insecurity has resulted in the internal displacement of 1.2 million people-approximately 25 percent of the population. Thousands of civilians have been brutally dismembered with machetes. UNICEF estimates that there are approximately 5,000 children enrolled in Sierra Leone's various armed groups, and another 10,000 children are registered as separated from their families.
Physical infrastructure, including schools and health facilities, have also been ravaged in the war, and many of the public buildings still standing are being used to house surrendered soldiers and displaced persons. An estimated 75 percent of health facilities are not functional, and 60 percent of primary school buildings have either been destroyed or are in need of major rehabilitation. Economic disruption, particularly in the agricultural and mining sectors has been profound, with GDP declining on average by six percent per annum since 1995. Government finances have also deteriorated steadily with falling revenues and high defense expenditures during the years of insecurity.
A peace agreement signed in July 1999 between the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) and the government heralds a unique opportunity for Sierra Leone to recover from this devastation. National and international support for the program is unprecedented-with a new Government of National Unity, and the commencement of a comprehensive disarmament, demobilization and reintegration program lacking in previous peace efforts.
But for Sierra Leone to embark firmly on a development and reconstruction track, up-front financial resources are critical. The Economic Rehabilitation and Recovery Credit (ERRC) is a quick-disbursing credit that would help provide critical balance of payments and budgetary support to finance part of the costs of the government's program to establish social, economic and protective security and help kick start the economy back into gear.
The proceeds will allow the import of essential commodities necessary to relaunch the economy, including food products, petroleum products, raw materials and intermediate goods. The local currency generated will enable the government to restore basic services, including the restoration of law and order. The funds will also contribute to the transitional safety net for adult ex-combatants as they begin their re-insertion into civilian life.
The National Rehabilitation and Recovery Program will be financed by a US$30 million equivalent credit from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank's lending arm for the poorest countries. The IDA credit is on standard terms of 40 years maturity, including 10 years grace. The credit will complement similar support provided by DFID, the EU and the IMF, and will be implemented in parallel with the IDA-assisted Community Reintegration and Rehabilitation project.
To obtain project documents please contact the World Bank's Infoshop at tel: (202) 458-5454, fax: (202) 522-1500, email: email@example.com
Sharon Cox (202) 473 2035