Sierra Leone Overview
The Sierra Leone country program/office was established in July 2009. In August, 2009, a National Consultative Conference was held by OSIWA in Sierra Leone to garner and share information on core/potential issues or areas of intervention that should form the focus of the new Sierra Leone program. The meeting was convened with the aim of engaging a broader Sierra Leone audience to assess and discuss the need for transparency and accountability in governance systems. The consultative meeting was part of a broader OSIWA agenda to foster transparency and accountability towards the goal of deepening democratic governance in West Africa. It was noted then, that whilst democratic transition in Sierra Leone had strengthened civil liberties and political freedoms, there has been limited progress in opening up government decision making to public scrutiny and citizens participation. Improved transparency in the use of public funds and improved revenue flows from natural resources are central to enhancing the material wellbeing of Sierra Leoneans and promoting sustained economic growth. OSIWA’s interventions in Sierra Leone seek to build a new kind of common vision based on mutual goals, mutual respect and mutual accountability.
Notwithstanding the above, it is noted that OSIWA’s support and interventions in Sierra Leone have been broad based, spanning over 8 years and covering its four core program areas: Law, Justice and Human Rights, Governance, Health, Media and ICT. OSIWA’s support has been to build capacity of civil society, establish and sustain democratic institutions and support to state institutions or processes. Over the years, OSIWA has supported and built partnerships in Sierra Leone ranging from organizations that support civic education for democracy, training of field officers in human rights improvement to those that help in awareness raising, capacities of civil populace on the decentralization/ local government reforms etc. These interventions are geared towards fostering vigorous participation of all actors.
The Sierra Leone program has supported a number of projects dealing with transparency in the budget and procurement processes in the education sector, monitoring the implementation of the Local Government Act with specific reference to the Freedom of Information provision, promoting the broad based participation of women and youths in electoral processes, Building Community Capacity for preventing and responding to Sexual and Gender Based Violence. These projects have as an integral aim, the promotion of accountability and transparency, ensuring the protection of rights of the populace or affected persons and ensuring inclusive, active participation in decision making processes including policy cycles.
In 2011, The Sierra Leone Program seeks to position itself strategically to ensure effective interventions in issues of concern and importance to sustaining the peace, consolidating democracy and promoting inclusive participation. National elections – Presidential and Parliamentary and Local Government are slated for 2012. These elections are perceived as testers for the state of democracy and peace in the country. The Sierra Leone Program will facilitate the engagement of civil society in the elections process by the creation of a neutral platform of non-state actors including the media to engage the relevant electoral bodies, institutions and individuals. This will create a platform for build on initiatives targeting the Electoral Monitoring Bodies, security sector and political parties/individuals vying for office.
The Sierra Leone Program will also support the Human Rights Commission in implementing their strategy. The interventions aim to enhance the interaction and networking of the Commission and civil society to implement their laudable mandate in Sierra Leone and also complement the building of capacity of the Commission. Support will also be given to initiatives targeting the implementation of the recommendations of the Truth Commission that had produced a comprehensive report that was largely endorsed as a providing a blue print for addressing the ills of the war, including a National Vision.
The Justice Sector and its vital importance in protecting and promoting rights will be supported with specific reference to departments/sectors that have mandates falling within our vision and strategic interventions.
It is envisaged that OSIWA’s work in Sierra Leone will enhance the capacity of our partners to effectively intervene, engage and participate in governance and decision making processes. With its presence in Sierra Leone, OSIWA will be a hub of information to better inform on issues of concern and help shape the interventions that would yield positive results.