The British Minister for International Development Hon. Douglas Alexander has announced a thirty two million pounds sterling grant for Sierra Leone to boost water and sanitation over a period of five years.
Addressing a press conference at State house over the weekend, Hon Alexandra said that “Sierra Leone has come a very long way since the bad days of the civil war which totally tore the country apart for over 10 years”.
Today he said, Sierra Leone is one of the safest capital city in Africa, adding that the 2007 elections was declared free and fair by international observers and the country is now “judged by many to be a model for the rest of Africa”.
Hon. Douglas Alexandra pointed out that now the UK is “strengthening the ties” between the two countries “and today we are the largest bilateral donors and I recognized as we have already heard that there are so many challenges facing this country particularly in the area of economic development”.
The country he maintained needs to continue to grow and young people to find employment. You also have the challenges of tackling some of the worst child health statistics in the world, – indeed it gives me no pleasure to recall that according to the latest United Nations Human Development Index Sierra Leone has dropped to the bottom place.
That bottom place is the heavy responsibilities on all of us the international community, the government of Sierra Leone and the people of Sierra Leone to work together to improve those healthy progress he noted.
Hon Alexandra said that “the United Kingdom for its part is committed to helping Sierra Leone tackling these challenges and that is why I wish to announce a new 32 Million pounds water and sanitation programme for the coming five years”.
He said that the money will go a long way to addressing the needs of the country for better access to water and sanitation, adding that “we look forward to continue to work with the government of Sierra Leone with the considerable challenges that Sierra Leone face”.
Douglas said he intends to visit Makeni and the Bumbuna Hydro Project as well as visiting key government officials and local and international partners with government
Earlier on in his statement President Ernest Bai Koroma welcomed Hon Douglas Alexandra and his team to Sierra Leone noting that Britain has been our greatest supporters, while also thanking them for the support given to us during our most difficult period.
He stated further, “they supported us to conclude the war and they supported us on our humanitarian stabilization period, they supported us in building up our country again, building our institutions, strengthening our capacity and esteem in our moment of going into real economic development.
“I believe Britain have been great friends great supporters and during our visits to the United Kingdom you ( Hon. Alexandra) accorded us the opportunity to present our case to the United Kingdom which I believed was well received.”
“We came back very hopeful and very determined to continue to do the work that will make the life of the Sierra Leoneans better because we know that indeed there is a friend out there who is prepared to give us support.”
President Koroma told the Department For International Development (DFID) Minister that “I know that it is becoming a bit heavy on your side… because demands are increasing we have been given support but because of what I referred to as the expectations of our people resulting for their democratic participations they are asking for more.” Expectations the President disclosed are high and we also go out there whilst thanking you we also ask for more support and therefore there is a need for you to broaden the base of your support and we believe that with the kind of determination that has been showed by the government you will continuously give us your support.
The head of State noted that “I will make a commitment that the support will not be misplaced. What is expected of us by way of bench marks will be met by us and to ensure that by the end of the day you can give justification to your tax payers for the support that is given to us and we in turn as a government will end up making the life of Sierra Leoneans better than it is now”.
By Abibatu Kamara