In a project titled, “Strengthening local governance, decentralization and sustainable urban development through territorial approach to local economic development in Sierra Leone”, the European Union (EU) has on Wednesday 16th December 2020 signed a contract amounting to over Le46 billion.
The total worth of the project is €3,904,512.12 of which 95% will be funded by EU while local authorities will provide the remaining 5% (€195,226). The EU approved the proposal after they launched two calls for project proposals which were approved after a rigorous competition from local authorities in sub-Saharan Africa under this call.
The targeted groups are: Port Loko District and City Councils, Kenema City Council, Western Rural Area District Council (Sierra Leone), and the Municipality of Fano (Italy). The final beneficiaries include: the population in urban and peri-urban areas of the targeted districts.
The signing ceremony took place in the conference room of the EU Ambassador at Leicester Peak in Freetown in the presence of local council authorities from different locations. The contract will span for a period of three years, starting from 16th December 2020.
The overall objective of the project is to strengthen the capacity of local authorities to promote the improvement of quality and accessibility of public service, public participation in the formation of national and local policies, poverty reduction, sustainable development, effective and efficient gender sensitive service delivery in Sierra Leone.
Other objectives are as follows; to improve technical and institutional capacity of local authorities to create an enabling environment for inclusive and sustainable citizens participation in local governance and socioeconomic development with increased focus on marginalised and vulnerable community members; to improve living conditions of vulnerable groups through the development of participatory urban plans by local authorities at the city-territory and neighbourhood scale, optimising the response to social, environmental, infrastructural and agricultural production challenge; and improvement of the local economy and employment, supporting inclusive and small medium enterprises (SME) and entrepreneurs through pilot projects linked with environment and waste management.
Head of Cooperation, European Union Delegation to Sierra Leone, Gerald disclosed that during implementation period, a project steering committee will provide, among other things, oversight as well as guidance, etc.
He added that the EU will design a visibility plan which will be in full conformity with their standards.
He noted that EU believes in decentralisation which he said they are treating with utmost seriousness. He encouraged local authorities to liaise with them in respect of what obtains during the course of implementing the project. “It is but fitting that EU knows what obtains within the local councils, for by so doing we will be able to make a case for you to government,” he said.
The Project Manager, European Union Delegation to Sierra Leone, commended local authorities and government for the decentralisation process which she said is ongoing, adding that the project will create a synergy between the EU and the District Councils. “This project will foster effective decentralisation in Sierra Leone and that is why the EU is happy to be key supporters of the decentralisation process in the country,” she furthered.
In his remarks, Chief Administrator (CA), Port Loko District Council, Alhaji Alhaji Bangura, commended the EU for what he described as the beginning of good governance in the country.
He disclosed that the project will capture the protection of the environment, adding that they will ensure that they capacitate their subjects. He promised, on behalf of his colleagues, that they will live up to the expectation of EU and continue to strengthen collaboration with them.
By Sulaiman Karim Sesay