Sierra Leone is to benefit from a series of investments by UAE-based foundations following the recent visit of Sia Koroma, the first lady of the formerly war-torn country.
The Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan Foundation has agreed to fund the digging of approximately 120 water wells in communities across the West African country, where people face a continuing fight for survival six years after the decade-long civil war ended.
Extreme poverty, high unemployment, rising food prices and desperately high infant and maternal death rates have left the country languishing at the bottom of the UN Human Development Index – 177th out of 177 countries listed.
With the war over and emergencies elsewhere in the world demanding increasing shares of limited international aid, organisations have slowly withdrawn funding from Sierra Leone.
The digging of the wells, which is being co-ordinated by the UN Development Programme (UNDP), will give 48,000 people access to clean, drinkable water for the next 15 to 20 years – an invaluable contribution to stopping the spread of preventable water-borne diseases.
It is believed to be the first time UNDP resources have been mobilised in Sierra Leone by the UAE. The decision followed a foundation workshop, held in May, that brought together members of both organisations, delegates from each UNDP country office and Suzanne Kim Siu from UNDP’s headquarters in New York.