The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) online assessment report on Sierra Leone’s progress on the Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s) states that there is great likelihood that Sierra Leone will not meet her targets.
Sierra Leone is among the world’s poorest countries. Decades of economic decline added to twelve years of armed conflict have had dramatic consequences on the economy.
Poverty is widespread with more than 70% of the population living below the poverty line and the country ranks last in the Human Development Index.
Nonetheless, post-conflict economic growth has been robust with real GDP growth between 6%-7% in recent years.
Fiscal and external sector reforms have led to improved financial performance with lower fiscal and external current account deficits, lower domestic borrowing and relatively stable exchange rates.
Politically, progress has been steady with two successful presidential, national and local elections since the end of the conflict.
Despite recent achievements, the progress report on UNDP’s website states “Sierra Leone will not meet its targets for the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) by 2015,” noting that UNDP and other UN agencies supported an MDG needs assessment which gauged the human resources, infrastructure and finances required in twelve priority areas identified by the government: agriculture, education, gender, health, HIV/IDS, the environment, transportation, energy, water and sanitation, science, innovation and technology, private sector development and job creation, and public sector management.
The assessment underlined the importance of economic growth, recommending investment in agriculture, mining, fisheries and tourism and the need for a macro-economic framework and growth strategy. The total cost of investment required from 2007 to 2015 is nearly $19 billion. Given current donor commitments the financing gap is close to $17.6 billion. However, almost 60% of this cost is for infrastructure especially building and maintaining roads, the report states.
UNDP support to the MDG needs assessment and development of Macroeconomic Frameworks has assisted the government in the preparation of the next phase of national development plans, specifically the PRSP 2009-12, with priorities anchored around infrastructure, energy and agricultural development.
Additionally, the UN and the government have taken steps to roll out development information (DEV INFO) as a tool to improve access to data on development to monitor the MDGs. The UN Country Team has mainstreamed the MDGs in the UN Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) for Sierra Leone and the UN Peace Building Commission and Fund have become key tools to mitigate risks that could arrest or reverse progress towards meeting the MDGs.
Importantly, there has been effective leadership by the Government in the MDG needs assessment process. In addition, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, in collaboration with UNDP and NGOs, undertook an MDG awareness campaign through non-formal education centres. This has allowed the general population to engage the government on a more equal footing when discussing the national development agenda.