A tale of squandered opportunities: Sierra LeonePublished by MAC on 2003-09-15
A tale of squandered opportunities: Sierra Leone
Sierra Leone is emerging from a devastating war over ownership of its mineral resoures. The National Movement for Justice and Development (a member of the Mines and Communities network) has been central to new strategies for poverty alleviation, democratic governance, fiduciary transparency and civil equity. At a recent conference on these issues, the Diamond Areas Community Development Fund was expanded into the National Action Coalition on Extractives, to address the challenges of the country's rutile and bauxite mining.
The following report contains a description of recent operations by Sierra Rutile Ltd, now owned by the notorious "diamond czar", Jean-Raymond Boulle and US Titanium LLC, backed by the World Bank and the US Overseas Private Investment Coropration (OPIC). The article graphically describes continued abuses by Sierra Rutile, including intimidation by armed guards, removal of people from their land, and environmental despoliation.
The Network - A bimonthly newsletter by Network Movement for Justice and Development (NMJD) in Sierra Leone
September 2003 Edition
Editorial - a tale of squandered opportunities
Sierra Leone has everything that could make a nation great, and its people prosperous. The country is endowed with a variety of rich mineral, agricultural and marine resources, coupled with the blessing of having one of the youngest populations in the world. But in spite of all these endowments, Sierra Leone still remains a tale of wretchedness and hopelessness.
According to the World Bank Discussion Paper No. 347, Sierra Leone is one of the worlds poorest and least healthy countries in the world. All the indicators in the health sector are extremely poor with a life expectancy of 39 years, 89 percent of the women population estimated to be illiterate and infant mortality standing at 164 per 1000 live births.
Sierra Leone Ascended the Independence podium in 1961 a proud and satisfied nation; in fact it was the envy of sister countries in Africa and elsewhere. But in less than a decade after the colonial masters had packed and gone, all the structures that they left behind began a rapid decline; everything crumbled like a pack of cards under the heavy weight of bad governance and increasingly corrupt administrations. The security forces, especially the Army and Police, were successfully corrupted and politicized.
Great minds who had the burning desire to improve the lot of their compatriots were forced to flee the country for dear life, while those who dared stay behind to fight the cause of the people were hurriedly hounded into their graves using trump-up treason charges and professional witnesses. This was how the likes of Ibrahim Taqi, Mohamed Sorie Fornah and Alimamy Khazali were wiped from the face of this earth.
The opportunity to reverse this trend presented itself in 1992 with the coming to power of young military officers after the overthrow of the APC government. Though the action of the young officers was undemocratic and unconstitutional; it never the less received wide acclaim among Sierra Leoneans at home and in the Diaspora. This was due to the fact that the people saw in the new junta administration the rare opportunity to clean the nations messy political stable and put the country on the road to economic prosperity once again.
All the initial bright ideas and aspirations of these officers were soon eclipsed by the manipulations of the politicians whom they brought in as advisers. Instead of helping the young guys (and indeed the entire nation) to actualize their dream, they embarked on pursuing personal political agendas. Today, they are the biggest beneficiaries of the sacrifices, which the military boys and other well meaning Sierra Leoneans made in 1992, while the country becomes the biggest loser.
We are again on the verge of squandering another golden opportunity, which the end of the ten-year brutal war has presented to us. Since 1999 when the RUF rebels bulldozed their way to the capital city, Freetown, and committed unprecedented atrocities against innocent and defenseless civilians, the focus of the international community and donor agencies has been on Sierra Leone. Donor meetings were convened in Western capitals to raise funds for our badly bruised country. Some people refer to this attention as the peace dividend. The situation was further enhanced with Sierra Leone qualifying for the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative after it reached decision point in 2001.
But execpt for the successful disarmament of combatants, we have little to show for all the millions of leones that has been poured into the country, with regards to the impact it has created on the standard of living of the average Sierra Leone the roads are deplorable, the education system is bedeviled with problems, the health sector is bleeding, public infrastructure in shambles, the recovery programmes are spiced with allegations of corruption etc, while those in positions of authority continue to have a field day on the nations resources. And as the focus of the international community is now being shifted to Liberia, it is very likely that Sierra Leoneans will once again have to painfully write another sad story of squandered opportunity. When will the next opportunity come our way?
None is Poor by Choice says Abu Brima
This is a statement delivered by the National Coordinator of the Network Movement for Justice and Development, Mr. Abu A. Brima, at the official opening of the National Sensitization and Capacity Building Workshop on the PRSP in the Northern headquarter town of Makeni. He made similar statements in other parts of the country.
Emerging from the ten-year brutal war with an unenviable record of being at the bottom of the UNDP Human Development Index reports for at least the last five years, Sierra Leone we are told has qualified for the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) debt repayment initiative and is in the process of developing a country programme aimed at alleviating poverty and promoting good governance at all levels.
In this regard therefore, an Interim Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper was developed for the years 2000-2002 by the government of Sierra Leone. An assessment of this interim programme by the World Bank and related financial institutions resulted in Sierra Leone qualifying for the development of the full Poverty Reduction Strategy Programme (PRPS) to be completed in June next year to be implemented in the next 3-5 years.
The PRSP is very important to the people of this country but especially the Northern province (which has a very high poverty record) of which Bombali is not only part of but also the seat of power for the entire North. The north is less endowed with mineral resources with less infrastructural investment and perhaps the region with the least available opportunities socially, economically, educationally coupled with serious political differences and manipulation. Need I say that these are not only serious signs of a desperate situation but also a condition imposed by political miscalculations and misdirected development agendas of past governments?
Today, in the development of the PRSP, we have not only an opportunity but a great challenge because it attempts at developing strategies to reduce poverty and lay the foundation for long-term development among Sierra Leoneans. This is our moment; we must take advantage of it. But we must not forget that in spite of the relevance and importance of the document (IPRSP) to the very survival of Sierra Leoneans, their participation in its development left a lot to be desired. So, we do not have to leave anything to chance, hence the PRSP development demands that we take active part at all levels.
It is from this background that we in NMJD feel urged in collaboration with our partners like UNDP and others to raise awareness and increase the knowledge base of the vast majority of the people of Sierra Leone about the background, content, rationale, strategies and implementation schedule/mechanisms (processes and structures) of the PRSP so that they are able to take direct and active part in the entire process. And if the PRSP is to create the intended impact, then the people of Sierra Leone should actively participate at all levels of the process from the development of the document itself right through to its implementation, monitoring of the implementation and evaluating the outcome and impact.
In the development of the PRSP, a major element will be the understanding of what it means to be poor as experienced by the poor themselves and developing a poverty agenda. It is evident that poverty in Sierra Leone is a serious social, economic and political condition in which the poor have insufficient feeding, ill-health, illiteracy, lack of access to safe drinking water, inadequate housing as well as lack of equality of opportunity and access to information and powerlessness. Poverty has become a social crisis of huge proportions, denying the majority of the people a decent standard of living. But the poor as well as their children and dependants are Sierra Leoneans.
They are no less Sierra Leoneans than the politicians in positions of authority, business tycoons and all the respectable local government officials who fail to address their problems at national levels and yet quick to collect housing rent and other benefits/charges. Most of the poor are law-abiding citizens who only hope that those who govern them will try and solve their problems. None is poor by choice. Many are born in poverty stricken families and have little or no choice to get out of poverty.
The problems of the poor cannot merely be wished away by those in positions of responsibility, as has been the case in many decades in this country. Rather, their condition and problems require urgent and practical steps to address not only the immediate causes of poverty but its fundamental causes as well. In effect, eradicating poverty in Sierra Leone would require, as it demands, an enabling environment, political will and a national policy framework like the PRSP that is now being developed.
Under the Sierra Leone HIPC initiative, financial savings accruing to the country will be used to support programmes and projects approved within the context of the Sierra Leone Poverty Reduction Strategy (SLPRSP). Civil society is expected to be actively involved in both the preparation and implementation of the SLPRSP. The participation of civil society in especially, its development and implementation will ensure that the poor for whom the policy is intended do actually benefit from it. By civil society participation the goals of economic growth and poverty reduction will also be achieved.
The goal of this programme today around the PRSP is to enhance the impact of the Sierra Leone Poverty Reduction Strategy (SLPRS) on the livelihood, social security situation (including food security and stable income) and welfare needs (health, education and water etc.) of the resource poor people of this country. It seeks to achieve this by bringing together people from all works of life, from the formal and informal sectors, from all the urban and rural communities to input into the process directly.
As a follow-up to this first step we also seek to strengthen the capacity of civil society organisations, (in particular, development NGOs, womens groups and faith-based organisations) working with farmers, fishermen, youth, women, children and other disadvantaged groups to plan and carry out participatory monitoring and evaluation of poverty reduction projects.
To achieve this goal of assisting to achieve poverty reduction, the Sierra Leone PRSP/HIPC Watch Project (as an initial name) will pursue the following objectives. It will:-
- Build awareness of CSOs on the Sierra Leone Poverty Reduction Strategy (SLPRS) with the aim of mobilizing district-based development NGOs, faith-based organisations, women and youth groups to actively participate in and contribute towards policy making on poverty reduction strategies and programmes.
- Establish and strengthen the participatory monitoring capacity of a number of development NGOs, civil society groups and faith-based organisations so that they can collaborate with NMJD to carry out participatory monitoring and evaluation of the impact of SLPRS on the livelihood, security and welfare needs of the poor in all districts in Sierra Leone.
- Strengthen the partnership between the district assemblies/systems and CSOs in the implementation of the SLPRS in the districts in the country; the emphasis of the partnerships will be to promote CSOs-DAs monitoring and evaluation of the impact of the SLPRS on women, children, farmers and youth.
- It will collate data, synthesize and analyze them from the target districts assemblies on the impact of the use of HIPC Funds and disseminate the findings to policy-makers and the general public through the HIPC Watch Update (Newspaper), media briefings, The Network and other newsletters for advocacy purpose whose goal is to improve the policy-making and administrative environment regarding poverty reduction strategies and programmes.
Engaging civil society in the entire PRSP and HIPC processes is intended to address three critical issues including:
Governance refers to a system whereby, for example, a District or Chiefdom Assembly consults the citizens through their respective groups in public policy making and implementation, and empowers them to make inputs into such processes. Such a system makes political leaders like the District Officers and Assembly Representatives responsive to citizens needs, and ensures the success of the governments poverty reduction programme as set out in the SLPRS document.
Government raises money for development either through taxation or from abroad in the name of the people. HIPC funds are moneys government receives from the donor community under the HIPC initiative. Such moneys are to relieve the government of Sierra Leone from paying the principal and interest on debts the country owes to donors.
They are given to enable the government to reduce poverty in the country, especially poverty among people in rural communities as well as vulnerable groups.
HIPC funds are public moneys and must be used accordingly to lessen debt burden. It is therefore the duty of all citizens to ensure that such funds are accounted for properly. It is also the right of the citizens to make sure that such public funds are used properly. Accountability is about ensuring that political and administrative officials use and account for public funds properly.
Information about how much monies are received by political and administrative officials, and what the moneys are used for, how and why, is extremely important for ensuring accountability. It is therefore important for citizens to get information regularly about HIPC funds: how much is received from time to time, how the money is used, on what projects it is used, why such projects were selected for funding, and who benefit from the projects on which the funds are used.
Transparency (which is openness) promotes accountability. Therefore there must be openness, close cooperation and agreement between political and administrative officials on the one hand, and citizens on the other, especially so that political and administrative officials will share relevant information with citizens in a timely manner.
A major incentive for decentralization is the possibility it provides for ensuring equitable distribution of national resources throughout the country. Good governance ensures equity at the District level. Equity in the allocation of HIPC funds can be achieved at various levels: spatially among the various geographical parts/towns and villages of the District, socially among various social groups (e.g. women, the youth, children, the destitute, HIV/AIDS patients, the physically challenged, and ethnic groups where the district is multi-ethnic); and by occupation or professional groups farmers, fishermen, traders, the unemployed; and so on.
This workshop today is the second organized by NMJD in collaboration with UNDP and more will be organized all over the country to inform, encourage, challenge and enable all Sierra Leoneans to not only be part of and input into the PRSP but also to make sure that its implementation is effective and impacts positively on the poor for whom the programme is meant. Already many organisations and individuals had volunteered to serve as Task Team members ready to do all they can to mobilize, sensitize and facilitate a process of building a civil society coalition that will ensure that the Sierra Leone poverty programme will be the peoples agenda and that its implementation will be closely guarded by civil society to ensure that it addresses the needs and aspirations of the people that are poor and vulnerable.
Road Travel Has Become A Big Risk
There are uncountable recklessly abandoned pits in the diamondiferous areas of Kono District [with an impact on travel. Take the] major road linking Sierra Leone to her neighbours, and also the road leading to the Eastern town of Kailahun - home of President Alhaji Ahmed Tejan Kabbahs senior adviser and chairman of the ruling Sierra Leone Peoples Party, Dr Sama S. Banya and Information and Broadcasting Minister, Professor Septimus Kaikai.
This rugged and bumpy road has not only become a death trap, but has also made the movement of people and goods from one point to another a risky venture to undertake. The resultant effect is that the spate of smuggling of agricultural produce out of the country has increased ten-fold thereby depriving the country of much needed revenue in taxes. The people too lose huge sums of money every harvest season because of the inability to take their produce to the markets on time for sale - those who are strong enough to carry theirs on their heads and walk long distances prefer to cross over the border to sell their produce.
Reports reaching us as at press time said that some parts of the road have finally caved in thereby creating a cur-off. Now the people in that part of the country have been disconnected from the rest of their compatriots, at least by road. And this will definitely spell suffering occasioned by scarcity and spiraling prices of basic commodities and foodstuffs.
But you know what, the Kailahun road is not the only deplorable road in the country. Over 99.9 percent of roads in the country are in a terribly poor shape; some are even worse off. It is true that government has many problems to address in the areas of rehabilitation and reconstruction, but we are with the strongest conviction that communication is crucial to the realization of a successful recovery programme. It is in this light that we are urging government to make giving roads, trunk and feeder, a facelift one of its top concerns.
NMJD Concludes Nationwide Sensitization on the PRSP
The Network Movement for Justice and Development (NMJD), in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Poverty Alleviation Strategy Coordinating Office (PASCO), has ended a three-phased national sensitization and capacity building workshops on the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP). The exercise was conducted in the 14 administrative districts of the country, bringing together a total of about one thousand people drawn mainly from pro-poor civil society groups in all of the 149 chiefdoms and the Western Area.
The main focus of the workshops was to sensitize communities and civil society organisations about the PRSP, which the government of Sierra Leone, with support from its development partners, is in the process of developing. The workshops were also intended to expose participants to basic advocacy and lobbying skills to enable them advocate effectively around issues of poverty reduction, economic growth and human development.
As of February 2001, Sierra Leone was (and still is) one of the 41 highly indebted poor countries of the world with unsustainable external debts thereby making it a worthy candidate for the HIPC Initiative. The HIPC debt relief initiative, though a strategy of the World Bank and other donor institutions, had its roots from the campaign mounted by civil society organisations around the World for the cancellation of debts owed by developing countries.
This initiative is meant to tighten the link between debt relief and poverty reduction. This is why beneficiary countries of the HIPC debt relief Initiative are expected in return to commit themselves to developing and implementing policies that will promote sound economic management and human development. The debate had been raging over the years that debt servicing by poor countries was a big hindrance to providing services in the social sector such as education and health.
Sierra Leone reached the decision point after it developed the I-PRSP in 2001, an exercise that qualified it for the HIPC initiative. The I-PRSP was done in haste because of the prevailing circumstances at the time, so there was not much consultation with the people. Under the HIPC debt relief initiative, a lot of projects and programmes in the areas of security, the economy and social sector development have received and continue to receive huge funding.
Some of these programmes have contributed immensely to addressing the wretched condition of the people, while others completely failed to make the difference. The reason for the dismal failure of others is generally attributed to unbridled corruption, which sees those in position of authority enriching themselves at the expense of public projects. The exclusion of the target beneficiaries from identifying and prioritizing their needs has also been identified as a big impediment to success.
In the area of corruption, the general concern has to do with the poor performance of contractors whose products are of sub-standard, due mainly to the fact that most of the monies meant for these projects go into private pockets Of equal concern also is the practice of those charged with the responsibility of awarding contracts demanding kick-backs or commissions from contractors thereby reducing the whole process to a business of the highest bidder carrying the day.
Sierra Leones qualification in 2001 for the HIPC Initiative also requires it to prepare the full PRSP which should outline in detail the countrys strategies as well as articulating its plans to reduce poverty. The acceptance of the PRSP by the World Bank and other donor institutions will very much depend on the participation of the general citizenry in its preparation because one of the core principles of any PRSP is country-led/owned based on broad-based participation. The workshops were one big move towards encouraging civil society to not only input into the document, but also to own the process and be part of it.
A lot of institutions are involved in the preparation of the PRSP, key among them are the World Bank, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Department for International Development (DFID), PASCO, Ministries of Finance and Development and Economic Planning.
As a show of commitment to the fight against poverty, participants have formed voluntary task teams in all the districts to ensure maximum civil society participation in the formulation, development, implementation and monitoring of the PRS process and HIPC-funded projects.
It is therefore our sincere hope that the experiences and concerns raised by the people across the country will be factored in to the full PRSP.
PC Pewa Leads the Way for his People
Prince Mambu Pewa was elected Paramount Chief of Langurama Chiefdom, Kenema District, in December 2002 after serving the Sierra Leone Police Force for three decades. During his service in the Police Force, P.C. Pewa saw the good, bad and ugly things of public life, and in some instances, he himself became a direct victim of the rotten system that was (and still is) in operation in the country. But he never wavered, and never relented in ensuring that he served his people to the best of his ability.
On assuming his new role as Paramount Chief, PC Pewa was quick to put his experiences at work for the rapid development of his people and the Langurama chiefdom. As a police officer of 30 years standing, PC Pewa does not need somebody to tell him that corruption is indisputably the biggest impediment to national development. He himself acknowledges the fact that unless corruption in all its forms is addressed with sincerity of purpose and unwavering commitment, no amount of aid can save Sierra Leone from degenerating further.
It is against this background that PC Pewa has declared war on corruption. He intends to make Langurama chiefdom a corrupt-free society. It is a tall order by every stretch of the imagination, and PC Pewa equally knows that. But he also knows how to react his destination and in less than one year in office, the signs are very encouraging. He has made magnificent strides to see his dream come true. This has made him to stand out clearly as a role model for other chiefs across the country to emulate.
PC Pewa has many a time had to serve quit notices to NGOs he suspected of using the unfortunate situation of his people to enrich themselves. Unlike other chiefs who are accused by their subjects of conniving with NGOS and rogue contractors to embezzle resources meant for community development, he is always literally on the throats of rogue NGOs and contractors to ensure that they do proper work.
Hear him: I scrupulously monitor every project that is being implemented in my chiefdom. I also take active part in the work; at some stages I have to take over as a mason, at other stages as a carpenter or storekeeper. All this is to ensure that nothing is pilfered with, and that we get the best out of what is made available to us.
Also, in order to ensure food security in his chiefdom, PC Pewa and his people have resolved not to allow anybody to buy and take rice (the staple food) out of the chiefdom. This has paid instant dividend as evidenced by the stable price of rice even at this time of the year when other chiefdoms are buying rice at cut-throat prices.
However, not all is a bed of roses for PC Pewa and his people. The road leading to his chiefdom, like others in the country, is deplorable and virtually unmotorable during the rainy season. This has greatly affected the earnings of his people who solely depend on agriculture for their livelihood. Vehicles ply the road once every week; farmers therefore have to tote their produce and trek some 20 miles on foot to sell them those who cannot undertake this hellish exercise have no option but to painfully watch their produce rot.
DACDF Coalition Broadens Mandate
After over 70 years of diamond mining in Sierra Leone, the Diamond Area Community Development Fund (DACDF) was introduced in 2001 to foster development in mining communities and to provide them (mining communities) incentives to assist the Mines Ministry curb the ever-elusive issues of illicit mining and smuggling. Government introduced the scheme following tremendous pressure from civil society organisations working on the Just Mining Campaign in Sierra Leone initiated and spearheaded by the Network Movement for Justice and Development (NMJD) and supported by local and international partners.
By Morlai Kamara
What came to be known as the DACDF Coalition comprises civil society/NGOs and government line ministries. Its membership includes Action Aid-Sierra Leone, Anti-Corruption Commission, Catholic Relief Services, Network Movement for Justice and Development, World Vision, Sierra Leone Indigenous Miners Movement, the Ministries of Mineral Resources and Local Government and Community Development. The Coalition was formed for the expressed purpose of ensuring that communities use DACDF to promote community development initiatives, and also to promote transparent and democratic values in the management of community resources.
Since the establishment of the Fund in 2001, the Coalition had been working with beneficiary chiefdoms of he Fund and has used three thematic approaches sensitization, empowerment of community structures through training and policy analysis. Funding for the activities of the Coalition was provided by USAID through Management Systems International (MSI).
August 21-22 witnessed the Coalitions first strategic planning meeting that took place at the National Pastoral and Social Development Centre in Kenema. For two days Coalition members, in the presence of funders, MSI and UNDP, reviewed its past activities and assessed the lessons learned from them. More important was the fact that Coalitions members used the forum to strategically think about the way forward in terms of scope, visionary direction, and partnerships, funding possibilities and also to further examine the Coalitions role in the newly created Peace Diamond Alliance in Kono.
At the end of the session, the Coalition changed its name to the National Advocacy Coalition on Extractives and correspondingly broadened its mandate to cover other minerals like Rutile, bauxite and even oil. This new approach is borne out of the need to maximize justice and increase national benefit from the countrys mineral wealth.
A working committee was also established to develop bye-laws for the National Advocacy Coalition on Extractives. The bye-laws are expected to be clear on membership, the role of coordinating agencies and shall propose new government departments to be involved in the Coalition.
NMJD Staff Return From Ghana
NMJD has taken the lead in ensuring active civil society participation in the development, implementation and monitoring of the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper of Sierra Leone. It has already, in collaboration with the UNDP and PASCO, organized nation-wide district level sensitization of civil society groups and the poor on the content of the Interim Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper.
In preparation for the long-term engagement in the PRS Process, NMJD sent two of its programme staff (Ms Josephine Kenneh and Morlai Kamara) to participate in a training programme in Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation (PME) for HIPC-funded programmes in the northern regional headquarter town of Tamale, Ghana from 2-5 July 2003.
The training was organized by SEND Foundation, a leading NGO working on the Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (GPRSP), and one that also leads a coalition of civil society groups monitoring HIPC-funded projects in the northern region of Ghana. Participants were also drawn from civil society groups in Ghana.
The exercise was climaxed by the launching of a PME Manual for the GPRSP. Participants were also trained in the use of the Manual. The key monitoring indicators considered are transparency, equity and accountability. In Ghana, CSOs are at the stage of monitoring the HIPC and the first review meeting is scheduled for September 2003.
Peace Building Information Sharing Workshop Ends in Kenya
Many countries in Africa today have come to terms with the reality that peace building is an integral part of development work and should therefore be mainstreamed into national development agendas. The approaches and methodologies used may vary from one country to another, so also are the challenges that unfold along the way. Even within the same country people in peace building face different challenges, thus the need for those working in peace building and development to come together from time to time to share experiences and map out new strategies to address the emerging challenges.
by Sheku Dickson Koroma
It was against this background that Christian Aid engaged the services of two trainers last year to carry out a joint impact assessment in Kenya and Sierra Leone. One of the outcomes of that exercise was the holding of an experience-sharing workshop in Nairobi, Kenya, from March 19-21, 2003 in which two of NMJDs programme officers (Paul Lansana Koroma and Sheku Dickson Koroma) participated actively.
Other organisations from Sierra Leone taking part in the workshop included the Methodist Church of Sierra Leone (MCSL) and the Sulima Fishing Community Development Project (SFCDP) while the Kenyan participants were drawn from the National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK), Northern Aid (NA) and Amani Peoples Theatre (APT)
The workshop focused mainly on the development of key principles for effective peace building, the challenges involved and how to assess the positive difference in conflict situations. The workshop aimed at deepening participants understanding of peace building and conflict transformation, exploring key principles of peace building, sharpening their skills for conflict identification and analysis and identifying linkages between local level initiatives and their contributions to positive change in the broader context.
In order to achieve their set objectives, the organizers designed an all-inclusive programme that sought to address a number of issues including the people, the process, peace and conflict, analysis and interventions, identifying and addressing challenges, etc.
Each participating organisation made a presentation on their work especially in the area of peace building - explaining the context within which their programmes operate, what the programmes are trying to achieve, the strategies used, the activities carried out and the main challenges facing the programmes and the organisation. These presentations, which generated a lot of discussions, helped to enrich the experience-sharing sessions.
At the end of NMJDs presentation, the organizers and the rest of the participants sought clarification on whether NMJD have professional counselors to handle trauma situations, how sensitive issues are handled, why the peace activities of the organisation do not cover the whole country and why there is huge success in some areas but not in other areas. All this was meant to encourage NMJD, whose work they highly lauded, to consider exploring new frontiers to cover the entire country.
In order to foster lasting partnership, participants agreed on pursuing exchange programmes in a sort of twinning arrangement wherein NMJD will work with their Kenyan counterparts-Amani Peoples Theatre (APT) and MCSL with NCCK. NCCK and APT should also explore ways of working together with Northern Aid to help open North Eastern Kenya to NCCK and APT.
The workshop was climaxed by a field visit to Northern Kenya where cattle rustling is the cause of a long-standing conflict between the Pokots Tukanis and Maraknettes. The trip proved very useful especially for participants from Sierra Leone.
NMJD, DFID Organize Budget Advocacy Workshop
The Deputy Minister of Finance, Mr. Foday B.L. Mansaray, has assured participants at a four-day budget analysis and advocacy training workshop for civil society organisations in Sierra Leone that the government is very much committed to sound public expenditure management as evidenced by its emphasis on participation, accountability and transparency. The workshop, which drew participants from all regions of the country, was held at Mamba Point Guest House at Wilberforce from September 14-18, 2003.
Organized by the Network Movement for Justice and Development (NMJD) and funded by the UKs department for International Development (DFID), the workshop aimed at building and enhancing the capacity of civil society organisations for effective engagement with government on development and governance issues like the national budget and the Poverty Reduction Strategy process in Sierra Leone. This is to ensure that civil society participation and involvement in the countrys post-war recovery and development is maximized.
Minister Mansaray reiterated the difficulty involved in budget preparation, especially for countries like Sierra Leone where there are Limited resources to finance numerous and diverse activities. He said it is against this background that the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) which aims at encouraging line ministries to prioritize their activities over a number of years within the given resource envelope was introduced.
He further noted that in order to promote transparency and participation, government has in the past two years been creating room for communities and civil society to take part in the budget process through the annual budget discussions sessions and the budget oversight committees.
Earlier in his welcome address, the National Coordinator of Network Movement for Justice and Development, Mr. Abu A. Brima said that the four days scheduled for the workshop may not be enough but it is the beginning of a long road, and hoped that it will wet the appetite of the civil society. He noted that the exercise is not only momentous for the civil society, but also for the donors who have be pouring money into the country but with very little to show for it.
He challenged participants to continue to work relentlessly to have a budget that is developed, implemented and monitored by the people a budget that will impact positively on the lives of the people.
Statements were also made by Mr. Sam Musa of Action Aid Sierra Leone and DFID representative. Mr. Melvin Tucker, Deputy Governor of the Bank of Sierra Leone chaired the ceremony
Among topics discussed at the workshop were the following: Revenue expenditure and deficit, the stages of the budget process, principles of good budgeting, the objectives of public expenditure management, overview of civil society budget work, getting started with budget work, engaging with policy makers, linking the PRPS and the budget, the techniques of quantitative budget analysis.
Chronicle of Corporate Exploitation: the Sierra Rutile Experience
Rutile mining activities, which started at Gbangbama in the Impere Chiefdom, Bonthe District, in 1954 has far reaching environmental and socio-economic impacts. Rutile is mined by dredging thereby creating large artificial lakes behind constructed laterite dams. Sierra Rutile Limited (the company that mines the Rutile) estimates put the area under water at 6,400 acres (5% of the companys lease area) although visual estimates put the area directly affected by mining at 200, 000 acres.
by Leslie Mboka
The main impacts of dredge extraction in the mining areas have been the relocation of villages leading to reduced subsistence resource base and the disruption of traditional land use practices, land degradation, flooding and pollution with associated health risks. Water-related diseases are very common in the host mining communities as a result of artificial lakes left behind after dredging.
Rutile mining activities, instead of creating wealth for the host communities and landowners, have rather undermined the local economies and pauperized the affected communities. Originally, the inhabitants of the host communities largely depended on subsistence farming for their livelihood, but Rutile mining activities have spoiled the most productive lands for agricultural activities.
This ugly trend has created food insecurity for the host communities. Cash crops such as coffee, cocoa, oil palm, etc, have been completely destroyed without meaningful compensations to crop owners. The problem of land shortage has also led to social tension between the host mining communities and Sierra Rutile Limited. A case in point was an incident on February 5, 2003 when a group of farmers were held at gunpoint on the allegation that they were farming within the companys lease area. They were arrested at gunpoint, tied, forced to look at the suns rays and subsequently caged in a container.
Sierra Rutile Limited is the only corporate entity that still maintains its own private armed reaction force even after the conclusion of disarmament in Sierra Leone in January 2002. This private corporate military force is fully dressed in military uniform and armed to the teeth and very hostile to the host communities who are still traumatized after a decade of armed conflict. The government of Sierra Leone is turning a blind eye to these corporate crimes and human rights abuses.
In the recent agreement which the government signed with Sierra Rutile Limited, there is provision for the company to import arms and ammunition into Sierra Leone and also to maintain its own private army and to use such arms and ammunition as they deem fit. SRL is also the only company in post-war Sierra Leone that still runs a mercenary outfit. This is a clear indication of state delegitimisation, the surrendering of state powers to powerful private actors.
As at the time of writing this piece, 11 villages have been demolished and relocated with an estimated population of 5,300 inhabitants. Consultants to Sierra Rutile Limited have confirmed that some villages were settled in places where basic community needs such portable water supply and farmlands were grossly inadequate and where general sanitation in the new settlements is critical. The damage done to the original ecosystem will be irreversible.
Even more serious is the fact that the Government of Sierra Leone, under the leadership of President Ahmed Tejan Kabba signed a mining agreement with Sierra Rutile Limited without the participation of the landowners who are adversely affected by the activities of the company. The Community Advocacy and Development Project (CADEP), an advocacy and development organisation views this move as undemocratic and inimical to the interest of the mining communities, and therefore calls on the SLPP government to review that agreement with the active participation of the landowners who are also a major stakeholder in the Rutile mining business.
In a democratic dispensation, the peoples participation in making decisions that profoundly affect their lives is pertinent to ensure transparency, accountability and good governance. The ship of state has not been moving in that direction though. The political class must understand that government policies that do not reflect the wishes and aspirations of the governed are bound to collapse as soon that particular regime departs the political theatre.
The issue of Rutile mining in Bonthe and Moyamba districts is a story of unmitigated exploitation. The legacy of decades of mining is abject poverty and diseases, coupled with unspeakable ecological disaster. Two communities, Mobelmo and Mosama were completely destroyed in a flooding incident. In August, 2003, serious flooding occurred in the mining areas as result of dam overflow. Dozens of farms were affected.
With relative stability now in Sierra Leone, plans are far advanced to recommence Rutile mining operations. The recommencement of Rutile mining will further deepen the negative impacts of mining on the lives of the people. However, CADEP, NMJD, CRS and other like-minded organisations are now working doggedly to address these corporate excesses laced with state complicity.
Peace Building in Post-War Sierra Leone: Experiences of a Social Worker
There are no universal definitions on the concepts of peace building and conflict transformation. However, peace building is a relation building process. Peace building should also entail building positive structures and new institutions, and should address issues of human rights, childrens rights and gender equity.
by Sheku Dickson Koroma
Peace building explicitly deals with peace by focusing on the identification, alleviation or elimination of the underlying causes of violent conflict; and it is a social and associative process that works towards rebuilding fractured relationships between and among people. Peace building and conflict transformation can therefore be hardly separated.
Conflict transformation is a holistic and multifaceted process of engaging with conflict. It aims at reducing violence and bringing about sustainable justice and peace. It requires work in all spheres at all levels and with all stakeholders. Conflict transformation and peace building are basically the same in meaning and nature.
The Network Movement for Justice and Development, a national non-governmental organisation, which among other things, aims at achieving sustainable peace in Sierra Leone, has as its cross-cutting issues gender, peace building and empowerment.
The organisation has been very much active working with grassroots communities in the Western Area, Bo, Kenema and Kono districts in peace building and conflict transformation. The bulk of the work is focused on training of trauma counselors, training of trainers in conflict resolution, facilitating communities to build physical structures like schools, peace centres, womens centres, grain stores and drying floors, community sensitization and campaign for just mining. As of May 2001, a total of 133 peace promoters had been trained in NMJD operational areas.
These peace promoters return to their various communities where they are now helping to identify the conflict points and working together to resolve conflicts within families and neighbours. 68 out of the 133 peace promoters were further trained in 2002 in conflict resolution so as to empower them to replicate similar activities in their communities. As a result, peace sessions are now being conducted in NMJD operational communities on a regular monthly basis. These sessions were organized by the peace promoters and jointly facilitated by NMJD animators and the peace promoters themselves. The peace promoters have also been engaged in exchange visits during which they share experiences.
All these efforts have led to the establishment of a network of peace promoters in the Southern and Eastern regions who are now in constant touch with each other. But what impact have these activities/interventions created so far?
The impact, though varies from community to community, is generally great and encouraging. In small Bo for instance, cases reaching the courts have not only reduced drastically, but also relationships between and among the people have strengthened. The same goes for the other communities where NMJD operates its peace building programmes. In most of these communities also, laws and practices marginalizing against women are gradually been reviewed - women are now consulted on issues affecting their lives and even allowed to own land and other property. This goes side by side with efforts to achieve full food security. Communities establish seed banks as a way of storing rice in readiness for future need and use. Communal labour is once again flourishing making even the weak to own farms.
In Kakua and Bumpeh Ngao chiefdoms revolving loan schemes are initiated at Samabu Folubu and Dasamu communities using farm produce. The aim of these schemes is to help community members to respond to emergencies and it is hoped that these processes will lead to sustainable peace in these communities in particular, and the country as a whole.
It is however important to note that all is not a bed of roses through and through as the activities of peace promoters negatively affect the income of traditional leaders whose revenue mainly comes from court fines. Peace promoters now resolve conflicts in their various communities without the imposition of fines. The chiefs and other traditional leaders resolve conflict by imposing fines on those found guilty. This situation is creating tension between the peace promoters and the authorities, which must never be ignored if sustainable peace is to be achieved in our communities.
Coalition Trains Chiefdom Development Committees
Since the introduction of the DACDF, the Coalition has been monitoring the Fund to ensure it is utilized for the intended purpose as well as for promoting democratic and transparent behaviour in the management of community resources.
Key activities of the Coalition have been sensitizing the beneficiary communities on the sources, rationale, purpose and amount of DACDF money received so far by the chiefdoms, monitoring community projects undertaken and training of members of the Chiefdom Development Committees the real managers of the Fund on finance management, leadership skills, human relationships, needs assessment, mining licensing processes, etc.
Between June and August 2003, the Coalition (NMJD, CRS, the Ministries of Mineral Resources and Local Government and Community Development) undertook the training of CDCs in a total of 15 beneficiary chiefdoms of the DACDF in the Eastern and Southern regions. The training exercise was preceded by the development of selection criteria, which amongst other things included: the presence of a CDC in the chiefdom, the amount of money the chiefdom gets and the number and status of projects undertaken with the DACDF resources. Similar training exercise was done in Barri and Malen chiefdoms in Pujehun district last year.
The training sessions were useful in promoting dialogue between ordinary community people and their chiefdom authorities on an issue that was already beginning to fragment certain communities DACDF money.
Although the training was highly appreciative, it could not cover all the beneficiary chiefdoms mainly because available resources to organise the training for all the chiefdoms limited the coalition.