Sierra Leone Telegraph: 15 July 2017
According to Sierra Leone’s State House Communication Unit, last week president Koroma presented what could be his last and final report on what the government refers to as the President’s Recovery Priorities Programme, which was put in place immediately after the end of the Ebola epidemic, with the commitment of over $400 million of international donor funding.
As the programme now comes to an end, there is one simple question that needs to be asked: Has the government achieved its objective – and at what cost?
The objective of the President’s Recovery Priorities Programme was “to improve the lives of millions of ordinary Sierra Leoneans, and to revert to the implementation of the Agenda for Prosperity,” President Koroma told the nation and stakeholders last week, in a speech marking the end of the programme delivery.
The State House Chief of Staff Saidu Conton Sesay said that “the recovery programme was designed and implemented by Sierra Leoneans themselves, so as to drive sustainable socio-economic transformation in Sierra Leone, following the twin shocks of the Ebola outbreak and the fall in iron ore prices”.
According to President Koroma, the recovery programme which lasted for twenty-four months, focused on seven key priority areas, including; education, energy, health, private sector development, social protection, water and governance. He outlined the following achievements of the President’s Delivery Team (PDT).
The president said that government has reduced overcrowding in schools by constructing 225 classrooms around the country, with another 215 on the way. To improve on attendance in primary schools, his government he said, introduced a new system for school feeding which is geared towards the better nourishment and health of 1.2 million primary school children nationwide.
He said that quality lesson plans in core subjects for primary and JSS teachers were developed, and teachers have been trained in using those plans; as well as ensuring that teaching standards are raised and maintained throughout the government school system.
With regards access to electricity, President Koroma spoke about the construction of the 66KV Wellington Express line to ensure that 26, 000 households in the Western Area remain connected to power during upgrades to the local network. Work, he said, continued with the arrival of four custom built transformers earlier this year.
The president said that these would support the objective of doubling operational electricity generation capacity from 75MW to 150MW, which would expand access to about 750, 000 more households.
But according to the Management of the country’s Electricity Distribution and Supply Authority (EDSA), Six hundred Million Leones (Le600million ) is being spent every day on fuel so as to generate 20 Mega Watts of electricity through the thermal plants operated by a Ghanaian company called Aggreko at Blackhall Road and Wellington.
It is also reported that EDSA is paying Billions of Leones a month in contract charges to Aggreko for energy and capacity. The Management of EDSA says that these payments are unsustainable, and that they have been forced by the government to make these payments to Aggreko.
President Koroma spoke of the accessibility of clean water to over one million Sierra Leoneans. He said the Ministry of Water Resources in collaboration with the Education and Health Ministries have constructed and rehabilitated 125 boreholes and 149 water wells in schools, health centres, villages and other communities across the country. The installation of over 2000 more wells and other sources of clean water, he said was underway.
But experts in water engineering have told the Sierra Leone Telegraph that the construction of bore holes and wells is not sustainable, nor is it cost effective in the long-run for Sierra Leone.
The way forward they say, is for the government to invest in rehabilitating the capital’s main source of water – the Guma valley, as well develop other viable water dams such as the Orogu, to provide sustainable pipe borne water services across the country.
Experts estimate that Sierra Leone needs about £500 million investment in developing a viable and cost effective pipe-borne water utility service, and this funding can be sourced through international borrowing.
So has the delivery of the Post-Ebola Recovery Priorities Programme by the government been a success as they claim? And who has been responsible for funding most of the cost of the programme, as the government had ran out of money over two years ago – after severe fall in export revenue and declining taxation receipts?
The British government has been, and is the key funding and delivery partner of the president’s Post-Ebola Recovery Priorities Programme. They have established and are supporting the following programmes at a cost of almost £300 million:
Saving Lives in Sierra Leone 2016 Programme, with a budget of £64,223,612
To save women and children’s lives by improving the quality, availability and accessibility of (reproductive, maternal, new born and child health (RMNCH) services. Phase 1 of this programme will focus on increasing access to preventive services (including family planning, water, sanitation and long lasting insecticide treated bednets) and improving service quality in line with the maternal and child health priorities of the President’s 10-24 Month Recovery Plan.
The second phase will embed and build on the gains of the first phase and will increase equitable access to the improved RMNH services, whilst strengthening priority health systems for more sustainable service delivery.
This programme started in August 2016 and is scheduled to finish at the end of March 2021, with about 19.97% of planned outputs so far achieved.
The programme is being implemented by the Clinton Health Access Initiative, UNFPA, UNICEF, and WHO, with the bulk of the funding spent on improving maternal and administration of the country’s health systems.
Another vital programme being funded by DFID is the ‘Leh Wi Learn – Sierra Leone Secondary Education Improvement’ Programme, costing £62,499,998.
To improve English and mathematics learning achievement in all secondary schools , especially for girls. The programme has the following components: making schools safe for girls, improving learning conditions in schools for boys and girls, strengthening central and district capacity, and improving monitoring and evaluation. In the first two years, the project will be fully aligned with the President’s Recovery Priorities.
Over the five years, the impact will be measured by improvements in the West Africa regional secondary school examinations taken after three years (the basic certificate) and after six years (the senior certificate).
An additional 14,000 girls and boys are expected to pass English and Maths at senior level, with a narrowing of the performance gap between boys and girls. The outcome of the programme will establish an enabling environment for secondary school students, especially girls, to be safe, learn and achieve.
This programme started May 2016, and will end in March 2021, with 24.11% of planned outputs achieved. The programme is being implemented by the International Rescue Committee, UNICEF, and World Vision.
Spending to date is £16,608,780 (26.57%) of the Programme budget of £62,499,998, with 65% of the budget spent in developing and supporting the provision of secondary education.
DFID is funding the ‘Increasing access to electricity in Sierra Leone Programme’ with a total budget of £32,413,796.
So far this programme has spent about £895,384 (2.76%) of the funding. According to DFID, the aim of this programme is to increase access to improved, affordable and sustainable electricity supply for human development and wealth creation in Sierra Leone by 2018, through a combination of interventions supporting hard infrastructure, institutional reform and operational improvement.
Only 10% of households in Sierra Leone have access to electricity, despite electricity provision highlighted as the Koroma government’s top priority in 2007 when it came into power.
The DFID funded programme started on 19 December 2016, and has achieved about 14.01% progress, with a planned end date of 31 December 2020.
The ‘Rehabilitation of Freetown’s Water Supply System Programme’ is perhaps one of the most crucial development programmes currently funded by DFID, as the lack of access to safe, clean drinking water is responsible for more than 50% of all deaths in the country, as well as the poor state of the country’s crippling economy.
DFID says that the aim of the programme is to fast-track expansion of the safe drinking water supply in the capital city, Freetown, through the provision of sanitation and hygiene services, as well as wider WASH in rural areas and expansion of Solid and Liquid Waste Management services in three large towns.
British government is funding the programme with a budget of £37,050,000, and £234,563 (0.63%) has been spent so far. The programme started in June 2016 and should end at the end of April 2019. DFID reports that 37.98% of the programme planned outputs have been achieved.
But allied to the above ‘Rehabilitation of Freetown’s Water Supply System Programme’ is another DFID funded programme, called the ‘Water, Environmental Sanitation and Hygiene Programme’. So what’s the difference, and is this not a duplication or double funding problem?
DFID says that the aim of the ‘Water, Environmental Sanitation and Hygiene Programme’ is to provide sanitation and hygiene services in Freetown; establish and expand sustainable waste management services in three large towns; and improving water, sanitation and hygiene services in rural areas and in two small towns.
British funding budget for this programme is £27,800,000, and so far only £1,018,012 (3.66%) of the budget has been spent.
The programme started in July 2016 and is planned to end at the end of March 2021, with 21.50% of outputs achieved.
The programme is being implemented by the Deutsche Welthungerhilfe, and the OXFAM INSTITUTIONAL INCOME ACCOUNT.
Another programme established by DFID to help support president Koroma’s recovery priorities is the ‘GREAT for Partnership Programme’, with British government funding budget of £35,203,140, of which only £158,934 (0.45%) has so far been spent.
DFID says that the aim of this programme is multiply the UK’s development impact by boosting partnerships between UK’s institutions and their counterparts in the Sierra Leone. It says it will leverage the skills and expertise from a range of UK institutions and supply them initially to DFID partner organisations, based on tailored demand. It will initially prioritise the Extractives, Financial Accountability and Anti-Corruption and Health sectors.
This programme started in August 2016 and will conclude in March 2012, with 19.83% of outputs so far completed.
There is also the ‘Maintaining Resilient Zero for Ebola in Sierra Leone Programme’, with a British budget of £38,499,996. So far, a total of £23,188,017 (60.23%) has been spent.
The programme started in December 2015 and planned to end in December 2017, with 77.31% of outputs achieved so far, and is being implemented by GOAL, the International Rescue Committee and WHO (GENEVA).
Most of the budget for this programme is being spent on infectious disease control and paying for the government’s health ministry administration.
So what exactly has the ruling APC government been doing in office? What have they achieved? It seems that, once again without the generosity of the international community, the people of Sierra Leone would today have been far worse off than they were three years ago.
When history judges the success of the country’s post-Ebola Priorities Programme, it is clear it will say that the APC government failed its people, whilst excelling in corruption, incompetence and poor governance.
This poor record only serves to lend weight to the growing call for a government of national unity in 2018, as it is becoming clearly obvious that no single political party has the capability and capacity to govern Sierra Leone.