Sierra Leone Telegraph: 18 October 2020:
After the failure of successive governments of Sierra Leone to convince the US government funded Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) to include Sierra Leone in their short list of African countries that have received hundreds of millions of dollars in grant-aid to help pay for large-scale development projects, last Friday the Chief Executive Officer of the MCC – Sean Cairncross, arrived in Freetown on a two-day visit.
Sean Cairncross met with president Julius Maada Bio at State House where they discussed the country’s progress in delivering the MCC funded $44.4 million threshold programme, which is aimed at improving the financial viability of water and electricity sectors in Sierra Leone.
The independent US Government agency works to reduce global poverty through economic growth. Created in 2004, MCC provides time-limited grants and assistance to poor countries like Sierra Leone that meet rigorous standards for good governance, from fighting corruption to respecting democratic rights.
Vice President, Dr Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh, who is supervising the activities of the MCC in the country, said since 2018 the threshold programme has been successfully implemented.
Dr Jalloh confirmed that the country has made good progress in meeting the criteria laid down in the MCC scorecard, adding that the government has built a strong regulatory framework around the energy and water sector.
“We have made immense gains in the implementation of the threshold program and the score card,” he said.
Mr Cairncross said that he appreciates the progress being made in the implementation of the MCC programme.
“Your government has done an impressive job on our scorecard. The work done on people trafficking and other areas are impressive. This is the commitment that we want to see at the MCC. I want to see progress made in our programmes to be sustainable and lasting. This is exciting news and upon my return, I will tell the Board of Directors and Congress in the United States about the progress that Sierra Leone has made,” he said.
In his response, President Bio thanked Mr Cairncross and his team for visiting Sierra Leone and spoke about that the importance of the MCC threshold programme. He said that the MCC funded programme aligns well with his government’s priorities, particularly the water and power sectors.
“We are fully committed to completing the threshold programmes because they have laid a solid foundation for our development aspirations. We will embrace them because I know they will further strengthen our partnership,” President Bio assured.
Mr Cairncross and his MCC team then went to Aberdeen where they officially launched the District Metering Area (DMA) Pipe Rehabilitation and Kiosks Demonstration project, which is being implemented in collaboration with the Guma Valley Water Company (GVWC).
The DMA activity is part of the $44.4 Million Sierra Leone Threshold Programme grant which is funded by the Millennium Challenge Corporation of the United States of America.
The project aims to improve GVWC’s operations by reducing Non-Revenue Water (NRW) in the Aberdeen and Kingtom communities. This intervention is essential to laying the foundation for the financially viable provision of water services. If this pilot project is successful, it can be incrementally scaled up to cover the rest of greater Freetown.
Funds for the DMA project are estimated at $4.12 Million and it is expected to benefit over 38,000 people in the Aberdeen and Kingtom communities. The project is expected to achieve the following:
- Installation of 3.1-kilometer pipeline
- Installation of 1,246 customer meters to private homes
- Removal of 15.6 kilometer spaghetti pipes
- Safe disposal of 380 meters Asbestos pipes
- Installation of 71 Manifolds
- Construction of 11 water kiosks
- Establishment of a digital control room for remote monitoring of the system
- 42 Project Affected Persons fully compensated
The MCC is supporting Guma Valley Water Company to build its capacity to deliver sustainable water services to the people within its coverage area. This demonstration activity will provide Guma an on-the-ground practicum to test and develop sustainable service improvement and delivery systems that can be institutionalized across its service area. The construction phase commenced on February 21, 2020 and will be completed in January 2021.
This is a positive development not only for the New Direction government but for our country. During this trying time of this dreadful pandemic disease ( COVID-19) , Ambassador Cairncross has sacrifice his life, time and effort to visit Sierra Leone for the first time, which shows that his government appreciates the progress that our government is currently making in the MCC development goals. Water and Electricity are still a major challenge for our nation, and by the grace of the Almighty our nation will once again be blessed with these basic necessities which will transform the lives of our citizens.
The water that every citizen is praying for is pure, colorless and drinkable water rather than Red, Green or Rainbow. Every patriotic Sierra Leonean should be praying day and night for the New Direction government to achieve these goals instead of creating unnecessary unrest just to destroy the chances of our government to continue the transformation of the lives of our citizens for the better. May the Almighty continue to bless Vice President Dr. Juldeh Jalloh for his unshakable commitment and also Ambassador Cairncross for recognizing our nation.
In the past few years, Sierra Leone has failed to meet the millennium challenge corporation, a US independent organisation that give grants to developing countries for national development, and improvement of the living standards of its citizens, like access to education for girls, tackling human trafficking, health, human rights good governance, corruption and accountability. And most importantly putting down roots of development goals that benefit all not the few. As is happening under this Bio government. Back then, Sierra Leone scorecard assessment by the MCC was eleven points out of twenty under the EKB government.
The last time we didn’t have a looking in to qualify for this much needed grant that can help alleviate poverty. This year under Bio’s government the score card threshold remains at disappointingly eleven points out of twenty. No surprises there, could be worst given the state we are in. I suppose if we qualify for the 44 million dollars grant, the MCC Scorecard rating might have placed more priorities or emphasis on certain sectors than others certainly not his human rights record. Or how else does one explain EKB’s government scoring eleven points but failed to reach the threshold for funding, and Bio’s government scoring the same points, but is praised for his efforts to deliver the aims and objectives of the millennium goals.
Despite Bio’s human rights abuses and the suppression of individual rights and free press, the MCC board in Washington, might just give him a free pass, for his much taunted crusade on corruption . I think human rights abuses and free press, should not be sacrificed on the alter, for this President that has shown little interest in bringing the people of Sierra Leone together. May God bless Sierra Leone.
By the looks of things the Bio administration is passing with a “C +” which is not bad. What it means is that with a little more effort a “B” is around the corner, especially if the water supply project takes off smoothly. This time Ambassador Cairncross has spoken in measured terms. Let us hope that next time he will speak in superlatives to show his total satisfaction.
The Vice President, Dr Jalloh should be commended for what he has done; we expect more from him as the project nears completion. Politically, the novelty of it all should do no harm to his reputation. Any distance starts with the first.