Since 1976, Development and Peace’s program in Sierra Leone has been helping to strengthen the country’s democracy as well as its social and economic development with an emphasis on citizen participation in the democratic life of the country. Our focus has been on promoting transparency and respect for human rights in the exploitation of both agricultural and mineral resources, and in particular ensuring that women can participate actively in the democratic life of the country in order to improve their living conditions.
The objective of the program is to ensure that the profits generated contribute effectively to just and sustainable development within the nation’s poorest and most marginalized communities, in particular young people, people with disabilities, and women.
Development and Peace has developed a strategy that prioritizes strengthening civil society organizations such as citizen coalitions and associations of young people, women, and people with disabilities.
Development and Peace also supports associations that aim to promote women’s participation in decision-making in their daily lives, along with their participation in public life. Empowerment, associative involvement, and the improvement of women’s economic conditions are the key elements of our approach. Whether in mining regions, where they are particularly affected by the activities of extractive industries, or in more agricultural regions, women’s participation in democratic life and the improvement of their economic conditions are the two reference points of our interventions.
Sierra Leone is slowly rebuilding after a terrible civil war that tore it apart between 1991 and 2000, causing the death of an estimated 50,000 to 200,000 people, maiming thousands, and displacing over 2.5 million children, women and men, i.e. one third of the entire population. More than 5,000 children, both boys and girls, were recruited as child soldiers.
The country’s economy came to a standstill and more than half of the population now lives in extreme poverty. Despite significant natural resources (diamonds, titanium, bauxite, iron, etc.) and an agricultural sector with great potential, Sierra Leone remains one of the poorest countries in the world.
The country is also recovering from the Ebola epidemic that struck the country in 2015 and also spread to other countries in West Africa. In one year, the epidemic affected nearly 30,000 people and took over 10,000 lives.
In 2018, Sierra Leone held legislative and presidential elections. Despite tensions, the elections were conducted in a calm atmosphere and a new president from a new party was elected. In preparation for these elections, Development and Peace supported its partners in organizing civil society to develop specific requests for the government and then to follow up with elected officials to ensure that they respected their commitments. In addition, through our partners, we supported women’s participation in these elections, in terms of both voting and running for office.