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Sierra Leone is a small country with a population of 5 million. From 1991-2002, the country has been affected by an over a decade-long civil war, which paralysed the economy, caused the collapse of public services, destroyed the country’s infrastructure and incapacitated government institutions. Since the end of the armed conflict, the humanitarian situation in Sierra Leone has progressively improved and the economy has started to recover with annual growth rates of up to 7%. However, Sierra Leone remains one of the poorest countries in the world, where income inequality is relatively high. 70% of the population live below the poverty line and 26% in extreme poverty. Sierra Leone had been at the bottom of the UN Human Development Index for years but is climbing since 2010. In 2011, Sierra Leone ranked 180 out of 187 countries. Sierra Leone has vast natural resources, however, the poorly diversified economy, underdeveloped infrastructure, weak education system, lack of markets and weak capacity to manage these resources in a sustainable way, leave the economy's full potential still untapped.
Broad-based economic growth, which can deliver employment, raise incomes and reduce inequality, is critical to Sierra Leone’s future. Therefore, the European Commission (EC) will continue to support economic growth and to improve infrastructure, governance environment and service delivery to poor people. The Country Strategy Paper for Sierra Leone , which presents the strategic framework for co-operation, is a joint undertaking of the EC and the UK's Department for International Development (DFID). It covers the period 2008-2013 in the case of the EC and the period 2008-2012 in the case of the DFID.
Cooperation will focus on good governance and institutional support as well as the rehabilitation of priority infrastructure. The aim is to contribute to the creation of an institutional framework enabling sustainable economic and social development and to promote pro-poor sustainable growth for food security and job creation.
The EC will continue to provide general budget support to help the Government of Sierra Leone in its efforts to reduce poverty. Overall, the EC has earmarked €90 million of its funds for these purposes. This allocation also includes support envisaged for the reform of public finance management.
Additional activities will focus on agricultural development and support for the implementation of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) as well as on regional integration programmes for trade, environment, agriculture, fisheries and health.
The multi-annual indicative programme for Sierra Leone under the 10th European Development Fund (EDF) amounts to €266.2 million to address these priorities. To this amount is added €24.2 million through the Millennium Development Goals Initiative to achieve MDG 4 (reduce child mortality) and 5 (improve maternal health).
Cross-cutting issues such as human rights, the rights of children, youth and indigenous peoples, gender equality, environmental sustainability, disability and HIV/AIDS have also been integrated in the majority of EC-funded programmes in Sierra Leone.
The allocation of EDF resources to Sierra Leone has steadily increased since 1975. Up to 2001 a total of €400 million had been allocated. The war interrupted project planning and implementation. As a result, projects worth nearly €100 million approved under previous EDF arrangements are still being implemented.
The Country Strategy Paper for Sierra Leone (2003-2007) focused primarily on rehabilitation of priority infrastructure (e.g. roads, education and health facilities) as well as good governance and institutional capacity-building under 9th EDF funding. Macro-economic support has also been provided, in particular for delivering basic social services such as education and health to the poor. The support has been supplemented by two linking relief to rehabilitation and development (LRRD) projects, focusing on agriculture, water and sanitation (€25 million) and health (€7 million). Further funding has been allocated to projects on human development (€15.6 million).
As a result of the funding activities, a total of some 411 km of roads have been improved and resurfaced since 2003, 153 primary and secondary schools have been built or rehabilitated, 76 health units and hospitals have been constructed or renewed and around 500 wells and more than 1000 latrines have been built.
Other sources of information
For more information on EU relations with Sierra Leone and further details on projects and programmes in Sierra Leone funded from the European Development Fund and the general budget of the EU, please contact the Delegation of the European Union to Sierra Leone, which is responsible for co-operation activities in the country.