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Sierra Leone News: British High Commissioner tells Sierra Leone Parliament about enduring ties

The British High Commissioner faced questions before Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday 28th November 2018 as part of their commitment to meet with all diplomatic missions so as to acquaint themselves with their activities within the country. Chaired by Hon. Kandeh Yumkella, the panel asked Guy Warrington questions on development assistance in Sierra Leone, the environment, and border security.  The High Commissioner was invited to outline the broad support the UK Government provides in Sierra Leone. The High Commissioner highlighted the UK’s support to Parliament and the democratic process, most recently via the support the UK gave to the multi-tiered electoral process. He made clear that the UK did not have any influence over the result. He praised the work of the Westminster Foundation for Democracy and Commonwealth Parliamentary Association; and the wider work they do to build democratic institutions. He said the UK would always support Parliamentary prerogatives, but would be quick to comment when Parliament exceeded those prerogatives. Warrington outlined the support the UK provides to Sierra Leone and the wider world, quick to note that the UK was the only country to meet both the NATO commitment to spend 2% on defence and the UN commitment to spend 0.7% of GNI on development. The High Commissioner spoke about the historic relationship between the UK and Sierra Leone. He described the UK as Sierra Leone’s oldest friend, and the record the UK had of answering the call when Sierra Leone was in need, citing examples such as the Civil War, the response to Ebola, and the 2017 landslide. The High Commissioner went into detail about the assistance the UK Government gives to Sierra Leone. The UK has been one of the largest contributors of aid to Sierra Leone over the past few years. This year (2018/2019) more than £132.5m of UK aid will come to Sierra Leone through bilateral, multilateral and centrally managed programs. This makes the UK the biggest bilateral donor in Sierra Leone. This assistance, provided by UK aid programs, is clustered around three core themes – Economic Growth; Governance and Social Development; and Basic Services – which covers support for infrastructure, governance, macro-economic support and rural (and urban) development. The Water, Environmental Sanitation and Hygiene program is providing improved WASH for 250,000 people by providing boreholes and latrines. It is also improving waste management services for 600,000 people. The Rehabilitation of Freetown’s Water Supply System program is replacing and improving the water network in the city. It is improving the access to safe drinking water for 600,000 residents and businesses. The Rural Electrification in Sierra Leone program is providing health centres and communities (including businesses) with solar power to benefit more than 200,000 people. The Increasing Access to Electricity in Sierra Leone program is improving the availability and reliability of energy for more than 200,000 people in Sierra Leone’s second and third cities (Bo and Kenema). And the new Invest Salone program will support private sector firms to grow while providing technical assistance to Government to tackle the constraints to growth in Sierra Leone. He said they will continue to support good governance in Sierra Leone. The SABI program (Strengthening Accountability and Building Inclusion) empowers citizens to hold service providers to account and improve service delivery. UK aid supports anti-corruption in Sierra Leone through an anonymous citizen bribe reporting platform and campaign, and support to strengthen the Anti-Corruption Commission. The UK helps improve revenue collection in Sierra Leone by providing technical assistance to the National Revenue Authority to increase revenue flows through improved data, revenue enforcement drives and customs reform. The UK also provides support to basic services in Sierra Leone. The Saving Lives in Sierra Leone program is reaching 2 million women and children, building health systems to improve health outcomes for under-fives, adolescents, pregnant women and mothers. The Leh Wi Learn program is working in every non-private secondary school in Sierra Leone to reach 1.4 million children.

29/11/18

Friday November 30, 2018.

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