| The objective of the President’s Recovery Priorities was to improve the lives of millions of ordinary Sierra Leoneans and revert to the implementation of the Agenda for Prosperity, President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma said last Friday to mark the end of the nation’s recovery programme dubbed, the President’s Recovery Priorities.
The event, which was held at the Bintumani Hotel, Aberdeen in Freetown, saw in attendance cabinet ministers, members of parliament, development partners, traditional and religious leaders as well as stakeholders from across the country.
According to President Koroma, the recovery programme which lasted for twenty-four months, focused on 7 key priority areas, including education, energy, health, private sector development, social protection, water and governance. He outlined the achievements made since the establishment of the President’s Delivery Team (PDT); a hard-hitting and innovative approach to improve the delivery of public services in Sierra Leone.
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, government introduced a new system for school feeding which is geared towards the better nourishment and health of 1.2 million primary school children nationwide. Quality lesson plans in core subjects for primary and JSS teachers were developed, and training them in the use of those plans, government is ensuring that teaching standards are raised and maintained throughout the Government school system.
In the area of energy, President Koroma noted the rapid construction of the 66kv Wellington Express line to ensure that 26, 000 customers 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 emphasized that these would support the objective to double operational power generation capacity from 75MW to 150MW which would expand access to about 750, 000 more people.
Meanwhile the president 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 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 revealed was underway.
In his brief introductory remarks, the State House Chief of Staff Saidu Conton Sesay said the recovery programme was designed and implemented by Sierra Leoneans with the objective to drive sustainable socio-economic transformation in Sierra Leone, following the twin shocks of the unprecedented Ebola outbreak and the drastic fall of iron ore prices. The Office of the Chief of Staff in the Office of the President, he said, provided vigorous supervision of the programme for proper tracking.
Delivery Team Lead Madam Yvonne Aki-Sawyer in her brief statement, commended the commitment shown by the president which she said undoubtedly gave impetus to the team for the successful outcome of the programme, despite the few challenges of funding and accurate data collection she highlighted. She singled out the weekly Thursday meetings of the Delivery Team at State House which were mostly chaired by the Head of State himself or the Chief of Staff. Those meetings, she emphasised, apparently helped to guide the Team all through the exercise. Being a community driven project, Madam Aki-Sawyer intimated that it involved Paramount Chiefs, Section Chiefs and Headmen across the country.
Speaking on behalf of the Dean of Diplomatic Corps, the Iranian Ambassador to Sierra Leone Dr Nosratollah Maliki associated the success of the delivery programme to the decisive and astute leadership of President Koroma. In the same vein, the United Nations Resident Coordinator Sunil Saigal congratulated the president and the people of Sierra Leone for the results achieved in the recovery programme. He assured of UN’s support to the seven priority areas under the PRP to return Sierra Leone to its development trajectory. He also reminded that the fight against the Ebola epidemic clearly demonstrated the power of community involvement to effect real change.
Head of Department for International Development (DFID) Angela Spilsbury described the PRP agenda as very ambitious which provided the platform for the delivery team to achieve its ultimate goal. She commended the involvement of local chiefs in the programme.