July 25, 2018
By Patrick Jaiah Kamara & Binta Njie Jatta
Stepping into the shoes of President Julius Maada Bio, Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Jacob Jusu Saffa, yesterday launched fragility reports on Sierra Leone titled: ‘The Underlying Causes of Fragility and Instability in Sierra Leone’ and ‘Escaping the Fragility Trap.’
The 35 and 76 pages reports are well-researched documents put together by thirteen commissioners, headed by erstwhile UK Prime Minister David Cameron, who was assisted by Donald Kaberuka, Special Envoy at the Africa Union Peace Fund and former Africa Development Bank president.
The commission, which was established under the auspices of the International Growth Centre (IGC) and funded by the London School of Economics and Political Science and British Academy’s Sustainable Development Programme, highlighted several factors responsible for states fragility.
The reports clearly set out the characteristics of fragility, including lack of basic security, inadequate government capacity, absence of a properly functioning private security and presence of divided societies.
Saffa noted in his keynote address that the reports were an attempt to comprehensively diagnose the conditions of Sierra Leoneans and a message for deciding as to what could be done in terms of moving from fragility to a better state.
He expressed pride in Sierra Leone’s achievement in religious tolerance and inter-ethnic marriage, adding that even at the height of the conflict, no one tribe berated the other, thus noting that traditional societies had laid their resilience as a bastion that protected citizens from the rebels.
Former Liberian President, Dr. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, expressed delight in coming to Sierra Leone, noting that Liberia and Sierra Leone have some similarities in fragility issues, thus commending the IGC for the reports and the commission.
“The length and breadth of the reports is something fundamental to Liberia as lessons for us. The reports covered my country and we are trying to address similar issues,” she said.
While presenting the report, Co-Chair Fragility Commission and former Africa Development Bank President, Dr. Donald Keberuka, noted that fragility can be overcome albeit it could be on and off.
He said though traditional security was still needed at borders, there was need for new type of security forces to support citizenry initiative.
Dr. Kabaruke noted that some fragile states are not particularly poor, although suffering by people in those countries and the knock on effects for their neighbours and the wider world only serve to demonstrate the importance of addressing the problems of fragility.
“The commission’s findings are clear. If international assistance, aid, and crucially economic development are to help make our world safer and more prosperous, we need to address what we call the ‘syndrome’ of fragility. Donor partners shouldn’t tell us what to do with the aid,” he said.