December 16, 2015 The Author: Michael Massaquoi
President Koroma’s Post-Ebola Recovery and Transition Programme is almost six months old, and by all indications, there are remarkable improvements in the key priority areas of the delivery plan in all the fourteen districts. Under the health sector, for example, majority of the districts have benefited immensely – from the construction of temporary triage and isolation facilities, in some hospitals to permanent structures in community health centres to meet infection prevention compliance; ongoing intensive disease surveillance and monitoring; improved WASH facilities in peripheral health centres; district-wide vaccination and intensive support for EVD survivors among several others.
The education sector continues to make significant improvements in key areas by providing school subsidies for exams and fees nation-wide, training of teachers on core content to promote accelerated learning, intensive social mobilization at district and chiefdom levels to ensure sanitation, safety guidelines and protocols are routinely followed, with an uninterrupted support for vulnerable children up and down the country. The back-to-school programme has also attracted several teenage mothers who are now benefiting from extra lessons three days a week, following the training of over fifty teachers in each district to support the young mothers develop confidence and to be able to return to mainstream education.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Food security and Ministry of Trade have been reaching out to communities to support farmers and petty traders as part of the effort to expand the private sector. Majority of the farmers in the country have received seed rice and fertilizers, and thousands of kilometers of feeder roads have been rehabilitated in various parts of the country. Loans to farmers are being provided either in the form of seeds or cash, and some of the farmers have in turn, as in the case of Moyamba, began paying back the loans during this year’s harvest. Training of farmers for the cultivation of inland valley swamps (IVS) are being conducted across the country, and will expose them to improved agricultural practices and maximize their annual yields.
In another development, Moyamba District, for example, has over 50 hectares of cassava multiplication sites that are being implemented as part of the recovery programme in various communities targeting fifty farming groups. The Ministry of Trade and Industry on the other has targeted hundreds of traders in each district, and in the case of Moyamba District, for example, four traders have been piloted out of fifteen who have so far received various loans. Tens of thousands of vulnerable people across the country continue to benefit from assistive packages that include food and non-food items from either the Ministry of Social Welfare or partners including Plan, Forut, and World Vision etc.
The Ebola virus disease survivors form a larger number of the most vulnerable group who continue to be supported by mainstream ministries together with partners in all fourteen districts across the country. Software support such as counseling, psycho-social support and income support form part of the 26 key outcomes under social protection. Support also comes from the National Commission for Social Action (NaCSA) towards Ebola affected families and young people under the MIS payment system and labour intensive scheme.
Sierra Leone has indeed come through a rugged road from the moment the country was almost shut down by the Ebola outbreak to the recovery phase. What we have learned as a people over the last 18 months, and the nightmare we all experienced as a result of the Ebola virus, it is time we embrace the President’s initiative for a recovery that will not only reinvigorate our energy for development, but one that can also strengthen our economic and social structures and put the country back on its development track.
The 26 outcomes outlined as key performance indicators (KPIs) in the recovery plan are essentially the areas the President has prioritized since they are the vital parts of the engine of the development agenda of the country. The four priority areas – health, education, social protection and private sector – cannot be effectively revitalized and strengthened if the key performance indicators (KPIs) are not fully implemented at all levels. The ongoing efforts of the 6-9 months post-Ebola recovery and transition which commenced in July this year, once fully implemented will undoubtedly improve our service delivery and make us a stronger nation once more. The resilience with which we fought this war must not diminish to sail us through in achieving the desired outcomes of our post-Ebola recovery and transition to our development framework – Agenda for Prosperity.
The opportunities that have emerged from the devastation of the Ebola outbreak including the surge of resources, among other things, will undoubtedly improve our health, education, economic and social structures, with the courage as a people to forge ahead irrespective of our political or social differences.
*The writer is the District Coordinator in Moyamba for the President’s Delivery Team on Transition and Recovery