The Kenema District Council on December 13th, in the presence of the European Union Delegation to Sierra Leone, the Ministry of Local Government and Community Affairs and the Ministry of Planning and Economic Development, officially handed over new market stalls facilities to serve the critical needs of farmers, petty traders and the communities to support the socio-economic development of Blama and Tongo communities in Kenema District.
The European Union-funded newly constructed market stalls will benefit approximately two thousand people, particularly women and farmers who depend on small agri-businesses for their livelihoods. This investment also will significantly provide security for their businesses, increase the incomes of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and smallholder farmers, improve sanitation and safety with the WASH facility, and boost the revenue generation capacity of the district council.
“The construction of markets in Blama and Tongo through the funding support of the European Union underscores the relevance of decentralized service delivery and local governance. These are strategic interventions to leverage local economic development and livelihood support to women and youths across the district. We, therefore, remain grateful to the European Union Commission for promoting decentralization and local development in Sierra Leone.”, said Mr. Mohamed Amadu Sesay, Chairman Kenema District Council.
The handing-over ceremony was graced by the esteemed presence of Sierra Leone’s Minister of Local Government and Community Affairs, Hon. Tamba Lamina, the Deputy Minister of Economic Planning and Development, Hon. Dr. Robert Chakanda, Chairman of Kenema District Council, Mohamed Amadu Sesay, Deputy Chief Administrator, Patrick Jakema, Head of Cooperation of the European Union Delegation to Sierra Leone, Gerald Hatler, Government officials, development partners, traditional and local authorities and women and youth groups, including hundreds of beneficiaries.
The development of markets is one of the EU-funded investments in Kenema District that is part of the Support to Civil Society and Local Authorities for local development in Sierra Leone programme. Other EU contributions towards the economic and social development of Kenema District include the construction of a funeral home in Small Bo Chiefdom, a multipurpose hall, drying floors and sheds for giant milling machines, and the rehabilitation of feeder roads, culverts and bridges, in line with the District Development Plan.
Before the construction of the facilities, traders in these communities used to sell their products in temporary makeshift structures along the highway, posing severe risks to the health and safety of traders and motorists. The new infrastructure will increase accessibility to market trading and promote economic opportunities for local traders, who are primarily women. This focus greatly supports the national development agenda of the Government of Sierra Leone and the EU’s goal of economic and gender equality. The market facilities will also protect produce and other perishable goods from inclement weather. Furthermore, the facilities will generate revenue to support the Kenema District Council in support of decentralization and the provision of critical social services to the local population.
Through this programme, the EU has funded the construction of additional market facilities in Falaba, Kambia, Karene, Bombali, and Pujehun District. The market projects are just one example of the EU’s support to developing Sierra Leone’s infrastructure to enhance effective service delivery by district councils, promote local development and support decentralization efforts.