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UNDP, FAO engage Kono District on Sustainable Livelihoods Programme

July 20, 2015

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), in collaboration with United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), on 8 and 9 July, 2015 held consultative meetings with stakeholders in Kono District ahead of the implementation of a project titled, “Enabling Sustainable Livelihoods through Improved Natural Resource Governance and Economic Diversification” in the district.

Supported by the Government of Spain, through the Sustainable Development Goal Fund (SDG-F), the project is implemented within the framework of the UN multi-agency Area-Based Development (ABD) approach with the aim of enhancing sustainable, inclusive governance of natural resources, as well as diversification of sustainable livelihood opportunities in one of the most mineral-rich, but least developed areas in the country.

In collaboration with key government ministries, especially the Ministries of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security; Fisheries and Marine Resources; Youth Affairs; and National Youth Commission; Local Councils; Paramount Chiefs; and the private sector, the project intends to construct 24 earthen ponds, eight poultry farms in selected communities, and engage youth in targeted training and skills building activities for employment and entrepreneurship opportunities in Kono District.

Talking on behalf of the United Nations system, Programme Manager of Energy, Environment and Natural Resources at UNDP, Saskia Murijnissen, said Sierra Leone is in a unique position for being selected as one of few countries globally, and one of only three countries in Africa, including Cote d’Ivoire and Tanzania, to benefit from the initial pilot phase of the SDG-F.

“This initiative comes at an important moment in time when Sierra Leone is steadily moving forward to reaching the point at which it can be declared Ebola free, and full focus can be on recovery from the social and economic impacts of the crisis,” she stated.

Mayor of Koidu New Sembehun City Council, Sahr Emerson Lamina, expressed gratitude to the United Nations joint-initiative and noted that the project is in line with Pillar 2 of the government’s Agenda for Prosperity (AfP), which among other things seeks to ensure the actualisation of welfare and benefits to individuals and communities affected by mining.

Mayor Lamina lamented that many young people in Kono District have wasted several years in search of diamonds, neglecting other opportunities. He encouraged indigenes to embrace and take ownership of opportunities packaged in the project, which he said places the district and the country in the spotlight.

Several local authorities and partners emphasised the need for local participation at every stage of the project implementation, plus constant communication between the UN system and district authorities.

Kono District has one of the most productive mineral – diamond and gold – sectors in the country. However, revenue generated through the extractive industry is not sufficiently invested in local development, while the capacity for sustainable governance of natural resources is weak.

Since the end of the civil war, the district remains one of the least developed areas in Sierra Leone, characterised by inequality, poverty and environmental degradation. The disconnect between public expectations and development returns from mining revenues, versus the slow pace of economic and social progress, has resulted to social tensions and increased risks of conflicts.

The project will facilitate participatory decision-making processes that will contribute to greater inclusiveness of marginalised groups, especially women. It is expected to end by December 2015, with its sustainability highly dependent on strong community ownership.

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