UN Sierra Leone intensifies discussions for a new Cooperation framework

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UN Resident Coordinator,Ms Seraphine Wakana

The United Nations Country Team (UNCT) in Sierra Leone, headed by UN Resident Coordinator, Ms Seraphine Wakana, has started the process of designing its next UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework (UNSCDF) for 2025 to 2030 in line with the Medium-Term Nations Development Plan (2024-2030) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Effective 01 January 2019, the UN development reform identified the UNSDCF as the most important strategic document for the UN Development System’s engagement with a host country. Being the UN system’s collective blueprint, the UNSDCF serves as the UNCT strategic plan for its contributions to the development aspirations of Sierra Leone.

The primary role of the collective UN system in Sierra Leone is to support the country on its path to sustainable development. In particular, the UN system supports the implementation of Sierra Leone’s Medium-term National Development Plan and its efforts to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and other internationally agreed goals and treaties.

Through its Cooperation Framework, the UN agencies, funds, and programmes active in the country provide policy advice, capacity development, technical cooperation, and programme support in many substantive areas and economic sectors.

In preparation for the next Cooperation Framework, which comes into effect in January 2025, a series of regional stakeholder consultations were held, starting with Makeni on Wednesday, 31 January 2024, bringing together participants from the Northwest, including Port Loko, Kambia, Falaba, Kerena, Koinadugu, Tonkolili and Kono district in the East, including Local Council representatives. This was followed by another one-day consultation workshop in Bo town that brought together stakeholders from Pujehun, Bonth, Moyamba, Kailahun and Kenema districts, including Local Council representatives. The third regional consultation workshop was held in Freetown, bringing national-level stakeholders, including Ministries, Departments and Agencies, as well as Local Council representatives from the Freetown City Council, and Western Area Rural District Council, and other key umbrella organizations. They identified challenges in their communities and recommended what development priorities the UN should consider for them in the new plan.

Speaking at the consultations, the Resident Coordinator said that the gatherings signified a pivotal moment for the United Nations and the Government and people of Sierra Leone, as they came together to shape the blueprint for UN development programs in Sierra Leone for 2025-2030. “Our strength lies in our diversity, and these consultations are a testament to our commitment to inclusivity,” she said.

She added that the representatives drawn from various sectors, communities, and backgrounds were expected to bring unique perspectives to enrich the content of our cooperation framework.

Furthermore, the Resident Coordinator said that inclusivity is at the heart of our effort and that “We must ensure that our next cooperation framework addresses the needs of all citizens, leaving no one behind. Our aim is to create an environment where every individual, regardless of background or circumstance, can contribute to and benefit from our collective growth.”

The Resident Coordinator called on the participants to remember that the goal is not merely to contribute to drafting a document but to articulate shared aspirations. She said the next cooperation framework will not be static but a living testament to our commitment to progress, equity, and sustainable development. “It will serve as a reference document that will guide us through the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.”

She also recognized that the global economic situation and geopolitical risks have put extreme pressure on the country’s financial situation, clouded by headwinds from monetary tightening, weak global trade and investment, and rising debt vulnerabilities.

“That is why we believe sustainability in our development interventions, including financial sustainability, is not an option but a necessity.”

The next step of the CF design process is the Theory of Change Workshop. It is a method that explains how a given intervention, or set of interventions, is expected to lead to specific development change, drawing on a causal analysis based on available evidence.

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