Since 1961, USAID has helped Sierra Leone gain political stability, achieve food security, and strengthen democratic governance through targeted assistance to key sectors such as education and agriculture. In 1974, the U.S. downgraded its development assistance for almost two and half decades, resuming full operations in 1999 to help bring closure to the country’s civil war. Using a two-pronged approach during the war years (1991-2002), USAID provided humanitarian and emergency assistance, promoted reintegration and reconciliation, and supported the implementation of the Lomé Peace Accord which brought an end to the decade-long civil war.
In 2000, the U.S. Government increased its investment in Sierra Leone, aiming to reduce the threat of regional destabilization, to raise awareness of the widespread atrocities that were committed during the civil war, and to increase international support for the government and the people of Sierra Leone.
During the Transition Strategy from 2001-2003 USAID focused on the social and economic reintegration of war-torn communities, including disarmament and reconciliation, and on strengthening democratic governance. A limited program transitioned into a broader assistance portfolio with USAID’s Mission in Guinea providing overall coordination and oversight for the Sierra Leone program.
Since 2006, USAID has identified opportunities to enhance democratic governance including supporting legitimate and transparent trade in diamonds through the Kimberly process while promoting equitable benefits to communities; engaging with local communities, civil society, and media to improve governance; strengthening electoral processes and promoting increased participation in political processes; and increasing participatory management of forest resources.
In 2014 following the outbreak of Ebola in the region, the U.S. Government, through USAID, provided emergency support for the Ebola response and invested in the country’s post Ebola recovery and long-term development. USAID supported the Ministry of Health and Sanitation in ensuring that health facilities were restored and able to provide essential primary health care services including providing clinical care and anti-stigmatization programs for Ebola survivors; renewing the demand for maternal and health care services by providing lifesaving drugs to pregnant women, lactating mothers, and children under five years old; eliminating endemic diseases; and carrying out research to identify animal reservoir hosts for Ebola.
Moving forward, USAID will continue to build on gains in Sierra Leone to improve health outcomes, deepen good governance programs, gender equality and empowerment, and to foster economic growth through public-private partnerships on its path towards a peaceful and prosperous future.