United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) together with World Food Programme (WFP) and the Government of Sierra Leone
on Tuesday 3rd December 2019 launched a joint project entitled “Mitigating Localized Resources-based Conflicts and Increasing Community Resilience” to be piloted in Pujehun and Moyamba districts of Sierra Leone.
The $3,000,000 project funded by UN’s Peacebuilding Fund (PBF) aims to mitigate local conflicts and increase community resilience through improving regulatory environment and inclusive investment, instituting dialogues platforms, and supporting communities to develop alternative livelihoods as well as building capacity of local government and security institutions as well as private companies to be more responsive and accountable.
It directly targets 2,500 women and youths and will be piloted in three chiefdoms of two districts - Makpele and Malen chiefdoms in Pujehun district and Upper Banta chiefdom chiefdom, Moyamba district. Moyamba and Pujehun districts have in recent times been characterized by numerous violent conflicts and social unrest due to deteriorating relationships between communities and multinational investment companies, as well as with local leaders and institutions according to findings from a previous UNDP-PBF project – Peacebuilding and Conflict Mitigation.
The findings showed that, large-scale land acquisition that exclude communities, a lack of regular community and company dialogue, non-compliance with human rights standards, the exclusion of community members from determining the utilization of corporate social responsibility funds and the destruction of livelihoods are the root cause of localized violent conflict, poverty and food insecurity in Pujehun and Moyamba districts.
Against that backdrop, the new PBF project therefore seeks to ensure that the gains of such development ventures are equally enjoyed by all stakeholders and especially that the communities participate in the processes leading to the investments in order to sustain the resultant development in a holistic manner that will encompass local ownership and environmental protection among others.
Through a Community-Based Participatory Planning (CBPP) approach to peacebuilding through agricultural livelihood development, this joint project will have UNDP leading expertise on the governance, peace and social cohesion aspects while WFP specializes in the food security and livelihoods aspects. This will be achieved by strengthening the existing regulatory framework on land acquisition and operationalizing this through the strengthening of national, district, chiefdom and community-level mediation and dialogue infrastructure as part of UNDP’s outcomes; whereas WFP will facilitate the provision of livelihoods support to affected communities in order to strengthen agricultural and alternative livelihood sources, including agricultural asset creation activities that empower women and youth with inputs and skills, and gender-transformative technical and vocational training to enable local women and youth to benefit from company employment opportunities.
The targeted communities are expected to realized sustained peace and social cohesion, and diversified and increased livelihood opportunities which include: farmers linked with markets, increased community led development initiatives, climate-smart agricultural practices, strengthened agricultural value chain, strengthened grievance redress mechanisms, strengthened mechanisms that increase transparency and strengthened district-level multi-stakeholders platforms that foster women and youth inclusion in decision making.
At government, civil society and private sector levels, the project expects a strengthened security sector that efficiently responds to local conflicts and is accountable to the communities as much as it is to local leaders and private companies involved. Government entities and private companies will be supported through skills training to better respond to community needs. The project will provide support to the Government of Sierra Leone to strengthen policy frameworks, coordination and reporting on the Sierra Leone Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (SLEITI) and Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forestry (VGGT) for enhanced community and businesses partnerships. The professionalism and integrity of the security sector will be enhanced through trainings in conflict mediation, human rights and sexual and gender-based violence, in addition to strengthening police and community partnerships. Targeted private-sector company staff will also be trained in human rights, gender approaches and livelihoods programming.
Overall, through this integrated inclusive approach and by ensuring that land acquisition and land use processes are more aligned with policy frameworks, both communities and companies in Pujehun and Moyamba districts will enjoy peace and social cohesion as a result of responsible investments and access to livelihood opportunities, promoting a conducive, peaceful environment and improving food security. This will also contribute to efforts supporting sustaining peace in Sierra Leone. Accountable institutions and mechanisms that promote peaceful relations are drivers of sustainable livelihoods and development.
The project was officially launched at an event held at the Office of the Vice President of Sierra Leone. It is yet another UN peacebuilding project in Sierra Leone funded through the Peacebuilding Fund and will be jointly implemented by WFP and UNDP in partnership with the Vice President’s Office among other national stakeholders, and private sector companies. The project was formally launched by the Minister of State of the Office of the Vice President and the UN Resident Coordinator.