The Minister of Planning and Economic Development, Dr. Francis Kai-Kai has on Tuesday, 28th July 2020, officially launched the “Team Europe Initiative” to support decentralized COVID-19 response in Sierra Leone.
The “Team Europe Initiative” is geared towards supporting and strengthening Sierra Leone’s response in the most vulnerable communities. The European Union and Ireland combined resources and mobilized approximately 1.5 million EUR (or 16.5 Billion Leones) to support the response through two coordinated interventions in partnership with CSO’s across 11 districts in the country and reaching an estimated 400,000 individuals.
Welcoming the audience, the Development Secretary, Peter Sam-Kpakra thanked the EU and Ireland together with the partner NGOs for facilitating the launch and for their continued support to government’s effort in the fight against COVID-19.
The Irish Ambassador, Lesley Ní Bhriain said this ensures Ireland’s overarching priority in contributing to reducing the incidence and mitigating the impact of the pandemic among vulnerable populations. Ambassador Ní Bhriain encouraged partners to make the ‘Build Back Better’ slogan a reality so that projects while responding to an emergency situation can also contribute to the goals and objectives of the Medium-Term National Development Plan (2019-2013).
In her statement, The Deputy Head of EU Delegation to Sierra Leone, Jamila El-Assaidi said the Initiative was the localized expression of the EU’s global commitment to help most vulnerable countries in Africa, and across the world. She noted that the partnership with Ireland was proof of the EU’s utmost commitment to jointly move aid effectiveness from policy to practice.
Madam Assaidi congratulated the President Bio-led government for its commitment and efforts to support a multi-stakeholder response to the pandemic and for the Minister’s efforts in recognizing the critical role played by all stakeholders including NGO’s, grassroots organizations and local councils among others.
In his address, The Minister, in welcoming everyone on behalf of President Julius Maada Bio, noted that the ‘Team Europe Initiative’ was a laudable event with the aim of localizing and transferring development to the people. Dr. Kai-Kai said the Initiative would contribute enormously to the government’s response in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, especially at the District level.
Minister Kai-Kai said the NGOs, who are partners, play a significant role in the development and that they cover the last 5-mile everywhere in terms of development.
“We rely on you considerably for delivery on development outcomes and your role is a critical one and this is one that the President-Bio led government values very much. President Julius Maada Bio is now fully convinced that the NGOs have a key role to play in the development process of our country”, Dr. Kai-Kai said.
He noted the need to target district level structures in the implementation process, which he said was the formula for success. He urged them to collaborate and coordinate with partners on the ground creating the synergy that would improve on the lives of the ordinary people.
The EU intervention would be implemented by a coalition of NGOs, CSOs, and local authorities which would focus on empowering local actors including the District COVID 19 response teams in Falaba and Karene districts. The second intervention would also support the National COVID-19 strategy and response efforts in both urban and rural communities.
Other dignitaries present include Country Director’s of Trócaire, Concern Worldwide and Goal International including local actors from AAD-SL, SEND, KADDRO among others