European Union and Ireland dubbed "TEAM EUROPE" have yesterday officially launched the sum of 1.5 million EUR ( LE 16.5 BILLION ) in order to support a decentralised COVID-19 response at district level in Sierra Leone.
The launching which took place at the National Authorization Office ,Tower Hill, was geared towards targeting an estimated figure of 400,000 individuals across eleven (11) out of the sixteen (16) districts, which are; Bombali, Bonth, Falaba, Kambia, Karene, Kenema, Moyamba, Port Loko, Tonkolili, and Western Area Urban.
In his address, the Minister of Planning and Economic Development (MoPED, Dr. Francis Kaikai, acknowledged the laudable and life-saving initiative put together by the European Union, Irish Embassy and the Consortium of NGOs which dubbed as "TEAM EUROPE INITIATIVE", aimed at supporting the covid-19 response at district level.
He added that looking at another aspect of the Covid-19 response, he said his Ministry saw the need to bring in development partners, adding that they had held three development partners' committee meeting in which the president had made it very clear the importance of partners.
He stated that he was very pleased the way development partners have responded especially European Union and the Irish Embassy.
He continued that translating the "TEAM UROPE INITIATIVE" to the NGO community is very plausible, adding that the NGOs themselves provide leadership in every district.
He said they were also providing supports which has brought significant benefit to the covid-19 fight in all the districts.
He added that there are two districts with some challenges but noted that those are challenges that would be surmounted the soonest.
Dr. Kaikai also said during his recent tour in many of the districts, he introduced all the NGOs to the respective DICOVERCs and stakeholders in every district in order to enhance adequate response to covid-19 fight.
"In response, some districts are better endowed than others therefore, others need more attention. Now I am happy that Falaba and Karene have been identified for this particular response. I know they have district Leads there as well and as a ministry, we have been there in our decentralization of our Medium Term National Development Plan of which the people gave us feedbacks and we also saw what was going on in those districts. Thus, Karene and Falaba are relatively new districts and they need a lot of help as well. What you have to do now,. I would strongely recommend to deepen the response in Karene and Falaba districts," said Dr. Kaikai.
Deputy Head of European Union Delegation, Ms. Jamila El-Assaidi, said since the genesis of the pandemic, the European Union and its member states have worked relentlessly in close partnership with the Government of Sierra Leone, NGOs and other development partners, in order to respond to the covid-19 crisis.
As part of European Union's history in terms of support to the Government of Sierra Leone, she said EU made an initial disbursement of 10 million EUR in aid; to help the most vulnerable communities in Freetown.
She said EU mobilised the sum of 2 million EUR to support discentralised response,adding that EU also provided 10 million EURs worth of grant to the local councils of Bombali, Kambia, Kenema and Pujehun.
She said EU would soon commit additional 2 million EURs for the same purpose in Karene and Falaba districts respectively.
Ms. Assaidi further stated that EU engaged 5.2 million EURs to NaCSA's social protection scheme for the free cash transfer for thirty-seven thousands of the most vulnerable Sierra Leoneans.
She added that the "TEAM EUROPE INTITIATIVE" is the localised expression of the global commitment, which she said was the result of the two partnerships of the EU and Ireland.
She further stated that the importance of the initiative is to recognize the value of NGOs and CSOs as development partners, adding that the project brought together six outstanding European, Irish and Sierra Leonean NGOs to complement the effort of the authorities in the fight against covid-19.
She affirmed that the "TEAM EUROPE INITIATIVE" would bring relief to 400,000 Sierra Leoneans across the country.
She further stated that implementing partners have committed to collaborating and managing resources to the highest standards in order to make every cent counts.
She continued that they have also committed and collaborated fully with national and local authorities in the implementation of their tasks.
On her part, Head of Development of the Ireland Embassy, intimated that the "TEAM EUROPE INITIATIVE" is a project that would benefit from the spirit of solidarity, which she encouraged all and sundry to overcome the challenges posed by covid-19.
She added that Ireland is pleased to join colleagues in the EU delegation to support Civil Society response to the pandemic.
She continued that since the beginning of the pandemic, Ireland has worked in building and contributing to coherence, effective and integrated global response.
"We have had a number of meetings here at the Ministry with the Ambassador and the Minister and one of the things that we discussed is the medium terms development plan. The medium terms development plan is the light that is guiding us and we need all to take care not to let covid-19 overshadows that light. There will always be a bumps in the road of development, but it is how we work through that bumps by keeping an eye on the longer term goal, that will help us contribute over our success," she concludes.