Sierra Leone suffers stagnant growth despite British ‘take-over’

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Recent evaluation of Sierra Leone has revealed that the anger and frustration that fuelled the civil war there a decade ago are still substantial despite a quasi-British run administration, and people are hungry for the benefits they thought peace would bring.

Almost 50 years after its independence from the British, the government of Sierra Leone believes its corporation with the former European colonial power can help bring the progress it seeks. However, the Sierra Leonean story remains the same despite having British officials taking over some functions of state in the west African country in the quest for good governance.

According to Valnora Jones of the non-governmental organization, Campaign for Good Governance, the Sierra Leonean administration has been, to a high extent, taken-over by British elements. Donor partners need clearance from the UK Department for International Development or the UK before coming into the country.

Sierra Leone has transited from a brutal and nasty civil war, where tens of thousands died at the hands of rebels, whose trademark was to hack off the limbs of their victims, into peace. And despite receiving hundreds of millions of pounds of humanitarian and development aid from Britain, almost a decade of peace have done little to better the lives of Sierra Leoneans as poverty and unemployment continue to weaken the country’s future prospects.

Although “real economic growth rebounded strongly after the war” in Sierra Leone, as indicated by the World Bank, some of the major challenges that have rocked the country since the civil war ended in 2002 is the ripple effect of unemployment on the country’s future, with school going youths reportedly dropping out of school with no prospect of a future employment. As a fact, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Human Development Index ranked Sierra Leone at 180 out of 182 countries based on 2007 data, in 2009.

A BBC survey showed that Sierra Leoneans feel they are caught in the poverty trap. Students are unable to find jobs after graduation, and so many have dropped from schools, taken to early marriages and resulted to child bearing. Teachers on the other hand work without pay, a situation that has discouraged many from going to college. The confirms reports indicating that three of every ten young men, between the ages of 20 and 24, were neither formally employed nor in school four years ago. With a slowing down of the country’s economy before the global financial and economic crises, the Human Development Index could be worse.

And as their Health and Nutrition outcomes continue to be counted among the worst in the world, Sierra Leoneans are appalled by the unchanging poverty trap they continue to fall prey to despite having a British monitored government, and are demanding something more constructive. But some analysts believe that after decades of mismanagement and strife, the British would need time to plant the seeds of progress in the West African country.

In June 2009, the UN said that despite some impressive gains in rebuilding since the end of the civil war, efforts to consolidate peace and prosperity in the country remained fragile. Some experts say that economic recovery has been slow partly because the reconstruction needs are so great. Around half of government revenue comes from donors.

Britain sent troops to Sierra Leone to intervene in the country’s brutal civil war; the rebel forces were defeated and the conflict ended.

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