In a bid to address this deficiency, the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development has in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme, UNDP organized Regional Workshops in Kenema, Bo, Bombali, Port Loko and Western Area Rural Districts aimed at validating the Draft National Rural Development Coordination Policy. Giving the Key Note address at the Bombali and Port Loko District Council Halls, the Deputy Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Hadiru Kalokoh on behalf of the Minister, Maya Moiwo Kaikai, said the policy maps out the roles and responsibilities of all relevant actors in rural development, and their relationships, sets out principles whereby the socio-economic livelihoods of rural communities will be enhanced through effective coordination. He said the policy which focuses on issues of grass- root development in rural areas where poverty is entrenched also serves as a reference point for the Government and other stakeholders in enhancing sustainable economic development and good governance. Stressing the importance of his ministry’s mandate which he said is to coordinate rural development and local government programmes, Mr. Kalokoh urged all development partners to work alongside the policy for effective service-delivery. The Acting Director Rural Development, Michael Samai described Rural Development as the process of improving the quality of life and economic well-being of people living in relatively isolated and sparsely populated areas. He also described it as an integrated process that requires a comprehensive approach, engaging many actors, adding that the essence of the validation exercise was to review and elicit meaningful inputs from key stakeholders to ensure they develop a comprehensive and reliable policy that will stand the test of time. He therefore entreated the participants to ensure they proffer meaningful suggestions and recommendations that would enable them develop a policy that would enhance sustainable rural development. The Lead Facilitator of the workshop, Retired Director of Rural Development, Maada Fah-Bundeh, while giving an overview of the programme said a Draft Rural Development Policy and Plan were prepared and gazetted in 1995 and reframed as a result of the impacts of the civil war and changes in the governance, policy and institutional landscape. On the importance of the policy, Mr. Fah-Bundeh said in spite of the significant improvement made by government, poverty is spread across the country with the rural areas being the hardest hit while referring to document as the first initiative that would provide an overarching framework within which all rural development programmes and initiatives can be more effectively and efficiently coordinated in line with the decentralization process and the “Agenda for Prosperity”. On behalf the Council of Paramount Chiefs, the Paramount Chief of Bombali Sheborah, P.C Bai Sheboreh Kassanga thanked Government for the initiative, noting that policy will help reduce poverty in the rural areas and pledged their unflinching support to the process. Deputy Mayor of Makeni City, Madam Isatu Fofana lauded the effort of the ministry of Local government and UNDP for eliciting the views of stakeholders in the formulation of the policy and hoped it aims and objectives will be realized. Other distinguished personalities including opinion leaders from the five regions also made meaningful contributions to the process. Recommendations made by participants at the end of the workshops included, the need for greater involvement of stakeholders in the design and implementation of plans and development projects, raise public awareness on the importance of the policy, speedy ratification and robust implementation of the policy.