Welcoming USAID and implementing partners-World Vision, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and World Fish; the Minister of State I, Dr. Mohamed Gibril Sesay emphasized the importance of such update meeting while noting that the Ministry, on behalf of the Government of Sierra Leone signed Grant Agreements with USAID on the improvement of Agriculture and Food Security situation, governance and economic growth. ‘It is therefore imperative that the Ministry that appended its signature to such agreement for and on behalf of Government and the people of Sierra Leone be informed on the progress of projects implemented in the country thus far’, Dr. Sesay added.
The Minister of State I, further stated that engagement with USAID and implementing partners shows the level of accountability, transparency and commitment in achieving the objective set forth in the Grant Agreement signed between the Republic of Sierra Leone and the US Government acting through USAID.
In her response statement, the USAID Country Coordinator Khadijat Mojidi said that mutual accountability is critical for both the government and people of Sierra Leone and for the government and people of the United States because the assistance being offered is really one for a partnership. USAID she said, implements through third party contractors, but in terms of ensuring that what is needed is delivered on time in a manner that is impactful, the Ministry should hold itself responsible. This update meeting between the two countries, she furthered, including implementing partners, civil society, etc. should be a normal process to hold them accountable, and review progress based on plans and actual, to identify achievements and celebrate those achievements; to identify challenges and try to come up with solutions to those challenges. ‘It was the Minister’s insistence that we start this first in a series of update meeting’, she added.
The USAID Country Coordinator noted the current funding challenges they are facing is as a result of a change/shift of priority in the US following the outcome of their elections last November. ‘We are not going to be getting the budget level aswe thought – with this challenge we have to come up with a solution by scaling up our activities using the communities and private sector engaged in the country to make up the short falls’, she added.
Concluding she recommended taking the next set of meetings to the field, through site visits, talk to beneficiaries, review some of the constraints and hear from those much more involved in the day to day activities of these projects.
Update on activity presentations by implementing partners – CRS, World Vision and World Fish respectively acting through USAID climaxed the meeting followed by a question and answer session.
Present at the meeting were: the Director General and senior management staff of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, the USAID Global Health Security Agenda Advisor, CRS Country Representative, Country Directors of World Vision and World Fish organisations.