Sierra Leone’s President Julius Maada Bio is appealing to the international community to support his $8 billion five-year development plan.
The National Development Plan (NDP), launched on Friday, represents the administration’s Medium Term priorities for 2019 to 2023.
The document focuses on eight areas, with emphasis on human capital and infrastructural development, promotion of good governance and protection of the vulnerable.
The NDP is anchored on the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party New Direction manifesto.
Officials say for the first time in the country’s history, a comprehensive results and indicator framework accompanies a national development plan.
The NDP is the fifth national development plan since Sierra Leone emerged from 11 years civil war (1991-2002), which destroyed its infrastructure. All of those plans have been rooted on the global Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs).
Late former President Ahmad Tejan Kabba, who governed from 1996 to 2007, presided over PRSP 1 and 2. His successor Ernest Bai Koroma, presided over PRSP 3 and 4, which were famously renamed ‘Agenda for Change’ and ‘Agenda for Prosperity.’
For many critics, there was little to show in terms of development for the last 15 years, in spite of millions of dollars in aid that flowed into Sierra Leone.
The country remains at the bottom of the UN Human Development Index, raking 180 out of 187 in 2018. There was widespread poverty, with more than 60 percent of the population living on less than $ 1.25 a day, according to UNDP.
Unemployment among youths, the largest segment of the population, is 70 percent.
Aid and loans
Sierra Leone also notoriously has the world’s highest rate of maternal mortality, at 1,165 deaths per 100,000 live births, an illustration of the poor state of its health sector.
According to analysts, an estimated $10 billion in aid and loans was poured into the country between 2002 and 2007. Most of that money is believed to have come in within the last 10 years of the Koroma administration.
The new government blamed the apparent failure of the previous plans on lack of consistency in implementation and absence of political will.
President Bio has been particularly critical of his predecessor's administration, which he said handed him a “bankrupt and battered” economy.
Some two million people, out of the country’s seven million population, were consulted in the process of preparing the NDP, according to the Ministry of Planning and Economic Development.
The plan was drafted with the support of development partners, notably the UN and the British government.
The new plan also incorporates the UN Agenda 2030, as well as the African Union’s 2063 Agenda.