The United States Government, in collaboration with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), unveiled a groundbreaking initiative on October 26, 2023, in Freetown. This partnership aims to enhance citizen participation and improve public access to information in Sierra Leone.
The initiative, named “Building Accountability Systems through Empowered Communities” (BASE), was officially launched on October 26, 2023, in Freetown, Sierra Leone. With a budget of $3.38 million over the course of three years, this program will have a substantial impact on Sierra Leone’s democratic processes and transparency. It will be rolled out in several districts, including Western Rural, Moyamba, Karene, Falaba, Tonkolili, and Kono.
During the launch event, U.S. Ambassador to Sierra Leone, Bryan David Hunt, emphasized the enduring commitment of the United States to the people of Sierra Leone and their democratic journey. He underscored the fundamental role of citizen engagement in shaping Government policies and programs, asserting that the strength of Sierra Leone’s democracy relies on active citizen participation.
Hunt stated, “Citizen participation in democratic governance and decision-making is a cornerstone of good governance. It reinforces the social contract between Government and its citizens, fostering trust in Government institutions and the political process.”
Given Sierra Leone’s youthful population, where nearly 80 percent are under the age of 34, Ambassador Hunt stressed the importance of involving young people and women in decision-making processes. He highlighted the significance of tapping into the potential of these demographic groups for transparency, accountability, and the overall well-being of Sierra Leoneans. The “Building Accountability Systems through Empowered Communities” initiative will prioritize empowering women and youth, enabling them to play a pivotal role in promoting good governance and peace.
The launch of this program comes at a crucial time, following the signing of the Agreement for National Cohesion between the Sierra Leonean Government and the opposition All Peoples’ Congress. Hunt expressed optimism that the partnership would equip ordinary Sierra Leoneans with the skills and tools needed to ensure their voices are heard in critical national processes.
In his concluding remarks, Ambassador Hunt reaffirmed, “Citizen participation in their country’s governance is not just a privilege; it is both a right and a responsibility. The United States will continue working in partnership with Sierra Leone to nurture democracy and good governance through citizen participation. Whether through the Building Accountability Systems through Empowered Communities partnership or our various other development initiatives, the United States is unwavering in its commitment to standing with the people of Sierra Leone and jointly advancing democracy, health, and prosperity.”
This partnership signifies a significant step forward in advancing Sierra Leone’s development agenda and fostering inclusive governance, with a specific focus on engaging youth and women in shaping the nation’s future.