United States assistance in Sierra Leone is vital to maintaining peace and security and ensuring the development of the countries of the Mano River basin. Since 1961, USAID has helped Sierra Leone gain political stability, achieve food security and strengthen democratic governance through targeted assistance to key sectors such as education and agriculture. In 1974, the U.S. downgraded its development assistance for almost two and half decades, resuming full operations in 1999 to help bring closure to the country’s civil war. Using a two-pronged approach during the war years (1991-2002), USAID provided humanitarian and emergency assistance, promoted reintegration and reconciliation, and supported the implementation of the Lome Peace Accord which brought an end to the decade-long civil war.
In 2000, the U.S. Government reignited its programs in Sierra Leone, aiming to reduce the threat of regional destabilization, to raise awareness of the widespread atrocities that were committed during the civil war, and to increase international support for the government and the people of Sierra Leone.
During the Transition Strategy from 2001-2003, USAID focused on the social and economic reintegration of war torn communities including disarmament and reconciliation, and strengthening democratic governance. A limited program transitioned into a broader assistance portfolio with USAID’s mission in Guinea providing overall coordination and oversight for the Sierra Leone program.
Since 2006, USAID has identified opportunities to enhance democratic governance. It has supported legitimate and transparent trade in diamonds through the Kimberly process, and promoted equitable benefits to communities; it has used community engagement and mass media to support the way government, citizens, and civil society work and interact at all levels; it has helped to improve the income of rural households; and it has increased and led participatory management of forest resources.
Moving forward, USAID will build upon current gains in Sierra Leone to deepen good governance programs and to foster economic growth through public-private partnerships on its path towards a peaceful and prosperous future.
Last updated: December 15, 2015