Beneficiaries of ECOWAS Peace and Development Project campaign for its sustainability when African Developemnt Bank funding expire in June this year

By Maureen Chigbo  |  May 20, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT

BEFORE she was displaced from her country of origin during the Liberian crisis, Marion Sawyer, could not have imagined a life as a refugee. She is now one of the beneficiaries of the Peace and Development Project, PADEP, being implemented by the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, in collaboration with the African Development Bank, AfDB. Even though Sawyer has been long integrated into the urban settlement for refugees in the Bo Urban in Sierra Leone, she and her fellow displaced refugees may not reinvent their lives fully at the refugee camps in the four countries where the PADEP project is sited because the funding for the project is drying up. The $15-million project funded by AfDB is ending in June.

This is why Sawyer and other refugees are appealing to donors and development agencies to help to sustain the project which have benefited thousands of displaced persons as a result of internal conflicts in their countries. Sawyer, who expressed gratitude to ECOWAS and PADEP partners, including the government of Sierra Leone, carried her campaign for the sustainability of the project to the just-ended stakeholders’ forum organised by ECOWAS in Freetown, Sierra Leone. The participants included representatives of UN agencies, government officials, NGOs, civil society organisations, as well as host communities and beneficiaries of the PADEP project in the country. Sawyer, who spoke on behalf of her compatriots who have chosen to be integrated into the Sierra Leone society. She said they needed more support in the area of women and youth empowerment, access to education for their children, skills training and other livelihood support.

Charles Kemboya, another ex-Liberian refugee, said that some of the shelters at the resettlement sites needed rehabilitation, while the land needed to be properly demarcated to avoid possible encroachment and friction between host communities and the former refugees.

Lending voice to the appeal of the refugees, participants at the forum called for uninterrupted funding for and sustainability of the ECOWAS peace support initiatives, especially the resettlement and rehabilitation of thousands of conflict displaced persons in the region.

Participants also made a strong appeal for the sustainability of the project gains and continued support for the displaced. Jean Bosco Rushatsi, country representative of the UN High Commission for Refugees, UNHCR, commended ECOWAS and the African Development Bank for the impactful project. The commission is the implementing partner of the PADEP humanitarian support activities in the four countries, He stressed the need for development partners to ensure the sustainability of the gains, transfer of ownership to the beneficiaries and continued support to enable them continue their normal lives outside their home country.

Dieudonne Nikiema, manager of the ECOWAS Peace Fund, EPF, which coordinates the PADEP Project for the ECOWAS Commission, who was represented by Gloria Ugwunze, outlined the project objectives, achievements, challenges and the goals of the six-day ECOWAS evaluation mission. According to her, PADEP’s key objectives are “to contribute to promoting peace in ECOWAS member states, as well as strengthen the institutional capacities of ECOWAS and civil society organisations in countries experiencing conflict, with a view to achieving coordination and implementation of conflict management and preventive actions in an environment characterized by good governance.”

As the project comes to a close, the priorities now are to address and strengthen its ownership and visibility through an effective exit strategy, so as to ensure sustainability of the project gains and also to document the achievements and the lessons learnt, Ugwunze said.

Sandy Jambawai, who represented the African Development Bank at the forum, reaffirmed the Bank’s continued support to ECOWAS in promoting peace and regional integration by  mitigating the humanitarian consequences of conflicts. He commended the forum as timely saying it coincided with the preparation of the Bank’s Country Strategy Paper, which is focusing on Local Economic Development, LED, programme.

John, Sumailah, development secretary in the ministry of finance and economic development, who chaired the meeting, said the lessons learnt from the PADEP project should prepare the minds of development partners on future support to conflict displaced populations in the region.

“We have to bring our collective wisdom to bear on how to assist our distressed brothers and sisters and their children, beyond the end of the PADEP project,” he added.

Donald Kaberuka
Donald Kaberuka

Over the past seven years, the support to ECOWAS PADEP, which is funded by the African Development Bank, AfDB, has been promoting the culture of peace, regional integration as well as providing vital humanitarian assistance to populations displaced by conflicts in member states. However, the $15-million project implemented in four pilot post-conflict countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Guinea Bissau ends in June this year.

The forum and a press conference on May 3, were part of the six-day project assessment mission to Sierra Leone by the ECOWAS delegation. The events were attended, among others, by Sierra Leone Government officials; representatives of UNHCR, the National Commission for Social Action, NaCSA; host communities and former Liberian refugees now integrated into the Sierra Leone society, as well as Yusuf Benga Somma, head of ECOWAS Unit in Sierra Leone, from the Finance and Economic Development Ministry, which oversees ECOWAS affairs in the country.

Before the forum, the ECOWAS team, which included Paul Ejime of the Commission’s Communication Directorate, Gibril Camara of the Financial Controller’s Office, Zakaria Kieta, Country Coordinator of ECOWAS Volunteers Programme, and Wilfred Ewaleifoh, head of the Nigerian Television Authority, NTA, crew gathering materials for the production of documentaries for enhanced visibility of the PADEP project, had separate meetings with UNHCR, African Development Bank and NaCSA officials.

The delegation, which paid courtesy visits to the government ministries represented at the forum, also undertook field visits to resettlement sites in Kenema District – Hangha, Gbenderu, Jembe, Gerihun, Bandajuma and Banduma, East of Freetown – as well as Bo urban and Kissi Town near Water Loo, West of Freetown, where the PADEP project is supporting former Liberian refugees with housing, micro economic, education, health, sanitation and other social services.

The PADEP project is in three dimensions including direct support to ECOWAS Member States through the provision of humanitarian assistance to displaced persons, and the ECOWAS Volunteers Programme, under which young West Africans with expertise in various disciplines are deployed to post-conflict countries to help promote socio-economic development and integration, especially of local communities.

Its third pillar focuses on the promotion of the culture of peace, through the development of a Reference Manual on the Peace Culture, Citizenship and Human Rights, to be popularized using various platforms including its incorporation into primary and secondary school curricula across the region. A similar ECOWAS evaluation mission has been to Liberia and is underway in Guinea and Guinea Bissau.

2 thoughts on “Let PADEP Be

  1. Article is interesting, but i wonder where i can find good company for pre settlement funding, any ideas?

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