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Local economic development takes off

Local economic development takes off

Freetown, July 19 (SLENA): The Local Economic Development (LED) programme, a strategy in the Decentralization programme, designed to address the inequalities and fast track rural community development has officially been launched by Vice President, Samuel Sam Sumana (in photo).

In a keynote address to mark the event at a National Conference at the Miatta Conference Centre in Freetown, the Vice President told key stakeholders including the donor partners that the LED strategy has been acclaimed by the World Bank, ILO and other international agencies involved in the advancement of under-developed economies as the most practical means of alleviating poverty.

According to him, the LED programme places importance on activities carried out by Local Councils at city, district and regional levels to augment the national development aspirations of the central government.

Vice President Sam Sumana dilated on what he referred to as the basic principles in the LED programme which the local authorities are required to take into account in the development of their communities.

These, he went on, include poverty and under-employment which are major challenges, hence the strategy should target job creation and poverty alleviation for it sustainability. The strategy should also target disadvantaged and marginalized communities and capacitate them to fully participate in the economic life of their localities as well as to promote awareness of ownership, community involvement and local leadership in decision making which, he noted, are paramount to the success of the programme.

He also noted that partnership between communities to solve problem, embark on joint business and inspire confidence in the socio-economic transformation of localities should be taken into consideration with premium placed on the ulitilization of local resources and skills to maximize opportunities for development.

The Vice President called on the local authorities to be more proactive and promote dialogue and partnership with their people and expressed his conviction that the LED initiative will be of immense benefit to the rural areas as the fulfillment of the Agenda for Change stands for economic growth and improve the livelihood of the people.

The Vice President revealed that the government is currently undertaking a review in the economy with special reference to the Extractive Industries such as mining, agriculture, infrastructure and business promotion which he noted are receiving full support through the Agenda for Change.

In his remarks, the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Ambassador Dauda Kamara said the conference was jointly hosted by the development partners to address the challenges facing the rural areas as Sierra Leone, being a postwar country with an economy badly affected by the war, needs to improve the economy and welfare of the rural poor as a means to discourage urban migration.

The LED policy, he explained, aims at the empowerment of the local councils, engagement of the people at all Levels in local Governance, and addresses the holistic challenges in the Local Government Act.

The local councils, he suggested, can engage the private sector to embark on small scale or joint ventures, provide market facilities and ensure added values to agricultural produce.

In his own statement, the Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Sam Sesay said his Ministry is ready to boost the LED initiative to achieve success and revealed efforts made to integrate small scale farmers into large Scale as a form of protection for them to produce more.

The galaxy of speakers at the ceremony included the Country Director, UNDP, Trade Minister Dr. Richard Konteh and the Permanent Secretary, MinistrY of Agriculture, K.O. Bah and the Acting Mayor of the Freetown Municipality who welcomed the participants.

AC/OVP/SLENA

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