For the Early Recovery phase, the President selected four key sectors and initiatives that would immediately, directly and positively impact on the lives of Sierra Leoneans and the economy: 

 

  • Health – Restore basic health services throughout the country and maintain a zero rate of Ebola infection;

  • Education - Return children to school safely;

  • Social Protection – Protect most vulnerable populations including EVD survivors;

  • Private Sector – Assist private sector recovery. 

An independent evaluation of the first phase of Sierra Leone’s post Ebola recovery programme has ensured its successes, challenges and lessons learned will inform planning and delivery of the second phase of the recovery process.

The first confirmed case of Ebola in the capital city, Freetown, was documented on June 23, 2014. By the end of December 2015, over 9,000 Ebola cases had been reported in Sierra Leone, killing an estimated 3,955 people. Across all of the Ebola-affected countries in West Africa, a total of 11,315 Ebola deaths were reported in Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia and Nigeria.

​Recognising that recovery needed to be pursued alongside, and as part of the goal of, “getting to zero and staying at zero”, the President and his staff started forward-thinking on recovery in March 2015, while the fight to contain the virus was still in progress.  

 

It was also recognised that in order to bring an end to the crisis, recovery efforts needed to go beyond redressing direct development losses and invest in building greater resilience to similar shocks.  ​

By May 2015, an early recovery plan had been developed.   Four priority sectors were identified: health, education, private sector development and social protection. To ensure that they owned the process, as well as took leadership for the development and implementation of the early recovery process, the relevant Ministries, Departments or Agencies were fully involved in the planning and implementation.  

Following the International Ebola Recovery Conference, 10 July 2015 in New York, a dedicated delivery team was recruited and the responsibility to  coordinate implementation of the President's Recovery Priorities and lead planning for Phase Two was delegated to Saidu Conton-Sesay, the President's Chief of Staff.  

The Back to School initiative was launched with the objective of getting the education system back to and above pre-Ebola standards.

Its key priorities were to:

  • Maintain zero cases in schools and build back confidence in the system, through regular monitoring of IPC equipment and protocols, and fast-tracking of WASH infrastructure in the worst positioned schools.

  • Enroll students back to school by extending school attendance incentives, providing targeted support to vulnerable groups and extensive community mobilisation.​

  • Accelerate learning by focusing on the core syllabus, teacher training, simple classroom upgrades and the construction of semi-permanent structures to manage immediate overcrowding, and enhancing the current radio/TV lesson programme.

Immediate action delivered jointly by the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children's Affairs and the National Commission for Social Action to address the socio-economic needs of individuals and households left vulnerable following the Ebola epidemic included:

  • Providing income support to vulnerable households.

  • Developing and implementing a Management Information System to monitor the progress of payments and improve capacity to support vulnerable individuals and households.

  • Providing assistance packages.

  • New district-level social workers to provide psychosocial support for EVD affected individuals.

A critical combination of fragile health services, shortage of adequately trained and supervised health professionals, inadequate disposal of medical waste, shortage of medicines and medical supplies, inadequate isolation facilities and a lack of public understanding of the virus and its spread had caused the Ebola virus to thrive in Sierra Leone.

These factors, along with a broader range of critical health intervention targets, such as tuberculosis, HIV and malaria, were prioritised in Phase One of the President's Recovery Priorities.

The overarching goal was to achieve and maintain a resilient zero by ensuring patient and healthcare worker safety and to provide essential healthcare to all citizens through 41 government hospitals and 1,184 primary healthcare facilities across the country.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security and the Ministry of Trade and Industry led seven priority initiatives that broadly fell into three categories.

 

Crop 2015:  This supported up to 200,000 farmers to plant, reap and sell crops in 2015.  This also contributed towards food security, key to national growth and overall stability.

Market access infrastructure development:  With the cooperation of local farmers organisations, farmers and traders were encouraged to move into the formal sector.  Another essential objective was to connect communities to the markets by rehabilitating feeder roads.

Access to affordable financing:  Subsidised financing was provided to groups of farmers, traders and medium enterprises. Capacity building programmes targeted the district level bodies supporting these efforts. 

Lessons carried forward to Phase Two

  • Greater community engagement and improved linkages and district structures

  • More focus on data verification and data sources from the design phase

  • The need for an enhanced communications campaign for increased accountability and greater public involvement

  • The need to use priority initiative working groups, including development and implementing partners to drive problem-solving and enhanced coordination

  • Embedded capacity support at the Ministries, Departments and Agencies level

  • Focus on programme alignment and disbursement schedule at the planning stage