Title: Parallel routes to recovery: community priorities and NGO policy in the post civil war reconstruction of Sierra Leone

Authors: David King

Addresses: James Cook University, Townsville and Cairns, Queensland, Australia

Abstract: Developing countries experience a lack of resources, trained personnel and infrastructure that constrains their ability to cope with and recover from major disasters. Consequently they are reliant on support from external countries, but in particular the support of non-government development and relief organisations during the processes of response and recovery. Against this background of NGO (Non-Government Organisations) involvement, the NGOs themselves have been evolving through a process of adaptation to new responsibilities that challenge their capabilities, accountability and levels of involvement. The ten-year civil war in Sierra Leone resulted in enormous displacement of the population, issues relating to the problems of reintegrating child combatants and those who were maimed and traumatised in the war, and widespread destruction of housing, service facilities and infrastructure. While its economy had been in decline for more than a decade before 1990, the war dominated all sectors of the economy, reducing Sierra Leone to the status of one of the world|s poorest countries. In the face of this devastation the government and the citizens are especially poorly resourced for the enormity of the reconstruction. Government policy was developed to encourage NGO to bring funds and personnel to the nation to work in partnership towards rebuilding the country|s infrastructure and serving the needs of the people. The result has been a proliferation in the number of NGOs establishing themselves in the capital, Freetown, and in a piecemeal manner in the provinces. The variety and diversity of these organisations present difficulties and contradictions in the coordination of a policy of reconstruction and recovery. While NGOs provide recovery facilities for portions of the country, most of the citizens of Sierra Leone began independently reconstructing their own communities, within a preexisting traditional framework that was poorly integrated with the formal recovery programme.

Keywords: disaster recovery; Non-Governmental Organisations; NGOs; developing countries; civil war; accountability; community priorities; NGO policy; reconstruction; Sierra Leone; population displacement; child combatants; reintegration; infrastructure rebuilding; emergency management.

DOI: 10.1504/IJEM.2005.007356

International Journal of Emergency Management, 2005 Vol.2 No.3, pp.149 - 162

Published online: 11 Jul 2005 *

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