Minister of Planning and Economic Development (MoPED), Madam Kenyeh Barlay and Madam Seraphine Wakana, UN Resident Coordinator in Sierra Leone, on Thursday 6th June 2024 led a successful discussion with key ministries including Information and Civic Education, Youth Affairs, Gender and Children’s Affairs, and Political and Public Affairs. The meeting focused on the allocation of Peace-building Funds (PBF) to support social cohesion and nation-building efforts in Sierra Leone.

PBF annually allocates funds to the UN Country Team (UNCT) to aid government Peace-Building initiatives. In light of the recent Agreement for National Unity aimed at resolving political conflicts, PBF has decided to allocate new funds to support nationwide social cohesion efforts. Three UN agencies—UNDP, UNICEF, and UN Women were selected to develop a proposal in partnership with the government.

A concept note is to be presented to PBF by 15th June. MoPED and the UN Resident Coordinator convene key ministers for a consultation process to address social cohesion and nation-building effectively. The focus was on integrating a few key aspects of social cohesion into a cohesive project proposal.

Previously, some ministries benefited from PBF support without MoPED’s full involvement. Now, MoPED will increase its coordination role, considering establishing a PBF Steering Committee for high-level advisory and oversight.

The meeting aimed to designate a lead minister to collaborate with UN agencies on delivering the concept note, aligning it with Sierra Leone’s Development Plan and UNCT cooperation framework. The proposal will address social cohesion amid growing political and social tensions from the 2023 electoral period and the rise of hate speech on social media.

The three proposed intervention areas are: Preventing hate speech and promoting peace, political, and civic engagement; Supporting local peace infrastructures in selected communities; and Empowering youth as key actors in Peace-Building activities

Innovative approaches include preventing misinformation, promoting active citizenship, and fostering inter-generational dialogues for social cohesion where highlighted. The Ministry of Political and Public Affairs was later designate the best-positioned ministry to lead and coordinate the implementation process.