Cablegate: Embassy/Freetown Science Fellows Request

DE RUEHFN #0189/01 1091626
R 181626Z APR 08




Department Please pass to OES/STC FOR EILEEN KANE

E.O. 12958: N/A


1. Embassy Freetown greatly appreciates the opportunity to
submit two proposals in response to reftel A, each addressing
priority and urgent needs. With a small USAID/Sierra Leone
budget, Post is limited in its ability to assist the new
Government of Sierra Leone (GoSL) in several key areas of need,
agriculture and health. Sierra Leone is one of the poorest
nations in the world and is at the bottom of the UN Human
Development Index. While in Washington Ambassador Perry
requested opportunities for the USG to increase support to
Sierra Leone through additional short to medium term technical
assistance in agriculture and health (Ref. B). Post believes
this is a perfect opportunity to meet this request and serve
these needs.

2. All Embassy Agencies have participated in this process and
fully endorse both proposals. Post also is firmly committed to
providing the required logistical support, specifically housing.
Due to the dire situation in Sierra Leone, Post requests serious
consideration of both proposals and hopes for a favorable
response to both of them as well. We stand ready to support and
assist both Embassy Science Fellows.

--------------------------------------------- -
Proposal Number One: Ministry of Agriculture
--------------------------------------------- -

3. This is an urgent priority request. The Minister of
Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security (MFFS) requests three-
months direct technical assistance from the Embassy Science
Fellow program to his Ministry to help in the review, update and
formulation of the new Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and
Food Security 10-15-year "National Agriculture Research, Policy,
Strategy and Program" document. The expert Fellow is expected to
work with technical experts from the Ministry of Agriculture,
and other relevant ministries, and the FAO during the strategy
review, update and formulation process.

4. The Minister requests the expert(s) to be knowledgeable in
policy and strategy formulation and planning, with a sound
technical background in the following areas, in this tentative

--Agricultural Economics
--Research and Extension
--Private Sector Promotion
--Institutional Capacity Building for counterparts in the

5. The Minister outlined the new vision for the agriculture
sector and is in dire need of modern thinkers with current
technological expertise to work as part of a core team. Some
specific areas of focus include: the role of macroeconomics in
increasing wealth, GDP and income, focusing more on farmer
associations which can increase production and reduce costs.
Research, extension, private sector promotion and irrigation are
top priorities in the new agriculture sector development vision.

6. Related to this vision is the Minister's acknowledgment of
the extreme paucity of appropriate skills, knowledge and talent
in his Ministry. He is therefore requesting support to
strengthen the Ministry?s capacities. The Fellow could form part
of a select design team to draft an action plan for the
institutional capacity building of the Ministry of Agriculture.

7. COMMENT: One of Post's major priorities is fostering economic
growth through the rejuvenation of the agriculture sector of
Sierra Leone, once a country of agricultural abundance. This
priority will be met primarily through USAID/Sierra Leone's
program, about half of which supports agriculture and
agribusiness development. Post provides some technical
assistance and training, but mostly at the local level (i.e.,
working with farmers, farm associations and communities). USAID
has insufficient funds to provide the essential, urgent,
intensive "one-on-one" technical assistance support that the
Ministry requested. Post views this request as urgent and a top
priority in order to assist the Ministry to address the rapidly
escalating food crisis. As a country with a major rice-
producing history, Sierra Leone stands well-placed to regain its
agricultural surplus status. The Minister, himself a PhD
agricultural economist, has promised full commitment to ensuring
the best significant use of an Embassy Science Fellow in his
Ministry. He noted that a U.S. contribution of expertise will be
a substantive contribution to the development of the Sierra
Leone's new "National Agriculture Research, Policy, Strategy and
Program." END COMMENT.


FREETOWN 00000189 002 OF 002


8. Currently, Sierra Leone has the highest under-five infant
mortality rate in the world. Primary contributing factors to
this are malnutrition, infectious diseases, and lack of access
to trained health care providers.

9. To address this problem, Njala University has established a
number of institutions, including the Institutes of Home
Sciences, Environmental Management and Quality Control, in
addition to Departments of Nursing and Environmental Health. The
university drafted a road map to define how these different
university institutions can address the contributing factors
identified above.

10. A skilled expert could provide an executive review of the
roadmap and establish a set of implementation recommendations to
maximize effectiveness within this resource-poor environment.

11. Within a three-month period, a skilled expert could:

--Assess the ability of the individual departments to perform
their respective tasks;

--Recommend corrections and deficiencies in their respective
curricula, faculties and facilities; and

--Recommend external sponsors and provide assistance in
writing proposals to those organizations.

12. Again, Post appreciates the opportunity to submit these two
top priority proposals. We look forward to a positive response.


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