On 19 February 2014, the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development officially opened the District Refrigerated Room developed with support from UNDP/UNCDF under the Local Governance and Economic Development Joint-Programme (LGED-JP). This is the result of the new planning and budgeting systems introduced by UNDP/UNCDF: the Local Economic Development (LED) approach. Under the LED, LCs engage with private sector and CSOs in participatory planning and budgeting for economic investments in value chain development and market linkages to create jobs and business opportunities for the communities especially women and the youth. LED was launched in July 2012 by the Vice-President of the Republic of Sierra Leone as a way of achieving the Agenda for Prosperity at the local and community level (see more at www.uncdf.org/sierra-leone)
The Facility located at Tongo Fields is equipped with a 20ft refrigerated container, a 30KVA generator, 6 deep freezers and a 20 ton truck. Among the added values of the project, it was 20 direct jobs (2 females, 18 males) and 7 indirect jobs (all women) were recorded during its construction phase.
The Facility will be run as a private business. Kenema District Council will enter into a Partnership with a private company (PPP) for the management of the facility. Under the arrangement, it is anticipated that:
- The private partners will have the full responsibility to manage the facility including staff and assets and to pay rental fees and local taxes to the Council which will be re-invested to improve service delivery;
- The management of the facility will provide 6 permanent jobs (3 males, 3 females) and 30 indirect employments (5 males, 25 females). These numbers are expected to increase over time.
- An estimated 101,183 people are expected to be reached out daily as direct beneficiaries of the Cold Room in Lower Bambara, Malegohun and Gorama Kono chiefdoms in the Kenema District and the neighboring Kono district.
- An estimated 200 small business opportunities will be offered to the population of Kenema district especially retailers, cooperatives of producers, fishing association, butchers unions , water purification factories, etc.
The cost of the infrastructure, machines and equipment is USD 200,000 funded by UNCDF/UNDP. The support also included arrangements for the Ministry of Works to supervise the construction of the infrastructure and ensure compliance with the national standards and civil construction policies in Sierra Leone. UNDP/UNCDF also supported capacity strengthening of the District Council by sending 5 staff for training in Swaziland on the key functional areas of LED: Planning and Budgeting, Strategic procurement, Monitoring and Evaluation, Record Management, Internal Auditing and resource mobilization. The Staff were exposed to international experience and could exchange lessons learned with their counterpart from other countries. In order to ensure the utilization of the new skills acquired, each participant was offered a brand new laptop with up to date software.
According to the Press Release by the Council, the LED approach has changed the Council mindset in Public Expenditure and Financial Managements for local development. Through the LED, economic investments in the localities are only eligible if they provide evidence of real positive impact on the lives of people with specific attention to the needs of women, the youth and vulnerable groups.
The completion of the Cold Room will enhance Value chain development and food security in Kenema District offering the possibility for safe meat, fish and vegetable storage and long term conservation for perishable food and ice block processing. This investment has thus created a new ring in the food chain from farmers and cattle rearers to traders, especially women and onto the final consumers This will improve the availability of protein food and thus increasing access to these most essential food commodities for the local population.
The commissioning of this KDC socioeconomic investment follows similar achievement by the same council, Kenema City Council (see more www.uncdf.org/en/node/1962) and the Moyamba District Council in 2013. A similar programme is being completed in Tonkolili District Council.