UNCDF in Sierra Leone

UNCDF in Sierra Leone

The Challenge

Since its emergence from a decade of civil war in 2002, Sierra Leone has experienced substantial economic growth. However, poverty and unemployment remain major challenges, and the country’s infrastructure continues to suffer the consequences of years of mismanagement and neglect. Sierra Leone’s Human Development Index value for 2012 positioned the country at 177 out of 187 countries.

How We Are Helping?

UNCDF has been helping Sierra Leone to meet its development challenges by supporting local economic development initiatives and conditions for an inclusive financial sector. The Local Governance and Economic Development Joint Programme (LGED-JP) was designed by UNDP/UNCDF and the Government of Sierra Leone to support the decentralization of governance and the building of the local government system. It responds to the Government of Sierra Leone priority areas: addressing pro-poor growth, and promoting the decentralization policy and devolution of functions to local governments.

In Sierra Leone UNCDF is also implementing its Gender Equitable Development (GELD) programme, which aims at strengthening local government’s capacities in gender planning and budgeting.

In inclusive finance, the UNCDF Microfinance Sector Development Programme (MITAF II) supports the development of a competitive and sustainable inclusive microfinance sector that provides access to financial services for poor and low-income people and small businesses. Interventions here aim to strengthen the microfinance industry itself, and to create an environment that supports the microfinance industry over the long-term. This project is jointly supported by UNCDF, UNDP, Liechtenstein, KFW Bankengruppe and Cordaid.

With a total budget jointly funded by UNCDF, UNDP, KfW, and CORDAID; and in partnership with Financial Sector Development Program of the Government of Sierra Leone, MITAF II aims at its end at providing access to financial services to around 390,000 active clients, up from 123,000 during its first phase. Funding for the programme remains open to other donors interested in the microfinance sector in Sierra Leone.

In Detail


Local Governance and Economic Development Joint Programme (LGED-JP)

Goal To support the decentralization of governance and the building of the local government system.
  • Supporting the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD) to continue the decentralization process and build the capacity of governance institutions in the districts;
  • Enabling the local councils to play a leadership role in the process of Local Economic Development (LED);
  • Supporting local councils to carry out pro-poor investments.
Period 2011-2014
Partners UNCDF, UNDP, Government of Sierra Leone.
Total project cost and UNCDF contribution USD 3,254, 958
USD 800,000

Gender Equitable Local Development (GELD)

Goal To support gender-responsive planning, programming and budgeting at the local level.
  • Offering capital investment grants for gender-responsive development;
  • Empowering women and men to engage in a gender-sensitive way on development issues; 
  • Supporting local governance authorities and institutions to deliver services in a gender-responsive way.
Period 2009-2012
Partners UNCDF, UN Women, Governments of Belgium and Austria.
Total project cost and UNCDF contribution USD 8,123,953
USD 7,848,000

Microfinance Sector Development (MITAF II)

Goal To support emergence of a competitive and sustainable inclusive financial sector that provides access to financial services to poor and low-income people in general and micro and small businesses in particular with a special focus on rural areas.
  • Improving capacity and outreach of financial services providers in semi-urban and rural areas;
  • Improving the availability of additional capital to partner Financial Service Providers (FSPs) in semi-urban and rural areas through appropriate instruments and linkages; 
  • Strengthening support infrastructure for the sector;
  • Improving regulatory environment for inclusive finance.
Period 2011-2015
Partners UNCDF, UNDP, Liechtenstein, KFW, Cordaid.
Total project cost and UNCDF contribution USD 20,015,000
USD 2,325,000


Goal To increase access to financial services, particularly savings, by supporting the expansion of microfinance savings-led market leaders in underserved countries.
  • Offering grants and loans that incentivize leading providers to start up new, or strengthen existing financial institutions that target low-income people, especially with savings, in underserved areas, particularly countries struggling to recover from crisis and conflict;
  • Through a competitive process to select leading indigenous microfinance providers from developing countries to expand their reach by implementing a variety of approaches including greenfields, transformations of MFIs to formally regulated deposit-taking institutions, and providing technical assistance to in-country MFIs;
  • Supporting technical advisors who work to help those providers to develop the institutional capacity to extend their reach.
Period 2008-2017
Partners UNCDF, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, The Mastercard Foundation, LIFT Myanmar.
Total project cost and UNCDF contribution USD 58,562,939
USD 7,871,850

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