Sierra Leone

Speeches Shim

1997 - 2002


After nearly a decade of conflict, national presidential elections were held in Sierra Leone in 1996, and a transition from war to peace seemed underway. Yet the remnants of the nation’s terrifying and destructive war were embodied in its youthful population. Exploited and discarded by military groups, particularly the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), Sierra Leone’s youth became virtual commodities during the war. To address these complex issues and assist with the transition to peace, USAID/OTI began a Sierra Leone program in 1997.  


USAID/OTI’s goal was to help bring closure to the war and support the reconciliation and reintegration process. To achieve this goal, USAID/OTI sought to:

  • Move the peace process toward consolidation and strengthen civil society’s peacebuilding initiatives;
  • Assist the reintegration of ex-combatants into war-torn communities and provide remedial education for youth bypassed by schooling during 10 years of war;
  • Enable effective control and monitoring of conflict diamonds and increase the benefits of diamond mining to the communities involved in their production; and
  • Empower civilians to help prevent the recurrence of violence.


  • Youth Reintegration Training and Education for Peace (YRTEP) program: USAID/OTI’s YRTEP program was a two-year, nationwide, non-formal education initiative for 40,000 ex-combatant and noncombatant young adults. The program combined reintegration orientation and counseling, life-skills training, vocational counseling, agriculture skills development, civic education and functional literacy training. Originally focused on reintegration of war-torn communities and remedial education for youth who left school early, the program expanded to include a second track “Education for Nation-Building,” an adult non-formal education initiative for public and private sector leaders nationwide.
  • Diamond Management Program (DMP): USAID/OTI’s DMP sought to help the Sierra Leonean government both reduce the trade in diamonds that spurred warfare and increase the proportion of diamonds that flowed through official, government-controlled channels. USAID/OTI advisers were also actively involved in the international effort to establish the Kimberley Process.
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