Since 1991, when the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) first conducted a pre-election assessment mission, IFES has worked in Sierra Leone to support free, fair, credible and inclusive electoral processes. The initial assessment in Sierra Leone examined the legal structure underpinning the electoral processes, ballot distribution, polling procedures, voter education and training of election officers. Additional pre-election technical assessments followed in 1995 and 1999 to assess the state of election preparedness and develop prioritized recommendations for strengthening election administration and the electoral process.
From 2011 to 2013, IFES worked in Sierra Leone under the Promotion of Inclusive Elections in Sierra Leone project funded by the United States Agency for International Development. The objective of the project was to provide targeted technical assistance to the National Electoral Commission (NEC), political parties and civil society actors. This program also focused on building partnerships among civil society organization (CSO) stakeholders, the media, the NEC and other government agencies to strengthen the capacity of CSOs and the media to effectively deliver messages of inclusiveness and non-violence in the electoral period.
Since 2017, IFES has worked to strengthen the capacity of local partners to promote credible, inclusive and transparent elections through supporting media outreach and voter education initiatives in Sierra Leone. With our partners from the National Democratic Institute, the International Republican Institute, Search for Common Ground and Internews, the program seeks to promote meaningful participation of all citizens in their political systems, including women, youth and other traditionally marginalized groups, by incorporating the comparative advantages of media and technology to promote understanding, engagement and transparent political competition. In particular, IFES is conducting media outreach and voter education through innovative strategies that allow citizens to directly engage on electoral issues through radio, print and social media.
IFES’ key areas of work in Sierra Leone have been:
- Voter education
- Inclusion of traditional marginalized groups in electoral processes
- National election administration
- Media messaging
- Technical assessments