Support to the Electoral Cycle in Sierra Leone

What is the programme about?


With the successful conduct of the 2007 Presidential Elections, Local Council Elections in 2008 and by-elections held since, Sierra Leone has made important gains in the consolidation of its post-conflict democracy and progress towards self-sufficient administration of its democratic electoral system. Yet significant concerns remained prior to the 2012 electoral cycle. A fragile political situation characterized by political polarization and regional and ethnic divisions were at risk of becoming exacerbated during the complex 2012 electoral process that was to involve the conduct of Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Council elections.

The Support to the Electoral Cycle Cycle Programme is managed by UNDP and implemented in close cooperation with UNIPSIL, and receives support from its Elections Basket Fund partners including the European Commission (EC), the UK Department for International Development (DFID), the Government of Ireland, the Government of Germany and the UN Peacebuilding Fund. The Programme aims to further strengthen the technical capacity of Electoral Management Bodies to administer credible elections and improve public participation and confidence in the electoral process through the Support to Electoral Cycle in Sierra Leone Programme. The Programme is expected to contribute to the achievement of three main outcomes by 2014:

  1. Electoral institutions have the capacity to administer technically sound, credible and sustainable elections (with progressively less international support).
  2. Improved public confidence and participation in the electoral process, political tension and potentials for violence identified, prevented and resolved.
  3. Election-related conflict managed for peaceful polls (before, during and after).

Accomplishments so far

With the Programme’s support to Sierra Leone’s Electoral Management Bodies including the National Electoral Commission (NEC), the Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC), the Sierra Leone Police, the Office of National Security and civil society, Sierra Leone held peaceful, free and fair elections on November 17 2012, with 87% voter turnout.

The November 17 poll was a key test for democracy in Sierra Leone as well as the country’s national institutions responsible for elections, proving their ability to handle the administration of inclusive and credible elections with progressively less international support.

Over 2011 and 2012, the Programme provided critical support to national counterparts in preparing for the November polls:

  • UNDP provided extensive technical support to NEC in the design, procurement and piloting of the first ever Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) system in Sierra Leone. Pilot testing was undertaken in full public view in 14 electoral districts and feedback collected allowed NEC to further refine operational procedures and software for the roll-out of the system in 2012.
  • 170 National Electoral Commission staff and Commissioners were trained in the BVR technology, enabling them to register 2.7 million voters as well as successfully print and distribute voter identity cards across the country in the run-up to the 2012 elections.
  • NEC was supported with the procurement of all sensitive election materials. This included ballot boxes, indelible ink and ballot box seals. A total of 38,000 ballot boxes with accompanying lids and an additional 1,900 extra lids were procured. UNDP also supported NEC with the design and printing of the ballot.
  • NEC was assisted to establish regional tally centres which facilitated the more accurate and speedy counting of results.
  • Technical advice and logistical and material support for comprehensive electoral security planning was provided to the Office of National Security and the Sierra Leone Police.
  • UNDP support ensured that international standards and best practices, and views and concerns from all electoral stakeholders through consultative processes, informed the drafting of the Public Elections Law and the Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC) Act. The Public Elections Act approved by Parliament in August 2012. The law is a consolidation of previous electoral laws into one single document which established the first Electoral Offences Court in Sierra Leone and replaced the Electoral Laws Act of 2002.
  • Following a successful pilot project of District Code of Conduct Monitoring Committees (DCMCs) in which party representatives, civil society and other stakeholders were trained in conflict mediation, prevention and resolution, the PPRC began to roll out a national programme in all 14 districts, helping to diffuse tensions and acting as an early warning mechanism in the run-up to elections.
  • In close cooperation with UNIPSIL, the All Political Parties Women Association (APPWA) embarked on increasing women’s participation in political processes and the All Political Parties Youth Association (APPYA) helped to diffuse tensions through the sensitization of voters on peace and tolerance.

Who finances it?

Year Donor Amount Contributed
2011 Government of Germany US$ 446,428
2011 UN Peacebuilding Fund US$ 5,000,000
2011 Irish Aid (CPR-TTF) US$ 147,075
2011 Irish Aid US$ 1,722,515
2011 DFID US$ 8,958,999
2011 EC US$ 5,348,280
2012 Government of Germany US$ 450,000
2012 DFID US$ 9,348,483
2012 EC US$ 2,620,988
2012 Government of Japan US$ 4,000,000
2013 UNDP US$ 242, 000
2013 EC US$ 1, 344,232
2013 Germany US$ 56, 241
2013 DFID US$ 7, 035, 461
2013 Peace Building Fund (PBF) US$ 609, 047
2014 UNDP US$ 1,127,430
2014 EU US$ 1, 333,085
2014 DFID US$ 659,103
2014 PBF US$ 61,740

Delivery in previous fiscal years

Year Total Delivery
2011 US$ 11,510,480
2012 US$ 20,457,383
2013 US$ 8, 377,603
Programme Overview
Programme start date:
September 11 2011
Programme end date:
December 31 2014
Geographic coverage:
UN Transitional Joint Vision Programme Cluster
Cluster 1: Support to Good Governance
Focal point:
Esam Ismail
Chief Technical Adviser
Support to the Electoral Cycle Programme
National Electoral Commission (NEC); Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC); Sierra Leone Police (SLP); National Elections Watch (NEW); National Commission for Democracy (NCD); Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone (HRCSL); Independent Media Commission (IMC); Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC); All Political Parties Youth Association (APPYA); All Political Parties Women’s Association (APPWA)
UK Department for International Development (DFID); European Commission (EC); Irish Aid; Irish Aid Conflict Prevention and Recovery Thematic Trust Fund (CPR-TTF); UN Peacebuilding Fund (PBF); Government of Germany; Government of Sierra Leone; UNDP
Budget (2014):
US$ 3,285, 737