For nearly two years, the Institute for Governance Reform, (IGR) has produced high quality research reports and analytical papers that are broadening the parameters of public debates on democracy, institutional change and public financial management in Sierra Leone. In this Strategic Plan for 2016–2019, we present a vision that describes how we will work with our partners to be even more effective in achieving this aim.

Our decision to develop a four-year Plan reflects our long-term view of working with citizen groups and government agencies to shift the focus from short-term electoral and macroeconomic outcomes to advancing policies and programs that will protect and secure the next generation.Strengthening citizen’s oversight of the economy and consolidating democracy are critical investments for the wealth and stability of our next generation of Sierra Leoneans especially the women and girls and the youth.

We know there are successes: Sierra Leone is improving its road infrastructure, rebuilding health systems after Ebola, improving its energy sector, creating greater access to clean water and opening community banks in rural areas.However, investments in governance have not translated into greater socio-economic resilience. This is particularly evident among women, children,youth, and citizens in remote communities which bear the brunt of poverty and exclusion. Persistent failures ofthe mining companies, weak public accountability and poor health and education services highlight the need for building effective governance institutions and bringing citizen pressure to bear on reforms.

In the last two years, we have introduced new approaches to evidence-based advocacy and have influenced major policies to support effective economic planning and democratic competition in Sierra Leone. We are building on the investments made in civil society strengthening since the end of the war and now believe that Sierra Leone is at a stage to reap the rewards of reforms by having a stronger citizenry advocating for improved living conditions and accountable governance. Donors and government alone cannot address Sierra Leone’s socio-economic failures; it requires the active role of citizens demanding openness of economic and political governance institutions to help secure a better future for themselves.

Looking ahead, we identify three major challenges for our country. How can we use free, fair and open elections to manage diversity? How can Sierra Leone learn from its past and make post-Ebola recovery projects contribute to real transformation in the delivery of basic services? How can citizen demand for greater public financial accountability translate into improved services and building a cohesive state?In each of these challenges, IGR sees many important research questions and programming opportunities. We recognise that making these changes is enormous and complex. We will work with our partners in key institutions within and outside government over the next four years in pursuing the desired changes.

This Plan for the next four years provides the basis on which we will develop our resource mobilization strategy, outlines our approach to assessing progress toward our goals and sets out a platform for our engagement with partners. We call on government and all stakeholders to join IGR in our objective of securing the interests of the next generation.