New Sierra Leone Think Tank To Build Sustainable Anti-Trafficking Impact
Monday, May 2, 2022
A new anti-trafficking think tank based in Sierra Leone will advise and assist on current efforts to reduce child trafficking in the country and help create a sustainable national plan to combat human trafficking long term.
The think tank is founded by the African Programming & Research Initiative to End Slavery (APRIES) at the University of Georgia’s Center on Human Trafficking Research & Outreach (CenHTRO), which conducts projects to estimate and reduce the prevalence of child trafficking in Sierra Leone.
The APRIES think tank consultants are Sia Lajaku-Williams, Reuben Lewis, and Haja Wurie, who hold expertises in the areas of programming, policy analysis, and research, respectively. They will boost the profile of APRIES’ anti-trafficking research and programs, funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of State Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. The consultants will also help develop and strengthen plans for Sierra Leone to sustainably combat human trafficking after the APRIES grant ends.
“For international research and programming collaborations to be successful and sustainable, local ownership, participation, and contributions are critical,” said CenHTRO Director Dr. David Okech. “Honoring local tacit knowledge and expertise is a win-win for CenHTRO and the countries we work in. We are looking forward to working with Dr. Wurie, Dr. Lewis, and Mrs. Lajaku-Williams in entrenching and sustaining our initiatives in the country.”
APRIES research found that a high number of children in Sierra Leone’s Eastern Province will experience child trafficking before turning 18. This research informs projects designed by APRIES that aim to reduce child trafficking by improving local, regional, and national response to the issue.
The think tank will help APRIES conduct its mission by writing for public and academic
audiences, making media appearances on APRIES’ behalf, networking with anti-trafficking
stakeholders, and other strategic activities that spread awareness about human trafficking
in Sierra Leone.
“I’m very passionate about child protection issues and child trafficking is very prevalent,”
Lajaku-Williams said. “Whatever way I can support to address this issue, I want to
make sure that I do that.”
“I’m excited to get involved in developing policies that will be responsive to countering
human trafficking and especially child trafficking,” Lewis said.
“One of the things that stands out for me about the [APRIES] program is that it has brought in local consultants that can bring embedded insights,” Wurie said. “I think that goes a long way in supporting local ownership, local leadership, and sustainability.”
The work described in this article was funded by a grant from the United States Department of State. The opinions, findings and conclusions stated herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the United States Department of State.