The Kono District Development Association UK (KDDA UK)is a charitable organisation registered with the Charity Commission in the UK. The organisation has been in existence in various forms since the 1950s. However, it was registered as a charity in the England and Wales on 26th February 2015 with Charity No: 1160673.
Before 2012, KDDA UK was first a student’s union and later a social group in the UK formed to bring together descendants of Kono District in Sierra Leone. Since the early 1990’s KDDA UK has undertaken advocacy and its members have aspired to provide services in the UK and Sierra Leone and become a charity. In 2010, KDDA UK’s members agreed to focus on sustainable development and human rights in the Kono District, social and support services in the UK and bring together descendants of Kono District in the UK and Sierra Leone. This is reflected in the 2013 constitution (amended in 2015).The organisation also brings descendants of Kono District together to advocate for their rights to central and local governments of Sierra Leone and the UK, civil society and human rights organisations. The Kono people have suffered a lot at the hands of many political institutions and international corporations and they want this to stop. KDDA UK also networks with international minority and human right groups to increase their understanding and effectiveness in tackling exploitation, persecution and issues relating to disadvantaged and vulnerable groups.
The increasing scale of mining in the Kono district by companies that do not adhere to their social corporate responsibilities means that our people are suffering even more. The corporations, such as Koidu Holdings Ltd (OCTEA) displace the people from their homes by their mining activities, into undersized and poorly built shelters that do not match the quality of their original homes.
The company’s activities have also caused devastating environmental impacts, blasting impacts on buildings, infrastructure and people’s health, mass displacement that have had significant social impacts on communities, community life, schools, and families, and have created political instability, and human rights abuses against the indigenous ethnic group.
In 2013, to support the local governments sustainable development programme in local communities in the Kono district the KDDA UK undertook projects to ship a 20-foot container to two hospitals in Kono, filled with medical equipment, medical educational resources, hospital beds, and bedsheets to cover at least two 40-bedded wards. In October 2014 during the EBOLA epidemic in Sierra Leone, KDDA UK raised funds in UK to support the government of Sierra Leone and the Kono District Council’s fight against the spread of Ebola in the country. The charity shipped personal protective equipment to Sierra Leone and distributed it among all 14 chiefdoms of the Kono District. Members were also active in sensitising local populations and advocating to Non Governmental Organisation (NGO)’s and the UK government for a more urgent and preventative response. KDDAUK was instrumental in mobilising the Sierra Leone UK Diaspora Ebola Response Taskforce to hold a Diaspora and NGO conference in November 2014, which many NGO’s and the UK Minister for Public Health among others, attended. KDDAUK had representation on the conference coordination team. The Conference had positive impact on policy in that it resulted in some changes to emergency response strategies by the major players.
Since 2012, Kono language and culture classes and curriculum design have been developed and are ongoing. Children and adults attended the classes for free. From 2012, we have actively employed social media including website, Facebook, What’s App, Twitter and Email to communicate with and campaign to stakeholders and beneficiaries. This has been effective in creating community cohesion, galvanising communities, promoting Diaspora campaigns, provoking debate and dialogue, fundraising, ticket and event promotion and facilitating local community action. In 2014, we also launched the KDDAUK Youth Movement Blog [https://kddayouth.wordpress.com] that is now run by the youths of Kono descent. Since 2012, KDDA UK has campaigned, helped mobilise others’ campaigns and put pressure on the government of Sierra Leone and the UK government for human right abuses and social and political suppression in Kono and in Sierra Leone at large. These atrocities include arbitrary killings, arrests and detentions. It also included unconstitutional removal of the vice president of Sierra Leone and removal of the mayor of Koidu City Council. In April 2016, KDDA UK with other concerned Konos staged a successful protest/demonstration in London, on the same date as other Kono organisations in the USA, against Octea Mining Company/Koidu Ltd and Tiffany & Co at Oxford Street and Sloane square for evasion of community development taxes in Kono District. As a result, KDDAUK has been approached by several campaign organisations to create closer working relationships and has received press coverage in Sierra Leone bolstering the campaign there for good governance and human rights.
We have carried out fund-raising activities and appeals to obtain the funds needed to run the organisation and our projects. KDDA UK human resources come from a pool of volunteers outside and inside its membership. The Charity’s future resources will include paid staff, volunteers, and delivery partner-organisations in Sierra Leone, an equipped office, land and resources that would be essential to the effective delivery of the organisation’s services to its beneficiaries. The beneficiaries include children, young people, adults and the elderly. We are focused on descendants of the Kono District as our primary target group, including their friends and families within UK and Sierra Leone. The general public also incidentally benefit from our services, including increased community cohesion and education.