Samuel Harbor discusses his role as the deputy resident representative of the United Nations Development Programme in Sierra Leone. He was particularly involved with efforts to reform the Sierra Leone National Police through increased training, capacity building and coordinating the provision of essential equipment. Harbor identifies the major challenges that these reform efforts faced, including limited funding, high rates of poverty and low rates of pay for officers, donors acting in a leading rather than a supportive role, and reconciling disparate or rival groups within the police force. He maintains that each change in policy must be sustainable beyond donor involvement and must be nationally owned and led, and he stresses the importance of reformers clearly delineating their goals. He expresses optimism about the potential for reform, emphasizing that Sierra Leone had the unique opportunity to essentially start from scratch following the lengthy civil war, and that the country had substantial amounts of untapped valuable natural resources. He also commends the success that the police force had achieved in community policing and in increasing the proportion of women in the service.
At the time of this interview, Samuel Harbor was the deputy resident representative of the United Nations Development Programme in Freetown, Sierra Leone. He earned his master’s degree in business administration in the United States, then returned to his native Nigeria to work in banking, the stock exchange and as a consultant for Ernst & Young. In 1986, he joined the U.N. in Nigeria and later worked with the organization in a number of countries, including Gambia, East Timor and Ethiopia, before Sierra Leone.