This article, based on the original report,1 offers a ‘bottom-up’ review of the post-war reconstruction of the Sierra Leone state. The impact of the civil war on human security and governance in the rural areas was devastating, yet rural communities remained intact. The pre-war (traditional) leadership structures continued informally to provide a degree of governance response. Despite the post-war restoration of chieftaincy and its general popularity, elected district councils have been reintroduced. Also, most communities are now using the alternative dispute mechanisms created by donors, who have played a significant role in Security Sector Reform (SSR), democratisation and decentralisation. Although the police are much improved as a consequence, it would be a mistake to say that they are wholly transformed. The various reforms are incomplete and the institutional boundaries of the newly reconstructed multilayered governance system are unclear. Not enough attention has been paid to how governance at the ‘periphery’ is to be conducted.