The Sustainable Development Goals in Sierra Leone
The Sustainable Development Goals are a global call to action to end poverty, protect the earth’s environment and climate, and ensure that people everywhere can enjoy peace and prosperity. These are the goals the UN is working on in Sierra Leone:
27 June 2022
UN Women Deputy Executive Director & UNFPA Regional Executive in Freetown for 10th African Sexual & Health Rights Conference.
UN Women and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) have announced the visit of their senior officials from headquarters and regional offices, respectively, to Sierra Leone this week. Media advisories issued by both agencies today confirmed that the executives would be headlining several engagements, including the 10th Africa Conference on Sexual and Health Rights (ACSHR) at the Bintumani International Conference Center from June 27- July 1, with about 700 participants from across the continent attending. Ms Åsa Regnér, UN Assistant Secretary-General (ASG) and UN Women Deputy Executive Director will be accompanied on the visit by Ms Oulimata Sarr, UN Women Regional Director for West and Central Africa. Both are already in Liberia, where they will be meeting with top government officials, including the Liberian President, His Excellency George Opong Weah and members of the UN Country Team there. Ms Fabrizia Falcione UNFPA Deputy Director for West and Central Africa Region will also arrive in Freetown tonight as part of a week-long visit to the country. She will have an opportunity to familiarise herself with UNFPA's programmes in Sierra Leone and will meet with Government officials, development partners, and programme beneficiaries. "I am looking forward to being in Sierra Leone and engaging with Africa's civil society organisations and other key stakeholders on critical thematic issues on gender-based violence and reproductive health and rights, but also to meeting with governmental and non-governmental partners and with beneficiaries of UNFPA's programmes in Sierra Leone," noted Ms. Fabrizia Falcione. For ASG Regnér and Regional Director Oulimata Sarr, their visit to Sierra Leone is aimed at strengthening and re-affirming UN Women's support toward the advancement of gender equality and empowerment of women and girls with a view to furthering advocacy and partnerships in line with the development agenda of Sierra Leone and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The UN Women Media Advisory noted that the ASG is expected to meet with His Excellency, President Julius Maada Bio, Vice President Dr Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh, the Speaker of Parliament, Dr Abassa Bundu, the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Gender and Finance, and members of the Female Parliamentary Caucus, and the Statistician-General. She will also meet with members of the Diplomatic Corps and Heads of the International Financial Institutions (IFIs) development partners, civil society organisations, women, and youth groups in Sierra Leone. The three senior UN officials will also meet with the UN Resident Coordinator (RC) Mr Babatunde Ahonsi and members of the UN Country Team in Sierra Leone. Close to 24 international UN staff, mainly from UNFPA and UN Women, are also expected in the country for the Conference, where the RC will deliver remarks at the opening ceremony. UNFPA's Executive Director, Ms Natalia Kanem, is expected to address the Conference at the opening via video link. ASG Regner will make a statement at the closing ceremony, and Ms Falcione will participate in a panel on "Partnerships to End Violence: Centering Social Movements as the solutions for perspectives and commitments from Governments, UN agencies and donors." The 10th Africa Conference on Sexual Health and Rights (ACSHR) is a biennial conference convened by the African Federation for Sexual Health and Rights. It is hosted by Purposeful, an Africa-rooted global hub for girls' organising and activism. First Lady Fatima Bio is the Chief Patron.
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09 June 2022
UN RC calls for reflection on conditions of detention and complaint mechanisms
United Nations Resident Coordinator Babatunde Ahonsi has encouraged senior-level staff of the Sierra Leone Correctional Service (SLCS) to reflect on the conditions of detention and the complaint mechanisms available for detainees in corrections centres across the country. Mr Ahonsi made the call at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Freetown on Wednesday yesterday at the opening of a three-day training for senior-level staff of the SLCS on Conditions of Detention and Human Rights. The RC said that during his various engagements with the highest authorities of the country, including the office of the Vice-President, the need for the UN to support the capacity building of the staff of the SLCS often emerged. Therefore, he described the training as timely and hoped that it would contribute to staff development and the reform of the correctional service that the government is undertaking. According to Mr Ahonsi, "the programme of the training is adequate as is the calibre of the facilitators involved, from the SLCS, the UN, the Human Rights Commission of SL, the Legal Aid Board and civil society organizations". He noted that participants would also discuss issues including the rights of persons deprived of liberty, roles and responsibilities of correction officers and security and management of correctional centres. The RC underscored the UN's belief that all people, regardless of their backgrounds, have rights and responsibilities to fulfil their potential in life and lead decent, dignified, and rewarding lives in a healthy environment. "None should be left behind in this journey to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development," said Mr Ahonsi, adding that the training will contribute to the achievement of various sustainable development goals (SDGs), specifically SDG 16 - promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all, and build effective, accountable, and inclusive institutions at all levels. In his welcome remarks, Acting SLSC Director-General, Mr Ahmed Turay, said he was deeply honoured that 30 senior officers of the SLCS were partaking in the training. He said this would strengthen the knowledge and skills of officers to perform their duties with the human rights of inmates in mind. The Acting DG said the SLCS Act of 2014 lays a premium on the recognition of the rights of inmates irrespective of the crimes they have committed. Noting that human rights are directly reflected in the SLSC's mission statement, he assured partners that the Correctional Service is willing, ready, and able to utilize the training opportunity as it will enhance his officers' ability to effectively and efficiently manage correctional facilities. Delivering the keynote address on behalf of the Vice President of Sierra Leone, Dr Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh, Minister of Internal Affairs Mr David Maurice Panda-Noah said that it was fitting that such training is organized for Corrections officers to remind them once more that they are under obligation to uphold human rights principles, especially in the dispensation of their duties. Minister Panda-Noah underscored the importance of Human Rights for Correction Officers when one takes into consideration the value it will add to the SLCS and the country. “It will provide them with the psychological tools, the requisite knowledge and skills, and the right attitude to perform their duties in accordance with national and international laws on the treatment of persons deprived of their liberty,” he emphasised. United Nations Country Team in Sierra Leone Senior Human Rights Advisor, Christian Mukosa, said the training aims to enhance the knowledge and skills of senior staff of the SLCS on the rights of the detainees with a focus on prisoners with specific needs, including women, juveniles, persons with disabilities and foreigners. He added that participants would discuss and produce an action plan to implement the various human rights principles and recommendations from the training during these three days. Over the next three days, senior-level Corrections Officers will be exposed to human rights principles of good prison management, prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment or punishment, women in detention, and prevention of gender-based violence in correctional settings, and pre-trial prisoners and legal assistance to persons in detention, among others.
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30 May 2022
UN Resident Coordinator advocates human security approach to addressing development challenges in Kono.
United Nations Resident Coordinator, Mr Babatunde Ahonsi, has said that with robust partnerships, the UN System, the Government, and the people of Kono could work together to address some of the development challenges facing the diamond-rich district. He made these remarks during the official handover of agricultural equipment and inputs to farmers from three out of the fourteen chiefdoms in the district. Soa, Gbense and Kamara chiefdoms were the beneficiaries of a pilot Human Security Trust Fund-supported project being implemented by UNDP and FAO since 2021 to enhance progress towards the SDGs in these communities. Accompanied by UNDP Resident Representative, Mr Pa Lamin Beyai, the RC said that though historically, Kono has been richly endowed with mineral and agricultural resources, its development indicators were below the national averages. “The development of the district is in stark contrast to its endowments,” he said. Furthermore, the RC emphasised that “the district’s relative remoteness and the persistence of several development challenges further compounded by conflicts have plagued growth and productivity.” Mr Ahonsi said he believes that the handover event will complement the work that the UN System has started with the rehabilitation of the Inland Valley Swamps. The tools and equipment will enable increased food production for the community and beyond. He expects these interventions to be owned by the communities’ stakeholders and beneficiaries and a model for other communities to replicate and address longstanding development challenges. UNDP Programme Specialist, Ms Josephine Scott-Manga, said it was a multi-faceted/dimensional methodology to address complex development challenges in her overview of the human security approach. “It provides a comprehensive response by crafting interventions that speak to social, economic, environmental, community security, cohesion and peace,” she remarked. Ms Scott-Manga noted that the approach also emphasised that women, youth, and people with disability are placed at the heart of decision making. A representative of the Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC) said the programme through the District Multi-Party Forum had contributed immensely to mutual understanding between and among political leaders in the communities. Chair of the Council of Paramount Chiefs Emmanuel T. Foryoh assured UNDP and FAO of the programme’s success in all chiefdoms, promising that they will not be let down. The programme recipients said the intervention would change the lives of the rural communities, that it was timely, that livelihoods have improved, and that peace has been established in their communities. In his keynote address, Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Mr Tamba Lamina, thanked UNDP and FAO for their engagements with the three chiefdoms of Gbense, Sao and Kamara, stressing that working together breeds peace and better development outcomes. He said he was highly impressed by the testimonies of the recipients that the programme is going in the right direction. “If the programme succeeds, it will be used as a model in other parts of the country, and the other chiefdoms in Kono will benefit, “the Minister said. The recipients from the three chiefdoms received three sets of rice milling machines, six tricycles, three sets of cassava grater machines, six storage solar freezers, six electronic scales, six motorbikes, and three hundred bags of fertilizers as part of the first set of items given to them. UN Sierra Leone worked closely with the Ministries of Local Government and Agriculture to attract the Human Security Trust funding to strengthen human security and resilience in remote communities in the three chiefdoms for a two-year project.
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30 May 2022
UN supports Salone’s hosting of premier Africa Conference on Sexual & Health Rights.
United Nations Resident Coordinator (RC) Babatunde Ahonsi last Wednesday disclosed that ahead of the 10th Africa Conference on Sexual and Health Rights to be hosted in Sierra Leone for the first time, the UN System, including the Spotlight Initiative, has so far contributed the sum of US$190,000 toward the Conference. He applauded UNFPA's role in coordinating UN support to the Conference as resource mobilization efforts continue, including other technical and logical needs that the UN Country Team will avail to the event, to be held from June 27-July 1 in Freetown. Speaking at a press launch organized by the Conference's Host, Purposeful, a feminist hub for girls' activism at the Radisson Blu in Freetown, Mr Ahonsi said the country needs a massive conference like this after dealing with the threats of the COVID-19 pandemic and the current Ukraine-Russia conflict that continue to disrupt delivery on the Sustainable Development Goals and the 2030 Agenda. On behalf of the UN, the RC said he was confident that the monumental event would accelerate national and continental efforts to eliminate sexual and gender-based violence. This, according to him, was imperative as it is estimated that globally one in three women has experienced SGBV in her lifetime. Referencing the 2019 Demographic and Health Survey, Mr Ahonsi said, "Sierra Leone has extremely high rates, with 62 percent of women aged 15-49 reporting having experienced physical or sexual violence." The success of the Conference will have a ripple effect in galvanizing and equipping stakeholders in Sierra Leone and around the continent to fight for lasting change and a more equitable society. Working collectively, Mr Ahonsi emphasized, "We must all join hands to end SGBV and other harmful practices." He asked that collectively, a clarion call should be made on all stakeholders to mobilize for actions on three levels - continental action, local action, and people action. This will help secure stronger partnerships, more resources, and smarter solutions to addressing SGBV. Mr Ahonsi also recognized and thanked the First Lady, Madam Fatima Bio, the Honorary Chief Patron, and Dr Uwem Esiet, the convenor, for what he described as this all-important continental knowledge and experience-sharing platform in Freetown. He applauded Purposeful and the Government of Sierra Leone on the selection of country to host the Conference under the theme "Accelerating the elimination of sexual and gender-based violence in Africa." The convenor said that since the Conference started 20 years ago, what they were witnessing that day was another level of this journey. He said he was humbled to be in Sierra Leone and looks forward to a historic meeting. First Lady Fatima Bio said she was proud and thrilled to announce the Purposeful-organized conference as Chief Patron, hoping that this will be a big opportunity for Sierra Leone. She also disclosed that she has reached out to a number of First Ladies across the continent to attend, and once they confirm, she will report back to the country. Furthermore, she disclosed that Nigerian songstress, Yemi Alade, has confirmed that she will be in Freetown for the programme. Purposeful’s CEO, Mr Chernor Bah, said that at the Conference, attendees would have the chance to engage with globally renowned speakers and leaders and participate in networking opportunities, coalition-building workshops, wellness and healing sessions, and an entire programme of arts and culture events. A Youth Pre- Conference will be held on the first two days of the event. The last three days will include 45 carefully curated sessions with the President, Brig (Rtd) Julius Maada Bio, expected to grace the occasion.
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17 May 2022
UNOPS promotes productive use of Energy, supporting people with disabilities in rural Sierra Leone
Dembelia Musaia Disabled Association (DMAD) is an association formed by people with disabilities from the Dembelia and Musaia chiefdoms in the Koinadugu district, Sierra Leone. In 2020 UNOPS Sierra Leone awarded DMAD with a grant of $15,948 to support renewable energy productive use activities, specifically targeting persons with disabilities, women-led businesses, youth groups, and farmer groups. The grant was part of the Rural Renewable Energy Project, funded by UKAid. With the award and their own co-contribution of $4,954 in-kind and cash, DMAD rented a new premise where the association set up a second fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) shop, restaurant, and small business hub where basic computing and printing services are provided. All of the group’s businesses are supported by solar energy from the Musaia Minigrid site in the Koinadugu district. At UNOPS, successful stores like DMAD not only motivate us to continue our work but inspire us in fulfilling our mission to help people build better lives through our projects in Sierra Leone. Supporting DMAD through productive use of energy to gain financial independence for themselves and their families while contributing to local economic development and employment fuels the work we do at UNOPS Sierra Leone. Speaking to Mr Jawara, one can't help but feel the pride that he exudes when speaking about his and the association's current standing in the community. This grant has not only brought them financial benefits but has also fast-tracked their integration into the community; a benefit that is priceless given the challenges faced by persons with disabilities in Sierra Leone. The independence and self-reliance that it has given the group members and the association is a source of immense pride for Mr Jawara, being in a position to help and advocate for persons with disabilities in his community is one that he takes with great pride. “Having the ability to feed your family without begging is a great feeling,” he said.
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