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:
09 September 2021
At Canadian College: UN Resident Coordinator prescribes a future that benefits everyone.
United Nations Resident Coordinator in Sierra Leone, Mr Babatunde Ahonsi, on Tuesday encouraged students at the Canadian College of Modern Technology (CCMT) at Mile 91 to acquire lifelong learning skills that would be crucial for their careers, noting that the future we all want is one in which development benefits everyone and that the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are our shared vision about the world that we want by 2030. For this to happen, it must be owned by all, according to the RC who was at the college for a Town Hall engagement and to get young people to act on the SDGs. He repeatedly enjoined the students to become more familiar with the SDG targets set for achievement by 2030 especially those for SDG 4 - inclusive education for all. Speaking at a Town Hall with over 300 excited students and staff, the RC congratulated Mr Muckson Sesay, the proprietor, for his vision and passion in transforming his dream of establishing an impactful learning institution in his hometown of Mile 91 into reality. Encouraged by what he saw after he toured the facilities and the prospects for further development, the RC told the proprietor that the best was yet to come for CCMT. He noted that the higher education sector is becoming more diversified across the world with an increasingly important role for the private sector. Mr Ahonsi, addressing students, said, "higher education is a key driver for national economic transformation and social progress," and that with the type and diversity of courses and programmes that students are being taught, "CCMT could be a game-changer" for the higher education sector in Sierra Leone. "CCMT gives me hope that we can make progress not only in expanding access to higher education but also do so with quality," Mr Ahonsi said to wide applause from the students. That progress, he stressed, can be made with solid partnerships to end extreme poverty, and achieve the SDGs. He observed that for development to be sustainable, it has to be holistic (integrating social, economic and environmental considerations), and should leave no one behind. In Sierra Leone, the RC explained that the United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework aligns with the country's Medium-Term National Development Plan priorities. This, in turn, is anchored on the SDGs with a focus on four outcomes areas: - Sustainable agriculture, food and nutrition security, and climate resilience; Transformational governance; Access to basic services; and Protection and empowerment of the most vulnerable. Looking at the data, the RC said, "about six out of ten households in Sierra Leone are food insecure. It is an unacceptable situation with the agricultural endowment that the country has." The SDGs provide a solid blueprint for changing this situation. Turning to the staff, Mr Ahonsi called on them to "give the students the capacity and the orientation to learn how to learn." i.e., they should be prepared to explore knowledge beyond their university education to help them succeed in their future careers. He concluded his talk by providing resources, materials, and links on how the students could become involved with advancing the SDGs in Sierra Leone and asked that they make sure that their education enables them to become agents of change. Mr Ahonsi also granted interviews on the colleges' training radio and television- CCMT TV Channel 44 and CCMT Radio FM 95.7. Earlier, the RC witnessed a coding competition at the Students Lounge that Group A members comprising Elvira Davies, Joshua Samuel Guage, Aminata Bah, and Ibrahim Rahman Kamara won. He presented certificates and SDGs branded bags, pens, notebooks, and water bottles to the winners from three groups of four who were asked to "write a programme that will find the maximum number in a set of sorted numbers." Thanking the RC for the lecture, the Student Union (SU) President of CCMT, Abdul Tamba Lebbie, posited that the students were very pleased that the RC has seen how the institution is working tirelessly to reach a broader scope of sustainability in education, agriculture, and technological innovation in Sierra Leone. Referencing the RC'S presentation, the SU President said, "With an orientation to learn how to learn is what provokes our decision to have public lectures and constructive dialogues with great personalities on campus for the proper enlightenment of our minds." The Proprietor, Mr Muckson Sesay, commended Mr Ahonsi for visiting the school. He also gave an overview of how, as a computer programmer in the West, he wanted to replicate what he saw and learned in Canada in his country, through the establishment of CCMT.
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25 August 2021
UN Resident Coordinator discusses Culture & Tourism with Minister Pratt.
UN Resident Coordinator Babatunde Ahonsi, at a meeting on Tuesday with the Minister of Tourism and Cultural Affairs Ms Memunatu Pratt, underscored the importance of tourism in achieving Sierra Leone’s development priorities. The two met at her Off- Kingharman Road office in Freetown. The RC said the UN is here to support national priorities, and these are reflected in the UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework. According to him, you cannot begin to talk about the four areas of the Cooperation Framework -- sustainable agriculture, food and nutrition security and climate resilience; transformational governance; access to basic services and protection of the most vulnerable -- without linkages to culture and tourism. Mr Ahonsi expressed concern over the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the tourism industry. Notwithstanding, he commended Minister Pratt for the emphasis she has placed on domestic tourism and on women and young people, observing that “Sierra Leone has rich cultural endowments that need to be harnessed and promoted.” The Minister agreed and explained that she has spent most of her time working on tourism, “but in terms of moving the divide, we have to also zero in on arts and culture”. She mentioned the need, through civic education on culture, to popularize the UNESCO Conventions for the protection of cultural and natural heritage. Madam Minister informed the RC that she will be taking these Conventions to cabinet for ratification. She also briefed the RC on priorities related to tourism and welcomed UN collaboration for training, including for hospitality workers, security sector personnel in relation to tourism safety and security, and for creative artists and entrepreneurs. Madam Pratt mentioned the need to support beach cleaning exercises for all beaches in the country through the ‘Food for Work’ Programme, and the possibility of constructing recording studios in all four regions of Sierra Leone that would be available to musical artists. In the near term, she was enthusiastic about getting the RC and the UNCT actively involved in joint celebrations marking World Tourism Day on September 27. The theme this year is ‘Tourism and Inclusive growth: Achieving the SDGs and Agenda 2030 in the Post-Pandemic Era.’
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19 August 2021
Sierra Leonean youth chart the way forward on food systems innovation on International Youth Day 2021.
With young people comprising two-thirds of the country’s population, Sierra Leone joined the rest of the world in a weeklong celebration of International Youth Day (IYD) 2021. A series of youth-led dialogues focused on the theme “Transforming Food Systems: Youth Innovation for Human and Planetary Health,” were held from Monday 9th to Thursday 12th August. The Resident Coordinator (RC) Mr Babatunde Ahonsi and the Minister of Youth Affairs (MOYA) Mr Mohamed Orman Bangura issued a video message on Monday that previewed the week’s events, designed to highlight the ideas of young people for changing the food system in Sierra Leone, such that no one is hungry, and no one is left behind. Minister Bangura, in officially launching the weeklong activities, said, “to the heroes of today, the heroes of tomorrow, and to the energies that will define the present and the future, I want to take this opportunity on behalf of the Government of Sierra Leone to wish every young Sierra Leonean a happy and warm International Youth Day week.” On Tuesday, the RC, the Minister, and two youth leaders, Isha Sheriffe Wurie Jalloh and Mohamed Foday were featured on a one and half-hour television programme focused on the theme. They explored how Sierra Leonean youth could participate meaningfully in sustainable solutions to address food insecurity, including by supporting local farming businesses and by working to address gender stereotypes in agricultural roles. The Minister called on young people in Sierra Leone to think and dream big. The RC said that global food systems, across regions and countries, are not working enough for everyone. He emphasized that hunger has increased and that the current food system needs to be transformed for it to be more inclusive, sustainable, affordable, and resilient to the impact of climate change. “A situation where we have more food being produced globally and yet an increasing number of people are hungry is unacceptable.” UN agencies hosted a series of events during the week. UNDP and IOM hosted radio and television segments featuring Deputy Commissioner of National Youth Commission Emmerson Kamara, UNDP Youth Technical Specialist Richard Musinguzi, and IOM Communications Specialist Alfred Fornah. Samuel Mattia, a young Hydroponic Innovator from Pujehun District, spoke about his innovative technology that automates soilless cultivation, improves crop quality, and minimizes pest and disease infestation using hydroponic techniques. This technology grows seasonal fruits and vegetables such as cucumber, onion, lettuce, grapes, and strawberries. Mariama Bundu, a youth leader and migrant returnee based in Kambia District, shared her testimony about the challenges she encountered when she used the services of a fraudulent agent to migrate to Europe. Serving as a ‘Migrant as Messenger’ volunteer, she spoke about her awareness-raising work to dissuade young people from embarking on risky and desperate journeys. Cornilia Hagga Kallon, a recent graduate who benefited from an IOM training program for work as a certified tractor operator, encouraged other young people, especially women, to tap into opportunities available in the agricultural sector to contribute to food security in the country. On Wednesday, UNFPA and UNAIDS hosted panel discussions on radio and television featuring programs that support the growth and empowerment of young people. Youth representatives advocated for an inclusive approach in addressing issues affecting them, including sexual and reproductive health, gender-based violence, unemployment, and discrimination directed at persons living with disabilities. They called for mentorship and career development training to help youth take up leadership roles and contribute meaningfully to national development. Panelists included Dorcas Koroma, a Youth and Gender Analyst at UNFPA, Mohamed K Sandi, a Consultant from UNAIDS, Salamatu Laggah and Hannah Kargbo as Youth Champions, and Mammy Saio Marah, a Girls’ empowerment advocate. On Thursday, a group of young innovators engaged with Minister Bangura, the DSTI Director and Chief Operating Officer Ms. Michala Mackay, and UNICEF Country Representative Suleiman Braimoh to share different initiatives they are leading in their communities. The dialogue, streamed on radio and television, explored how youth-focused initiatives can help to improve youth education, employment, and civic engagement through human-centred design. Sixteen-year-old Sarah Cassandra Kabba from Freetown shared her initial steps to get a solution to the problem of inadequate water supply. “As young people, we have been meeting with stakeholders of the community to sensitize them about the challenge of water and motivate them to allocate a piece of land near the community where a water tank can be installed and regularly supplied with clean water.” Sara is an active member of the UNICEF-supported Upshift Programme, a youth-led social innovation programme that helps young people identify challenges in their communities and create entrepreneurial solutions. WFP and FAO hosted radio and television shows that brought together community youth contractors from Moyamba and Pujehun Districts and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. They discussed youth engagement in cascading knowledge on improved agronomic practices and ensuring ownership and sustainability of irrigation systems, thereby assuring year-round and diversified agricultural production. FAO also showcased a successful poultry farmer from Kono District whose dream is to become the richest farmer in the country by 2030. At the global level, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres issued a video message for IYD stating that “This year’s International Youth Day highlights solutions developed by young innovators to address challenges to our food systems. They are tackling inequities in food security, biodiversity loss, threats to our environment and much more.” Mr Guterres urged everyone “to guarantee young people a seat at the table as we build a world based on inclusive, fair, and sustainable development for all.”
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06 August 2021
UN to Support Gender Mainstreaming in Government Ministries.
On Friday the 30th of July, the UN in Sierra Leone signed an MOU with the Ministry of Gender and Children’s Affairs to support mainstreaming gender in Government Ministries. The multi-stakeholder partnership for Gender Mainstreaming in Government Ministries (GiM) aims to advance the rights of women and girls and to accelerate gender equality in Sierra Leone. It was jointly developed by UNDP, UNFPA, and UNICEF, and coordinated by UN Women. The collaboration targets more in-depth actions and greater inclusiveness to tackle root causes of gender inequality, shifting focus from independent initiatives to bringing about more coordinated political and normative changes. Investments in gender equality shall be better coordinated to ensure greater efficiency. The UN Resident Coordinator, Mr Babatunde Ahonsi, remarked: “On behalf of the UN system, I congratulate both the Government, especially the Ministry of Gender and Children Affairs, and the four engaged UN agencies for being part of this partnership and for the commitment to improved data monitoring. It is a significant step forward in terms of understanding the progress we are making and the impact of improved policies in the lives of women and girls. (…)It's also a testimony to the power of the UN coming together to get more out of the work we do. We can do better when do it together. So, I'm very happy about this partnership and I'm delighted to sign this document.”
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22 June 2021
Sierra Leone’s Paralympian: Disability is NOT a Barrier
Mr George Wyndham, one of Sierra Leone’s most decorated para-athlete, with 17 awards to his credit met with UN Resident Coordinator (RC) Mr Babatunde Ahonsi, informing him that his disability has never been a barrier to achieving his lifelong goals. Mr Wyndham who will be going to the Tokyo Olympics was at the UN Resident Coordinator’s Office at Fourah Bay Close in Freetown today for a preparatory meeting of an upcoming online events about the SDGs. The RC was very pleased to meet with Mr Wyndham and commended the Table Tennis, Track and Field, and Badminton para-athlete for his tireless advocacy for an inclusive society that leaves no one behind. The RC stressed the commitment of the UN to working for the empowerment and protection of the rights of those living with disability including in ensuring that they are full beneficiaries and active agents of the development process. For the RC, “empowerment of persons with disability is critical” for the advancement of sustainable development in Sierra Leone. Mr Wyndham’s main aim is to help those living with disability, especially those living in the streets of Freetown and other cities in the country. He affirmed the RC’s point on the importance of disability inclusion. Mr Wyndham also met UNDP Deputy Resident Representative Ms Rokya Ye Dieng. He thanked her for the support UNDP provided for him to participate in the 2016 Summer Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. “Through UNDP, I was able to get the right wheel-chair for the games, an air ticket and per-diem, and for that, I am grateful,” he told Ms Dieng. He also expressed his interest in contributing to UNDP’s advocacy efforts on disability issues. Mr Wyndham also catalogued the numerous contributions he has made to the persons with disability community through his previous work with UNDP. This includes a three-month stint on COVID-19 sensitization with a local non-governmental organization, One-Family. Mr Wydnham, who was six years old when he became disabled due to polio currently resides in a makeshift office at the National Stadium in Freetown. Without a job, he depends on handouts from friends and well-wishers to take care of himself and his almost two-year-old daughter. Yet, Mr Wyndham has represented Sierra Leone in the Commonwealth Games, the Paralympics, the All-Africa Games, and the World Championship, winning silver and bronze medals.
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