4m Euros Italian support to Salone


June 24, 2015 

The Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and seven Italian non-governmental organisations are implementing a one-year emergency programme in Sierra Leone that costs almost four million Euros. Beyond this, through multilateral channels (UNICEF, WFP and IFRC), Italy has disbursed three million Euros more in favour of Sierra Leone.

Participants at the launch of the fund are being used by seven Italian NGOs, alongside local partners, to carry out projects in different parts of the country in areas such as health, food security and child protection. These projects started in December 2014.

COOPI, one of the Italian NGOs, on Tuesday 16 June launched a six-month child protection project during the celebration of the Day of the African Child at the Western Rural District Council hall in Waterloo. The project counts on an estimated two hundred thousand Euros (200,000 Euros) – the equivalent of over one billion Leones – to cater for the food and non-food items plus livelihood training and capacity building for children within the Western Rural and Urban, whose families have been directly or indirectly affected by the Ebola epidemic.

The two hundred thousand Euros is part of the four million Euros provided by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development Cooperation. The project is targeting some 1,000 Ebola orphans and children directly or indirectly harmed by the disease. It will further cater for family tracing and reunification, psycho-social support, delivery of food and non-food packages to restore basic life conditions of families hit by the Ebola epidemic, promote livelihood initiatives for adolescents, capacity building to the care-givers and to the community leaders.

The launching ceremony was done in collaboration with Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Social Welfare that is directly involved in child welfare issues.

Child Protection Manager at COOPI, Marco Loiodice, said his organisation has been in operation for 50 years and has been working in Sierra Leone since 1971, focusing on projects in the fields of agricultural development, renewable energy and human rights. He disclosed that the NGO has been working on caring for children harmed by the civil war and now is focusing on Child Protection project as a way of contributing in the fight against the Ebola crisis, adding that the programme will last until December 2015.

“The project has been drafted in partnership with the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs as they assigned us the duty and privilege to support the Western Rural and Urban areas, particularly Koya Rural, Kissy Town and Joe Town in Waterloo,” he stated, noting that the NGO will replicate the project in Calaba Town and Portee (in the east of the city) on 27th June.

Loiodice further pointed out that their support is going towards addressing the welfare needs of Ebola orphans and children directly or indirectly affected by the outbreak as they will be engaging on family tracing and reunification, and psycho-social support. He said the program will promote livelihood initiatives for adolescents and capacity building to the care-givers and community leaders as a way of building the future of these children and their families.

The project also focuses on training and capacity building in order to strengthen families and communities to be self-supportive and in order for young people to be able to choose their future life.

Italian Ambassador to Sierra Leone H.E. Alfonso Di Riso, who is based in Abidjan, noted that through the Cooperation Bureau in Freetown, he is confident that the very positive relationship between Sierra Leone and Italy will continue to flourish.

Chairman for the occasion, Patanne Conteh, said child marriage and teenage pregnancy pose serious economic threats to the country. She maintained that despite the efforts of the government, other international and local organisations in salvaging or minimising the phenomenon, the rate of teenage pregnancy continues to increase in some parts of the provinces.

The Principal of FAWE, Mrs. Mary Mack-Williams, said early marriages are most often carried out by parents without the consent of the child, citing poverty, culture, fear of pre-marital sex, war and conflict as some of the factors responsible for this.

A woman activist, Mrs. Yeama Baba-Conteh, Director of Woman for Woman in Waterloo, explained some of the effects of early marriage that could lead to either death or permanent deformity of either the mother or child. She appealed to the authorities to enact laws that would punish offenders or perpetrators of such felonious acts, noting that about 40 percent of maternal morbidity, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, are associated with the poor nutritional and health status of mostly young girls whose structures are not well capacitated for child birth.

According to information gathered, Waterloo accounts for the highest rate of child abuse and violations in the whole of the Western Area.