March 15, 2015 By Victoria Saffa
With support from Christian Aid-Sierra Leone, Campaign for Good Governance (CGG) has held a one-day consultative meeting with civil society organisations on post-Ebola strategic plan themed: “Promoting local ownership and harnessing national reform initiatives for post-Ebola recovery”.
Making a statement yesterday at the conference hall of the Council of Churches in Sierra Leone (CCSL) at Kingharman Road, Freetown, Executive Director of CGG, Valnora Edwin said the purpose of the meeting was conceptualised based on lessons learnt from the 11-year civil war, where their good friends from abroad took the lead of post-war reconstruction and reintegration.
She urged local ownership and inclusion of civil society groups’ participation at all levels of post-Ebola reconstruction where CSOs are visible, and that such could only be achieved when they understand the issues and can make valuable inputs and alternatives to present after the Ebola epidemic.
“Coordination and a cohesive approach from civil society strengthens the space we are always demanding for which you would agree with me that in recent past this is narrowing due to misrepresentation of the space by so-called CSOs,” said Ms. Edwin.
The CGG executive director maintained that the Ebola epidemic has significantly exposed governance challenges which is evident that lessons from the war were never learnt as the Ebola outbreak is another war that has claimed the lives of many innocent people, changed the lives of many who survived or are affected, left a weakened economy, poor health and education, while many women and girls have been disproportionately affected.
Christian Aid Country Manager, Jeanne Kamara, stated that CSOs have been quite instrumental in the fight to eradicate the virus, engaging mostly in social mobilisation activities, including working with traditional leaders, youth and women’s groups, and addressing issues of early reporting, monitoring and effectiveness of service providers in the management of the epidemic, and providing humanitarian assistance to quarantined homes.
She said the epidemic has significantly had a negative impact on all sectors of the society, economically, socially and culturally, resulting to the death of some 3,058; 8,237 having been infected.
She said CSOs should partner with the government to take the people out of the health quagmire, adding that Christian Aid has a vision to end the virus and they have also learned that abject poverty has highly increased in the country.
He urged CSOs to work hard as leadership must come from within and not only from international support.
“We are going to partner with our local organisations to see that they end this fight and free Sierra Leone from poverty during the post-Ebola, because there is high rate of poverty in the country,” she noted.
On his part, World Bank Country Director, Francis Ato Brown, said secret burials and washing of dead bodies are still affecting Sierra Leone, adding that CSOs should continue doing community engagement which is very pivotal to end the virus.
He said the country is highly plagued by youth unemployment, noting that CSOs must stand tough and tall in the post-Ebola recovery as they have a role to protect and promote Ebola survivors and families.