By Hassan Gbassay Koroma
Global leadership of Christian Aid, including its Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and the International Programmes Director, on Tuesday, February 21, met with Vice President Dr. Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh. They also paid visit to the Minister of Planning and Economic Development.
The Chairman-Bishop Dr. Sentamu, Chief Executive Officer Patrick Watt and the International Programmes Director, Ojobo Ade Atutuku, are in the country to know what Christian Aid Office in Sierra Leone is doing in tackling poverty.
Speaking during the visit, Chairman,Bishop Dr. Sentamu, said the organization was formed my churches in Great Britain to support refugees of the world war 2 in Europe and since then they have been working and reaching out to poor people because they believe that, there is life before death.
He said God didn’t create poor people but people are poor because of greed in humanity and that one of their focuses is to fight against poverty.
He said they believed that their work will make a difference in the lives of the people in the world, stating that what Christian Aid’s team in Sierra Leone was doing was to fulfil the organization’s aspiration.
He said they were impressed and promised to ensure that their offices in other countries do same.
Also speaking, Patrick Watt, CEO of Christian Aid, recalled that they have met with religious leaders and discussed with them especially in the area of peace building in the country and their role in that process.
He disclosed that he once worked in Sierra Leone in 2005 and that he observed great developmental differences in his second visit, but stated that poverty is still a challenge in the country.
Minister of Planning and Economic Development,Dr.Francis Kaikai, said as a government, they were always making sure that they create smooth and secure space for NGOs to operate, confirming that Christian Aid is one of the over 400 NGOs that are operating in the country.
He said they are aware that, they as a government can’t solve all the problems which was why they recognize the work of NGOs.
Vice President Dr. Juldeh Jalloh welcomed the leadership of Christian Aid, stating that Christian Aid programmes are in tandem with the New Direction manifesto.
He said as a government they look forward to building and strengthening the relationship with Christian Aid.
He said the government places high premium on human capital development which is premised on health, education and food production and women empowerment.
He said the government has done a lot in the education sector, disclosing that the government has allocated 22% of the country’s budget to education and that they have recruited over 10,787 teachers and enrolled over one million kids across the country.
He further stated that in the area of agriculture, much has not been achieved.
He said the country’s budget on agriculture is at 3%, contrary to the recommended percentage of the Maputo Protocol.
He stressed they needed to build national food capacity and to roll out programs that will support small scale farmers, adding that they also intended to create a hub to get more support for women in agriculture.
He also stated that in the area of health, government has increased health budget from 6% to 11.7%, adding that government has recruited over 6,000 nurses.
He disclosed plans to roll out the health insurance scheme, for according to him, the universal health coverage does not cover everywhere.