June 7, 2021
By Yusufu S. Bangura
The Ministry of Planning and Economic Development last Friday 4th June, 2021 organised one-day validation workshop with Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), Members of Parliament, the media and Ministries Department and Agencies on the 2021 Voluntary National Review (VNR) report on the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The validation workshop took place at the Civil Service Training College, Tower Hill in Freetown.
Speaking at the Ministry of Planning conference room, Joseph Samah, Assistant Director of Planning, Policy and Research, said the ministry supported CSOs to generate data and do a report at district level on the implementation of the SDGs which commenced from 18th to 21st May, 2021.
The Assistant Director said the SDGs are global goals for action by all countries and that they in the Planning Ministry recognised that ending poverty and other deprivation must go hand-in-hand with strategies that will improve health and education, reduce inequality and spur economic growth.
He said the aim of the entire process is to leave no one behind and achieve development for Sierra Leoneans in line with the medium-term National Development Plan.
On his part, Edward Massaquoi from the Integrated CSOs platform on SDGs who also doubles as the project manager for European Expert Chamber Network, said they started working with the ministry since the inception of the SDGs in 2016, and this year was not an exception as they consulted them and involved them in the data collection processes in the 16 districts.
He said the enumerators were scattered across the country to get the views of people on the implementation of the SDGs, focusing on 11 key areas.
He confirmed that there is strong awareness about the SDGs in Sierra Leone in 2021 as compared to 2019, although many respondents could not tell the specific goals of the scheme.
Massaquoi pegged the increase in public awareness on SDGs to the monitoring and evolution of SDG-16 done by the Justice Sector Coordination Office.
He added that the intervention of other development partners has not only increased citizens’ knowledge on rolling out of SDGs in 2021 as compared to 2019, but also raised awareness on the VNR 2021.
He further narrated that most people understood the concept of ‘Leaving No One Behind’ as the participation and involvement of everyone in making decision on the development of their communities, despite status, sex, or political affiliation.
He said during their consultations on goals 1& 2, (ending poverty and hunger), respondents told them that government have improved greatly on agricultural activities, support rural farmers through loan facilities with no interest and seeds, support other extension services and improve rural communities which have discouraged rural-urban migration.
He noted that even though they have improved in some areas they still have challenges like inadequate spear parts for some farm implements, late supply of seedlings to farmers, and migration of energetic youths to big towns.
Massaquoi maintained that in the areas of good healthcare and wellbeing, many people responded that there are functional ambulance systems across the country and there has been some improvement on the government national budget.
He said respondents say there is an increased in quality and number of health workers, but challenges like poor road network to access patient, bad attitude of some health workers especially nurses towards delivering pregnant women remained unsolved.
He said in the area of quality education, the people told them that the free quality education system is available for every child in the country and there are teaching and learning materials including school buses to transport pupils to and from their various schools.
He said huge number of untrained and unqualified teachers in the classrooms especially in the rural communities, lack of enough school structures were challenges that the government should try to overcome if the scheme is to succeed.
“I am pleading on the government to construct more schools with equip laboratory and recruit more trained and qualified teachers in the rural areas. I also want the Ministry of Planning to continue supporting us,” he said.