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Archive for April, 2015

“Sierra Leone Will Bounce Back From Ebola” – President Koroma vows

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

supremo vows

By State House Communications Unit :

In a 45-minute address to members of the Extraordinary Delegates Conference hosted at the Bintumani International Conference Center, Aberdeen, Chairman and Leader of the ruling All People’s Congress (APC) President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma made a strong pitch yet again in the fight to attain and sustain zero Ebola infections for 42 days and kickstart post-Ebola socio-economic recovery programmes.

Addressing a throng of party stalwarts and execs at the conference on Thursday 30 April, 2015, the president highlighted the initial period of the outbreak and its challenges in relation to Sierra Leone’s pre-Ebola development trajectory. He said government responded rapidly amid a ravaging epidemic by building its capacity to handle the disease. He also recognised and praised the efforts of Sierra Leoneans, especially doctors and other health workers in the fight against the receding virus.

Having shown resilience to bounce back as an example of post-war recovery, President Koroma expressed optimism that the country will bounce back from the current situation, adding that Sierra Leoneans will see more development than what obtained even before Ebola struck.

According to the APC leader, the national recovery plan was in sync with the regional recovery strategy that will look at strengthening education and health sectors, social protection, revitalizing the economy among others.

He lauded the party’s contribution in the fight to defeat what had been severally termed by world leaders as a “horrific virus”, and emphasized government’s commitment to transparency and accountability, particularly in the management of Ebola funds; a decision that was sanctioned by him long ago.

“We want to see Sierra Leone bounce back as a stronger nation after Ebola as development and transformative packages will be enormous coming out of the outbreak,” the president pointed out.

In getting to zero, President Koroma urged all to remain focused and vigilant in the final lap to end the fight against Ebola.

NERC CEO Major (Rtd) Alfred Paolo Conteh called for unity of efforts in ending the outbreak and cited the districts that have clocked more than 42 days with no new infection.

Regional party chairmen gave a synopsis of Ebola situation in their regions as well as representatives of party stalwarts in the diaspora and ambassadors in the foreign services expressed commitment to continue to support the fight against the receding virus.

SHCU©2015

Sexual violence being used as a “tactic of terror” to target religious and ethnic minorities : Zainab Bangura

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

Interview with Zainab Hawa Bangura, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict

Zainab Hawa Bangura, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict. UN Photo/Amanda Voisar

 

– Sexual violence is being used as a “tactic of terror” to target religious and ethnic minorities and members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) communities, according to Zainab Hawa Bangura, the United Nations official dealing with the issue.

This is among the findings of the latest report by Ms. Bangura, who is the Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict. In an interview with the UN News Centre, the envoy previewed the findings of the report, which also highlights the crimes committed by non-State actors such as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), Boko Haram and Al-Shaabab, including abducting, raping, and selling into slavery women and girls. These groups are also using sexual violence as a method to forcefully displace large numbers of people in order to exploit resource-rich land or use it to grow narcotics.

Sexual violence is being used as a tactic of terror and this is because of the rise of extremists and terrorist groups.

The international community does not yet have the tools to deal with these non-State actors, Ms. Bangura says, emphasizing the need for the Security Council to work closely with all Member States to figure out how to form the most effective response to deal with the growing threat. For countries where sexual violence is perpetrated, political commitment is key in tackling the scourge. To that end, she notes that progress has been made in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Somalia, Colombia and Côte d’Ivoire. The following interview has been edited for content and clarity.

Excerpts from interview with Special Representative Zainab Hawa Bangura. Credit: United Nations

UN News Centre: Can you tell us how you pulled together elements of this new report that you will be presenting to the Security Council on Wednesday?

Zainab Hawa Bangura: The report comes through with information from peacekeeping, political missions, and United Nations country teams. It’s an elaborate process, very intense, and scrutinized because we also include information from Member States and sometimes from non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The information we collect needs to be verified because it’s very difficult and very delicate to be able to specifically state that sexual violence has taken place in a certain country. So the information we collect is a combination of UN peacekeeping and political missions, Member States and the UN’s NGO colleagues.

UN News Centre: And what are some of the trends you found this year? What’s new in the findings?

Zainab Hawa Bangura: The first and most important and difficult trend that we have experienced is that sexual violence is being used as a tactic of terror and this is because of the rise of extremists and terrorist groups. They move across countries, and are transnational and trans-regional in nature. This is very challenging for us to address. We’ve seen it in Mali. We’ve seen it in Nigeria with Boko Haram. We’ve seen it Somalia with Al-Shabaab and now in Yemen, Syria, and of course in Iraq.

Special Representative Zainab Hawa Bangura meets with women’s groups and victims of sexual violence in Bria, Central African Republic during her first official field visit (December 2012). UN Photo/Cristina Silveiro

The second trend we found is that religious and ethnic minorities are being targeted, as well as members of the LGBT communities, and these crimes are increasing. The third trend, which seems to come in a much clearer way, is that sexual violence in conflict is being used to forcefully displace people. People are forced out of their communities and off their land because the land is rich in natural resources or because groups want to use it to grow narcotics as is the case in Colombia. Some groups forcefully drive people off their land because they just want to occupy it as in the case with ISIL.

UN News Centre: As you have mentioned, this recent upsurge of non-State actors involved in sexual violence – Boko Haram, Al-Shabaab and ISIL – makes it difficult to hold someone accountable for the crimes. What can the United Nations do to help victims?

Zainab Hawa Bangura: I think the biggest challenge we have is a lack of understanding about the strategies that these people use and I think that has made it extremely difficult to access them, to engage them, to understand what is driving them and what they do. The most important thing is to make sure we have more community engagement, make sure that communities who are involved in this crime, as well as community and religious leaders give us a better understanding of the extent of the crime, the people who have been targeted and to respond in terms of services for the victims. It’s the biggest challenge we have but that’s what we’re hoping to engage and it’s one of those things that I’m hoping to do.

UN News Centre: What can Member States do on the ground to alieve the situation?

Zainab Hawa Bangura: We have seen an increase in commitment from Member States, a better understanding, the acceptance that sexual violence is a crime, and a reduction in the culture of denial and silence. So what Member States need to do now is actually increase their engagement and support in terms of resources, in terms of taking the necessary action and ensuring commitment.

Special Representative Zainab Hawa Bangura (right) speaks with other delegates on the margins of the Security Council meeting on “women and peace and security” (June 2013). UN Photo/Devra Berkowitz

But it’s also important for other Member States to be able to put in the resources. It’s not easy to deal with sexual violence because it requires capacity-building, providing technical assistance and support, changing laws, working with the judiciary to make sure that this crime is investigated and that the perpetrators are prosecuted. Survivors must be provided with the necessary services, including psychosocial, medical, and legal support and livelihood support.

So I think the countries where these crimes are being committed have to make sure they have the political will and commitment. The donors who are supporting them need to make sure they provide the resources to support these countries so that they take the necessary action.

UN News Centre:  We hear the stories, ISIL in the Middle East, Boko Haram in Africa, they kidnap, rape and sell into slavery girls and women, and most of the time, if not all of the time, they do it with impunity. They discount international treaties and norms. Does the international community have the tools to deal with these non-State actors?

Zainab Hawa Bangura: The last couple of years the Security Council and United Nations have engaged on this issue, it has been with States and Governments. We know them; we have been working with them for so long; we understand their strategies; we know their command structures. Unfortunately, this is not the case anymore. The non-State actors we are used to working with at the UN are local militia, so it is easier to fight them. For example, in the DRC we call them negative forces, and a special response was developed by the Security Council to deal with these forces.

Special Representative Zainab Hawa Bangura meets with a women’s group in Paoua, Central African Republic (December 2012). UN Photo/Cristina Silveiro

But these new non-State actors are different. They are very sophisticated; they are well-organized; they have developed structures; they are controlling [massive amounts of] land; and they are not just in one country. They communicate with each other and they are using modern technology tools to actually implement a medieval mentality against women. So we don’t have the tools and that’s why we are working very closely with the Security Council to be able to better understand who they are, where they come from and how we can respond. So to answer your question, we don’t have the tools and we need to develop better ones to engage them. It’s a lesson we are all learning together.

UN News Centre: There is some good news. Your report says that some countries have made strides in tackling sexual violence in conflict and have also provided support to survivors. In which area has the most progress been made?

Zainab Hawa Bangura: The biggest gains have been made in the area of increasing political commitment, ownership and national leadership by countries where these crimes are being committed.  The most progress has been made in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia, Colombia, and Côte d’Ivoire. And that is because leaders in those countries have decided and agreed that sexual violence in conflict is a crime that is happening and that we must take the leadership to deal with these crimes. In such cases, progress has been really moving forward.

UN News Centre: You travel to these affected countries and meet with a lot of survivors of sexual violence and you hear their heart-wrenching stories. How do you stay inspired and encouraged? 

Zainab Hawa Bangura:  What astounds me is the resilience of the survivors and the victims I meet with. I think my visiting all of these countries provides hope by me trying to understand the crime. And I think lots of the time the women just want somebody to understand. I visited Colombia about a month ago and I sat around the table and had lunch with some survivors, after telling me all the stories, and listening to them and talking to them, literally each one of them started crying and they said you know, you are the first person who has taken time to listen to us, now we know we can fight. And they are prepared to get up and move on with their lives. So for me that is what is important.

Special Representative Zainab Hawa Bangura’s visit to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (March 2013)

We cannot stop the crime taking place as long as there is conflict so we need to end the conflict but in the meanwhile we also need to give hope to these women. I have seen them getting on, picking up the pieces of their lives, going into business. I’ve even seen in my country, Sierra Leone, survivors hiring the people who have committed crimes against them. So these are for me the stories that really move and give me the inspiration to continue doing the job.

UN News Centre: Sexual violence in conflict doesn’t just affect women. Your report warns about the dangers of underreporting sexual violence against men. Why do you think there is still such stigma attached to that?

Zainab Hawa Bangura: Sexual violence generally is a stigmatized crime and the victim is left to bear the brunt of the stigma. Sometimes they are ostracized, abandoned by their own community. So for men, for women, for boys, and girls, it is a crime that is stigmatized. However, because we have worked so closely with dealing with sexual violence against women we haven’t paid a lot of attention to sexual violence against men.

But it has always been there. In the Bosnian war, I met a victim who was raped and forced to rape his own son. Sexual violence against men is usually done in prison, in detention facilities, and men have been reluctant to come out and talk about it. We have found out that when you talk about men being targeted in prison, it is sexual violence but we have always looked at it as torture.

The one thing I can say for sure, for men or women, victims of sexual violence in combat have become much younger. I have met a three-month-old and a six-month-old victim. But I have also met 70- and 80-year-old women survivors. So we are hoping that because it’s coming out in our report, our response will be better coordinated.

 

SLPP’s serious credibility problem always helps President Koroma win the PR battle in the international sphere

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

The recent demonstrations by power-hungry opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party ( SLPP )  elements against President Ernest Koroma in the UK and USA will yield no dividend for the organizers. This will be more so because of the penchant of the opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party ( SLPP ) to behave like crybabies and  twist facts until their own lies start militating against them . It is one of the reasons that,  tried as they have done, the opposition  has not been able change the mind of the international community towards President Koroma .

The  SLPP  have no credibility. Their stocks-in-trade are lies and dirty propaganda.

SUPREMO UNMOVED

 PRESIDENT KOROMA : DEMONSTRATIONS WILL NOT AFFECT THE INTERNATIONAL GOODWILL HE IS ENJOYING 

The International community in general and our international donor and development partners in particular do not trust the SLPP  to give them an unbiased and accurate picture of what is really going on in Sierra Leone. The one-time U.S. Ambassador to Sierra Leone, Mrs. June Carter-Perry , was caught by Wiki Leaks describing them as an immature opposition.

The SLPP’s credibility problem  reduced their  demonstrators in the UK and the U.S. to nothing but clanging , clattering and annoying cymbals and  the international community will ignore their appeals for international aid to be cut to the country, unpatriotic as their demand. The signs are there to see. So far, there has been no response   from the international community and international monitoring organizations about the allegations levied against President Koroma  by the demonstrators. The international media failed to cover the demonstrations, as well.

How does the SLPP expect the international community to take them seriously when they do not have the integrity and capacity to ever call things by their real names ?  How does the SLPP expect the international community to treat their remonstrations as something to act upon when what they say always contradicts what the international community knows to be happening in Sierra Leone ?

Nothing has lately undermined the SLPP’s integrity and credibility than their insistence to describe President Ernest Koroma as a dictator when the international community , including the U.S, UK and the UN,  know that President Koroma in fact has one of the best democratic records in Africa .

A President who is ruling a country with over 50 critical newspapers , most of them belonging to the opposition cannot be a dictator. A President who allows very vibrant opposition parties, civil society, women’s groups and Youth organizations, who routinely criticize the government, to operate freely in his country , cannot be a dictator. A President who has never jailed journalists for criticizing his government when the SLPP Government before him murdered them, cannot be a dictator. A President who has never had a prisoner of conscience cannot be a dictator. A President who has never shed innocent blood or executed his political opponents cannot be a dictator.

Even as critical as the Freetown cables from the U.S. Embassy in Sierra Leone were, as exposed by Wiki Leaks many years back, the then U.S. Ambassador to Sierra Leone, Madam June Carter-Perry , would afford to inform her principals in Washington DC that : “Post will reinforce that Sierra Leone must remember that they are considered a model for democracy and governance in the region and elsewhere, and will continue spreading this message in all appropriate venues. The Embassy released a press statement to this effect on March 17. End Comment. PERRY”. (FREETOWN CABLES 0freetown99. ) Mrs Perry made this report at  time when the SLPP was busy getting her and former SRSG Michael Shullenburg to blacklist President Koroma and help cut aid to his country. A President who relieved his VP of his duties for abandoning his job , but is making no attempts to interfere with the case and has even allowed the case to be submitted to the Supreme Court–The highest court in the land- – for adjudication, cannot be a dictator. President Koroma has done nothing to suggest that he is a dictator.

The world has become a global village and the international community , through their agents on the ground, effectively monitor Sierra Leone and they know that a President who has created such a democratic and transparent society in his country cannot be a dictator.

The United Nations also famously regard Sierra Leone as a model for postwar reconciliation, political tolerance and national development . They came to these conclusions through reports submitted to them by the erstwhile UN Peacebuilding Commission’s Country Specific Sierra Leone Configuration whose experts lived in Sierra Leone under the post-war arrangements  by the UN .

Given these facts, international donor and development partners and stakeholders will not be moved by SLPP allegations that President Koroma is a dictator or that he is not governing the nation well . Their officials on the ground in Sierra Leone would brief them that it was in fact President Koroma who ordered the audit into the ebola funds in the spirit of transparency and accountability and is an opponent of those found culpable of pilfering the ebola funds. President Koroma himself was never linked to the embezzlement and the auditor-general’s office even commended him for calling for the audit.

Therefore, all these demonstrations being staged by the SLPP will only serve as another unfortunate footnote to indicate  once again  the naivety, immaturity and the Cry-wolf tendencies of the Sierra Leone opposition.

International donor and development partners and stakeholders will continue dealing with President Koroma and the Sierra Leone Government and helping Sierra Leone’s post-ebola recovery. They will not cut aid to Sierra Leone as the SLPP wants.

The demonstrations will not accomplish their purpose to create economy hardship on our people and trigger chaos in Sierra Leone, because those demanding such an unfortunate happenstance lack credibility.

 

 

 

APC Emergency Delegates Conference to discuss Ebola, but ex-VP’s fate to be decided too

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

The fate of former Vice-President Alhaji Samuel Sam Sumana will be decided at today’s ruling All People’s Congress ( APC ) emergency National Delegates Conference.

According to the APC`s National Publicity Secretary 1, Cornelius Deveaux,  the conference will be similarly discussing the fate of other party members who were expelled or penalized along with Mr Sam-Sumana.

EMERGENCY DELEGATES CONFERENCE

 

It must be recalled that two months ago, former Vice-President Sam Sumana and the penalized officials were found guilty of anti-party activities and other ethical issues by an internal investigation. Mr. Sumana appealed against his expulsion.

The emergency delegates conference will also discuss other matters of supreme interest to the nation, like the Ebola scourge and Sierra Leone’s post-Ebola recovery.

 

 

QUEEN SIERRA : New Ferry To Arrive In Sierra Leone

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

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Westminster Group PLC Monday said its high-performance ferry will arrive in Sierra Leone at the end of April, and said it believes confidence and demand for a premium ferry service in West Africa is growing as the outbreak of Ebola dwindles and passenger numbers at the nearby airport increase.

The company provides security and managed services to a number of blue-chip companies, governments, and non-governmental organisations around the world. In March, it said it had decided to buy a vessel for the West African ferry services contract it signed in November which was more expensive and larger than initially planned.

Westminster decided to purchase a larger vessel due to increased passenger numbers at the nearby airport, from which the ferry will run, and due to fewer cases of Ebola, which has increased travel confidence in the region.

On Monday, Westminster said the 38.9 metre, 200 seater, high-performance passenger ferry named Sierra Queen will arrive in the country from Norway at the end of April.

Westminster said the ferry is being transferred to Sierra Leone from Norway on a heavy lift delivery vessel which is one of the few vessels that is currently able to lift and transport a ferry of its size.

“Sierra Queen is a superb and very impressive ‘flag ship’ vessel for our new ferry operations in Sierra Leone, and we are delighted she will be arriving in country this month to provide a much needed professional and fast ferry transit service between Freetown International Airport and the capital, Freetown,” said Peter Fowler, chief executive of Westminster.

“Westminster’s in-country staff have made significant progress developing the terminals and infrastructure required for the launch and commencement of operations,” it said in a statement.

Westminster said over 9,000 passengers passed through Freetown Airport in March which was its highest level in seven months, and the company is confident that there is a growing demand for a premium ferry service in the country.

“The arrival of our vessel later this month and commencement of operations is excellent timing given the significant improvements we are seeing with the Ebola situation and improving airport passenger numbers,” said Fowler.

Westminster said there was only 25 reported cases of Ebola in Sierra Leone during the last week of March, demonstrating “marked improvement” compared to 300 cases a week at the height of the outbreak.

“The continuing improvement in passenger numbers, following the easing of the Ebola situation, has had a positive impact on the financial performance of our airport operations in the first quarter of this year, marking a turnaround from the inevitable adverse impact the crisis had on the operation in the second half of 2014,” added Fowler.

Alliance News Limited.
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ACC calls for integration of anti-corruption initiatives in the Civil Service

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

acclogo

ANTI-CORRUPTION COMMISSION

 

MENA HILLS, MAKENI

 

SIERRA LEONE, WEST AFRICA

 

30th April 2015

 

NEWS ITEM

 

ACC CALLS FOR INTEGRATION OF ANTI-CORRUPTION INITIATIVES INTO THE CIVIL SERVICE

 

Commencing its nationwide advocacy meetings with senior and middle level civil servants on mainstreaming, the Deputy Director of Public Education and Outreach Department of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), Mr. Patrick Sandi has called on Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs) in Port Loko District to mainstream anti-corruption measures in their various operations. Mr. Sandi said this at the Port Loko District Council Hall on Wednesday 29th April 2015 at the first of several similar meetings planned across the country by the Commission in the next two weeks.

 

Explaining the purpose of the meeting, the Deputy Director intimated participants that among numerous approaches and polices in compliance to general best practice, the ACC has made it a priority to advocate for the mainstreaming of anti-corruption initiatives into MDAs. He reiterated the Commissioner’s vision of having anti-corruption measures integrated into all MDAs as a new strategy to fight corruption through the institutional approach.

 

Mr. Sandi summarized the purpose of the countrywide meetings into three main objectives. These include enhancing and improving the capacity of civil servants in dealing with AC measures, heightening awareness on AC issues and enabling participants take practical steps in mainstreaming AC strategies in their operations. The Deputy Director specifically encouraged MDAs to introduce anti-corruption initiatives such as robust codes of conducts for employees, measurable appraisal systems or performance contracts, sound human resource polices, sustained integrity pacts and integrity testing, adherence to strict procurement guidelines and formidable internal audit systems.

 

While formally opening the meeting, Mr. Ibrahim Kargbo, ACC Regional Manager, North, who also doubles as Chairman, reminded participants of  President Koroma’s clarion call for zero tolerance on corruption. He reasoned that in order to reduce cost and ensure adequate collaboration and partnership in the fight against corruption, giving the cross-cutting nature of AC interventions, it was necessary to move away from stand alone anti-corruption programmes where the ACC is perceived as the sole champion in the fight. “It was based on this backdrop” Manager Kargbo further reflected, “that the Commissioner, Mr. Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara commissioned the nation-wide advocacy to top civil servants  for the integration of AC measures as an imperative undertaking for the Commission.”

 

In his explanation of the nature of the programme, Head of Public Education Unit, Mr. Michael Sesay indicated that the mainstreaming project is funded by the European Union as a complement to the no-bribe campaign. Mr. Sesay explained that the need for devolving the fight against corruption and the tremendous benefits this will bring to MDAs and the nation as a whole.

 

Another pertinent aspect of the meeting was a session on the basic tools in monitoring GoSL projects which was delivered by Mr. Moses Bangura, Monitoring Officer, ACC. Mr. Bangura pin-pointed that without proper monitoring, effective and efficient accomplishment of project objectives is doomed. He urged participants to develop functional monitoring and evaluation systems that can be used to prevent and  eliminate corruption in their institutions. Mr. Bangura ended the session by insisting that Monitoring and Evaluation Officers should not be seen as Police Officers but as a necessary arm that enhances reliable measurement of strength and weaknesses in the organization, without which effective management is impossible as:”What cannot be measured cannot be managed”, he emphasized.

 

Other sessions were done on the role of civil servants in the fight against corruption, Offences in the 2008 AC Act and how to report corruption to the ACC. The meeting ended with a plenary session where participants expressed satisfaction on the contents of the presentations, remarking that the meeting was far more than an advocacy meeting but trainings on how to integrate anti-corruption initiatives into the civil service.

 

Measures to curb uncontrolled teenage sex

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

STATEMENT AT THE OFFICIAL LAUNCH OF THE MOHS-SAVE THE CHILDREN “NO SEX FOR GRADE” CAMPAIGN HELD AT THE ATLANTIC HALL, NATIONAL STADIUM IN FREETOWN

Chairperson, representatives from MOHS, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Social Welfare Gender and Children’s Adfai8rs, other line ministries, representatives from the UN families, Teachers, parents, pupils, members of the fourth estate, distinguished ladies and gentlemen,

 

FODAY SAWI

Deputy Health and Sanitation Minister 1, Foday Sawi Lahai

I would like to welcome you once again to this important occasion and to profusely thank all of you for making time to come.

I will also like to relay the good wishes of the minister of health and sanitation for the success of this launching programme and to extend his hearty greetings. He would have very much loved to be hear but for the exigencies of duties. But he would like us to know that he is with us in spirit.

We are gathered here today in our continued quest to look for ways to tackle the problem of sexual exploit among teenage girls. This problem has become a serious phenomenon especially among school going children and therefore as nation, and as a government in particular urgent attention is required to generate concrete solutions if we are to redeem our girl child population from becoming social and economic burdens on their families, communities and the nation at large. Uncontrolled teenage sex has wide ranging consequences on the young girl. These include teenage pregnancy, health complications, skewed self-esteem, poor educational achievement, damaged confidence, poor economic advancement, social entanglement and many more.

Unfortunately as we become more and more “advanced” or “civilized” more and more people gained more and more freedom to live the way they like and this is not helping our fight against teenage sex. This may explain why hundreds of our school girls get pregnant and dropout of school.

Chairman, tackling the problem of teenage sex does not have any easy solutions and this is exacerbated by social and economic shocks that our country has had to be subjected to. Such disasters included the ten year war, and the recently violent Ebola epidemic.

This is why the government of his Excellency President Ernest Bai Koroma has brought together all relevant stakeholders to join their skills, knowledge, experience, and resources to tackle this obnoxious problem of teenage sex. As a result, this consortium comprising of government and all its partners are exploring every possible avenue to checkmate the problem and put it under serious control. This gathering is a vindication of that fact.

Both on the Part of the young girl victim and the predatory boys and men, teenage sex is born out of the desire to respond to physiological needs, acquire social acceptance, respond to peer pressure, desire to acquire something “money or grade or something else”, adventurism {desire to experience} and many more. But the consequences for the poor teenage girl is disastrous, and devastating and except for few who may be lucky to escape, recover, and catch up the majority of young girls are subjected to very far reaching consequences.

Specifically, we are gathered here today to draw attention and to set in motion massive awareness raising machinery on one of the major causes of teenage sex in schools and institutions of learning, SEX FOR GRADE. This is the sex transaction between the young teenage girl in school and the teacher who is supposed to provide academic and morale guidance for the young inexperienced girl.

When a male teacher, who has his morale standards disrupted and has high sex drive decides to take advantage of his very powerful position and influence over a young girl who is academically weak or lazy at her school work, and yet wants to pass all her subjects in the exams this presents a very dangerous situation for the girl, her parents, the school, the community and the nation at large.

One of the most immediate and visible consequences for the teenage girl is pregnancy which is commo9nly designated teenage pregnancy. While in most cases the teacher goes scot free, the girl is left to bear the consequences. As an immediate after effect the young girl’s education is disrupted. There are a few who recover, and catch up socially and academically and go on to achieve to their fullest potentials.

However, many young girls victims of teenage sex never recover from the disruption of their studies either because some very strict parents refuse to continue to pay fees for their GIRL MOTHER or the girl could not sum up the courage to continue after she gives birth. According to the UNICEF Survey in 2008, the ultimate pregnancy fof young girls is ranked as the third most common reason for the to drop out of school. Some even become a child producing factory with all its consequenci8es on herself, the family, the community and the country at large. This study also showed that about 34 percent of pregnancy occurs among the teenage girls.

Additionally early sex could have enormous health implications on the young girl. A teenage girl who gets involved in sex before she is fully physiologically and emotionally ready could lead to various health implications. The outcome of pregnancy for some could be a very bitter experience due to immature development of the pelvis. There are those who develop obstetric complications such as obstructed labor which requires caesarian sections. If immediate action is not taken further, complications such as obstetric fistula may occur.

Uncontrolled teenage sex can lead to damage of the genital and reproductive o9rgans and tissues and other serious complications. Of course if intercourse takes place without condoms it can lead to pregnancy and sexually transmitt3ed infections such as HIV AIDS, and other sexually transmitted diseases. But that is not all the health implications. Teenage sex could lead to emotional distress, lack of confidence and low self- esteem.

Mr. Chairman, a recent systematic review found out that adolescent pregnancy has been associated with premature delivery, still birth, foetal distress low birth weight and miscarriage. A WHO Report (2002) indicated that still births and deaths in the first week of life are 50 percent higher among babies born to younger than 20 years than among babies 20 to 29 years.

Having sex for grades has current and future impact on the education and job opportunities for those who get engaged into it. Some girls may get lucky or smart and never get pregnant. They may continue and become very good at it until they finish primary school, secondary school and perfect it in the university. For those their ability to cope with work after finishing college could be very challenging. These are the women who enter the workforce with big qualifications but cannot perform even the smallest of tasks.

But what is at stake for the teacher who knowingly interferes with a young girl that he is suppose to protect and nurture to reach her fullest God-giving potentials. According to the New Law, titled SEXUAL OFFENCES ACT 2012, “— No person below the age of 18 years can give consent to sexual intercourse: And consent will not be accepted in the court of  law as defence in cases of alleged offences against under age persons..” Therefore teachers and lectures in the habit of exchanging passing grades for sex from young girls desist henceforth as the new ACT prescribes a penalty of Le10, 000, 000 or one year jail term on conviction.

So why is the government launching a new campaign against sex for grades. This campaign will seek to empower girls with information to enable them to make informed choices and decisions about sex and reproductive health. Government and its partners would like girls to know about the consequences of reckless sex upon their own lives, including their health, education., social status, economic achievement and their overall future.

They need to know that there is a Law now protecting them from imposed sex from their teachers in classroom. They need to be made to see the dignity, honour and expanded future in working hard to study and pass their exams genuinely than to sell their bodies and destroy their young body parts for grades. They need to know that the security of their future as wives and employees lies in getting serious with their early life rather than misusing their God-giving life insurance.

The parents need to be made more aware that sex for grades is a reality in the schools so that they could provide protection for their young daughters. Therefore they should do all in their power to discourage their girls from getting involved in this sex for grade business.

The People should know that if we do nothing, it is us who shall bear the ultimate consequences. We should know that our tax revenue will be used to pay for their bad choices and decision by maintaining and up keeping them in their later years.

Therefore as we formally launched this campaign today we would like to encourage all stakeholders to find a role for themselves in this campaign and get fully engaged.

Delivered by

Deputy Minister of Health and Sanitation 1 Foday Sawi Lahai

 

 

 

SLRSA To Celebrate Global Road Safety Week

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

 

By Abdul R. Bedor Kamara

DR SARAH BENDU

 

SLRSA Executive Director, Dr. Sarah Bendu

The Sierra Leone Road Safety Authority (SLRSA) would join other countries in the world to celebrate the Global Road Safety Week slated for 4th-10th May, 2015 on the theme: Save Kids’ Lives.

The theme is to highlight children’s plight on the roads, generate action to ensure and improve their safety and promote the inclusion of safe and sustainable transport in the post-development agenda.

SLRSA Public Relations Officer, Abdul Karim Dumbuya said that the theme, Save Kids’ Lives is a call for road safety is the world’s new goals and that in September 2015, Governments would meet at the United Nations to launch a new set of global goals for future development.

“The post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals will set the agenda worldwide on international development to replace the current Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as road safety was not included in the MDGs. Therefore, action to reduce road traffic injuries and fatalities has not been a priority for policy-makers globally. We now face a situation where road traffic injuries are the number one killer of young people age 15-29 worldwide. Road traffic injuries have a health burden on the scale of malaria and tuberculosis and the death rate is increasing,” Abdul Karim Dumbuya enlightened.

He continued that the crisis is most severe in developing countries which account for 90% of the 1.3 million road traffic fatalities yearly articulating that the United Nations has recognized that road traffic injuries represent a major public health and development crisis.

The Public Relations Officer went on to intimate that in the first draft of the new ‘Sustainable Development Goals’, Governments have included a target to halve road traffic fatalities noting, “the Save Kids’ Lives campaign with partners around the world is now calling on world leaders to ensure that this target is in the new goals to be launched in September 2015.”

He also advised that the danger is that if road safety is not included in the Sustainable Development Goals, there would not be adequate support to ensure that it is prioritized worldwide, particularly in developing countries asserting that the consequences would be fatal as millions of lives would be at stake with young people being vulnerable reiterating that Save Kids’ Lives is urging world leaders to make road safety a priority.

SLRSA Executive Director, Dr. Sarah Finda Bendu lamented the frequent road accidents that kill so many children and young people reiterating, “we want road safety for everyone. The Child Declaration launched by Save Kids’ Lives to be delivered during the UN Global Road Safety Week, is a call for action to reverse the trend.”

She affirmed that these measures are already well known but often not implemented underlining that they are a priority to decision-makers in their development agenda.

Dr. Sarah Finda Bendu also called for a global target in a post-2015 Health Goal to drastically minimize road deaths stating that road safety is an agenda for health, education and eradication of poverty.

She further revealed that low and middle-income countries account for 90% of the 1.24 million annual road traffic fatalities, the number one cause of deaths for young people age 15-29 informing that the GBD 2010 Study and the WHO Global Status Report on Road Safety 2013 confirms the gap between developed and developing countries on road injuries informing that road deaths increased dramatically in South East Asia (66%), Central America (33%) and West Africa (112%) during the GBD period.

Dr. Bendu reiterated that road traffic injuries put immense burden on healthcare systems, diverting resources from other priorities observing that in many low and middle income countries, road traffic injuries account for a large number of trauma admissions, as much as 60% in some countries.

According to the SLRSA Executive Director, road traffic injuries weaken economic growth and that the costs are disproportionately borne by the poor disclosing that the World Bank has estimated the cost of road traffic injuries at US$100 billion which represents 80% of OECD aid in 2009.

She further stated that research indicates that the majority of urban and rural poor households with members suffering road traffic casualties were not poor before the loss of a wage earner maintaining that road accidents have devastating effects on education with hundreds of thousands of school age children in low and middle income countries losing their right to an education every year due to road traffic injuries.

 

Freshwater: A Lacking Resource

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

 

 fresh water

Rural dwellers fetching water from a local lake in Northern Ghana. Photo: Izumi Kikkawa

 

The United Nations has set aside 22nd March of every year as World Water Day. This is a day that is celebrated around the world to draw attention to water related issues. This year, the theme for the event was “Water and Sustainable Development”, a topic carefully chosen to highlight on how water links to all dimensions that are needed to create the future we want. The day drew a lot of attention to the importance of water to health, environment, industries, energy, food and equality.

 

Undoubtedly, addressing water related issues will require more than a day as water is critical to the health of every nation and its socioeconomic development. Unavailability of clean water and poor sanitation are frequently associated with high incidence of water-related diseases including cholera. For a continent like Africa, the day provided among other things an opportunity to re-think the challenging task of halting pollution of water resources across the continent. The warming climate and human activities including population growth, urbanisation, industrial activities, poor farming practices and more especially poor waste management practices continue to impact negatively on water resources.

 

 

Some Statistics

Though the African continent is said to be endowed with about 63 spectacular international trans-boundary river basins that cover 64 percent of the continent’s land, Sub-Saharan Africa is reported to have the lowest daily household per capita water use in the world, a consumption rate that is far below the UN minimum domestic consumption level of 50 litres per day.

Source: World Water Council

 

It is even more alarming when a UN water report (2015) revealed that the percentage of people who enjoyed piped-borne water on their premises in Sub-Saharan Africa has actually decreased from 42% to 34%, a clear indication that access to “safe” drinking water sources is also declining. In fact, the challenge in the region is not only with water accessibility but even when water is available there are risks of contamination due to pollution and poor sanitation. Infrastructure to channel water from fresh and clean water sources for use at arid areas often remains costly for many communities.

As freshwater sources constantly get polluted, so are consumers left with no choice than to depend on the untreated water for domestic use and other purposes, a situation that poses serious health concerns. Sadly enough is to see women and young girls who are the major actors in accessing and carrying water, having to suffer more as the situation prevents them from engaging in more income-generating activities or attending school regularly; as most times of their day is  spent on walking miles for their daily water needs. This therefore calls for a revolution against water pollution in the continent.

Girls in search of water.  Photo: Fredrick Mugira

 

 

Some Experts Solutions

Expressing his thoughts on how to address the water pollution issue across the African continent, Dr Elias Ayuk, Director of the United Nations University Institute for Natural Resources in Africa (UNU-INRA) noted that considerable investments are required to increase access to clean water and to improve sanitation and waste management in many developing world including Africa.

 

“There is the need to give more priorities to water resources management in most Sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries. It is estimated that only about 3% of Africa’s renewable water resources have been tapped. Opportunities therefore exist for tapping and harvesting more water for irrigation, domestic and industrial use, if the appropriate investments and regulatory frameworks are put in place”, stated Dr Ayuk.

 

FRESHWATER 2

Girls in search of water.  Photo: Fredrick Mugira

In the view of Dr Effiom Oku, Land and Water Resources Research Fellow at UNU-INRA, increased knowledge in innovative science and technology research is the sure way to go. He observed that “science and technology are the obvious means of changing the trajectories for harnessing Africa’s water resources so as to create wealth, produce enough food and reduce poverty”. He reiterated the need for the continent to explore cost effective technologies to treat wastewater for reuse and invest in more advanced technologies such as reverse osmosis for desalination, in order to address the water challenges in the continent.

 

There is no doubt that water resources management must be prioritised to drive sustainable development. Africa indeed needs a behavioural change on the part of its citizens to halt water pollution. This will require citizens to resist from dumping wastes and excreta into drainages and water resources, so as to prevent water pollution. Mining firms and other organisations, whose activities affect water bodies and the environment in general, should also take pragmatic measures to mitigate the impact of their operations on the ecosystem and people. Proper sanitation practices, implementation of appropriate regulatory frameworks to minimise the impact of industries’ operations on the environment and strong leadership commitment in protecting water resources will contribute to finding lasting solutions to clean water and water accessibility challenges across the continent.

 

This article is written by Praise Nutakor, Communications and PR Associate of UNU-INRA

Agenda For prosperity continues in Sierra Leone : New luxury ferry is bought

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

President Ernest Bai Koroma’s Agenda For Prosperity continues in Sierra Leone . A brand new ferry has been bought by the government, according to the Minister of Transport and Aviation, Hon. Leonard Balogun Koroma .

The new ferry, named QUEEN SIERRA, will considerably ease travel across the Sierra Leone River to the Lungi International Airport.

QUEEN SIERRA

QUEEN SIERRA 2