Sierra Leone News: AID-SL Engages Stakeholders

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Cross-section of participants during one of the trainings

Receiving funding from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the Advocacy Initiative for Development – Sierra Leone (AID-SL) has engaged key stakeholders in Kambia and Kono Districts on Adaptive Capacities of Climate Change on Water Services.

This was disclosed on Friday 4th July 2019 by the Executive Director of AID-SL, Sylvanus Murray at his 17 Circular Road office in Freetown.

He enlightened that since 2012, AID-SL has been working extensively with the UNDP in enriching and transforming lives and communities in Sierra Leone, that in April 2019, AID-SL successfully solicited funding from UNDP to implement an engagement titled:  ‘Awareness Raising on Adaptive Capacities of Water Services to Climate Change” in both Kono and Kambia Districts between April and July 2019 adding that AID/SL, in close collaboration with Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in both districts, identified and mobilized the project communities, the beneficiaries.

Sylvanus Murray further revealed that the full implementation of the project activities started with two inception meetings organized and held in Kono and Kambia Districts recalling that in Kono, the meeting was held at the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office at Bona Street in Koidu City while that for Kambia took place at the District Resource Centre, Kambia Town targeting sixty (60) key stakeholders, (30) thirty from each District with participants drawn from the Local Councils, Traditional Leadership (Chiefs), Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), WASH-Net members, NGOs in WASH, youths, women, EPA, ONS, ordinary citizens, CSOs and activists.

The well-attended meetings were chaired by the Chairman, Council of Paramount Chiefs, Kono District, Emmanuel T. Foryor and the Deputy Chief Administrator, Kambia District,  respectively.

The objective of the event was to increase stakeholders’ knowledge about the project details including activities and its designed objectives, ensure effective project monitoring and quality compliance while copies of the project set objectives, activities and expected comes were distributed to all the participants with stakeholders firmly pledging, on behalf of their institutions, to support the awareness-raising drive on the issues and effects of climate change on water services.

Furthermore, during the implementation of project activities, two focus group discussions were held with project beneficiaries to thoroughly discuss the causes, effects, perpetrators and prone communities and seriously affected communities to climate change and its consequence

on water services within the two Districts during which it was discussed, agreed and noted that the effects of climate change are visible and experienced in the communities and the districts and therefore requires serious and immediate attention by the district stakeholders.

Few climate change effects and causes discussed were continuous deforestation activities even within reserved forest areas, indiscriminate mining activities, water and air pollution while seriously affected communities identified in Kono were Kombayendeh in Lei Chiefdom, Tama forest in Sandor Chiefdom and Kwidadu and Chenedu in Gbense Chiefdom and Konta and Kenema communities in Khoninaka Chiefdom, Kambia District. The focus group discussions increased stakeholders’ knowledge on climate change and its hazards on the environment as well as the country’s water services.

Also, four dialogue fora between duty bearers and right holders were organized in both districts. The engagements created a level playing field for the two groups to discuss the effects of climate change on water service/points.  Furthermore, the fora were participatory, inclusive, interactive and result-oriented.

The Kambia District Council Chairman, Mohamed Yayah Bangura expressed gratitude to UNDP for providing funds to AID/SL for the activities in his district noting that this was his first opportunity to engage in climate change project face-to-face with people in the district underscoring that climate change has resulted to a lot of suffering for his people as almost yearly, the roofs of houses are blown off, poor harvests as a result of the change in the weather pattern, water shortages etc. and promised to work with other stakeholders to put and enforce bye-laws on tree-felling, charcoal-burning and timber-logging although he acknowledged the enormity of the task ahead.

At the end of each meeting, participants adopted resolutions and actions with responsible persons in the awareness-raising drive to mitigate the effects of climate change on water services at all levels.

The resolutions adopted at the District level are that stakeholders should develop community bye-laws on the cutting down of trees, identify and develop chiefdom reserve forests, that Councils should develop climate change strategy and plans, that Councils should also identify and organize coordination meetings for partners working on climate change, undertake robust monitoring exercise of deforestation activities, popularize national documents on climate change at community levels and that communities and stakeholders must embark on regular tree planting exercises.

At the national level, stakeholders unanimously agreed that Government, through Parliament, should develop policies, laws, national strategy and plan on climate change mitigation, simplify and make available approved documents relating to climate change, ensure enforcement of the policies and laws  and that Government should ensure that politicians are not involved in timber-logging.

Increasing stakeholders’ awareness on climate change issues on water points in Kambia and Kono, AID-SL has lined up the following ongoing activities: regular radio discussion and phoning programmes with panelists identified and drawned from Local Councils, MDAs and CSOs to discuss, key amongst many, is the impact of climate change on water resources.

Also, two drama groups were contracted to perform skits on the effects of climate change on our water services in both districts, especially in disaster-prone communities while AID-SL will continue its routine follow-up exercises in the communities to ensure compliance as well as note change and case stories.

 

 

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