By Brima Sannoh
In Kambia District on the 17 October 2019, His Excellency Vice-President, Dr. Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh officiated the inaugural ceremony of the nation-wide popularisation and Decentralisation of the Medium-Term National Development Plan MTNDP (2019-2023) an event that took place at the District Council Hall in Kambia.
The activity, which is spearheaded by the Ministry of Planning and Economic Development, under the leadership of Dr. Francis Kai-Kai was followed by a two-day technical session on decentralising ownership of the plan. The aim of the popularisation drive is to ensure that citizens understand the MTNDP (2019-2023) for the effective implementation and results of the “New Direction” development targets across the country.
The District Council Chairman, Mohamed Yayah Bangura, who welcomed the entourage, said the initiative was timely and that it will capacitate district actors to remain committed in enhancing the development agenda of the Government.
Paramount Chief, Bai Farama Tass Bubu N’gbak IV said as it’s usually known to be the ‘bread basket’ of the country, Kambia should be considered first in the execution of the development plan. He said working together to strengthen the education system in Kambia, which has for too long being in limbo will be the best thing that will happen for people of Kambia district. PC N’gbak IV called on Government to help address some crucial areas which include: the road network, agriculture, health care among many others.
Mr. Sunil Saigal, the United Nations Resident Coordinator underscored the importance of the process as a commitment to the people of Sierra Leone, particularly those in rural settings. He said forming partnerships in engaging local communities was crucial to achieving the Sustainable Development Goal 2030. Mr. Saigal called on the private sector to consider investing more in local communities to create more job opportunities for the youth.
Addressing a resilient audience, the Minister of Planning and Economic Development, Dr. Francis Kai-Kai thanked everyone for joining the Government in the process to working towards achieving President Bio’s vision of uniting Sierra Leone, bringing dignity to the people and improving the human capital development of the country.
He said that the process will help community actors to identify the district’s priorities, which the Government in turn will pay keen attention to. Dr. Kai-Kai noted that this was an opportunity for local actors to demonstrate their commitment by collectively participating in the entire process to identify the district priorities, which he referred to as ‘The Kambia Moment’.
In his keynote address, the Vice-President, Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh noted the importance of the occasion, referring to it as “the road to acquiring an impressive Human Capital Development”. Dr. Juldeh Jalloh said the Government is very committed to addressing some of the major challenges highlighted by the people of Kambia, especially in the education, health and agriculture sectors.
He said the President Bio-led Government will always be committed in putting premium on the education sector, noting that the Government has for the first time allocated 21% of the national budget to education, increasing the number of teachers and building more schools across the country.
He stated that with the support of UNICEF, the Government will be establishing pre-natal care facilities in every district, which will significantly improve on the infant mortality rate. “This Government has made significant contributions to improving our health sector. We have tackled head-on the gross inadequate human resource in health by increasing the present number of health staff by 4,000. We have increased the national budget allocation to health from 8.9 to 11.6%,” he said.
He said the Government is investing huge amount of resources to Agriculture in order for Sierra Leone to become a food self-sufficient country. He noted that by next year alone the country will increase its local storage from three hundred and fifty tons to four hundred and fifty tons.
Other speakers included the Minister of Education, Minister of Political and Public Affairs, Ambassador to Guinea Conakry and the Deputy Minister of Planning and Economic Development among many others.