By Amin Kef Sesay
On the occasion of the 61st anniversary of the independence of Sierra Leone attained on April 27, 1961, as Resident Coordinator and on behalf of the United Nations Country Team, I wish to send our sincerest congratulations to the Government and People of the Republic of Sierra Leone.
Throughout the past six decades, the United Nations and Sierra Leone have maintained a strong partnership and a strategic relationship that is bonded by the desire to maintain international peace and security, give humanitarian assistance to those in need, promote shared prosperity, protect human rights and uphold international law, fight pandemics and public health threats, and work against climate change.
Sierra Leone partners with the United Nations for realizing its Medium-Term National Development Plan (2019-2023) and the UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework (2020-2023), seeking to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all humankind as prescribed in the global 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
As an example of the strong collaboration between the UN and Sierra Leone, the UN Country Team and other stakeholders are helping boost food production in school settings, through a programme now piloted in 17 schools, even against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic. Plus, more than 14 000 children can now access water and sanitation facilities in schools, and an additional 100 000 Sierra Leoneans have access to basic water and supply.
Furthermore, support from UN Country Team in 2021 contributed to a significant increase in children enrolled in basic and secondary education from 2020 to 2021, with specialized educational materials provided to 23 300 pre-primary school children and routine vaccines to 2 million children. The UN also contributed to improved access to renewable energy, building more than 80 mini-grids in rural areas benefiting nearly 300,000 people.
Even with these advances, as the country celebrates Independence Day 2022, efforts should be made to address long-standing weaknesses in the fundamentals of the national economy, to provide greater access to economic opportunity and empowerment for all Sierra Leoneans, regardless of region, gender, generation, or disability status.
Lastly, as Sierra Leone is now effectively into the 2023 elections cycle, it is my hope, and that of the entire UN Country Team, that the country will maintain the path of inclusive politics that builds bridges. Only with this approach will the country continue along a sustainable development trajectory of peace, inclusive economic growth, and social transformation.
Let me renew the UN’s commitment to working together with you and keeping focused on our shared priorities of peace, good governance, gender equality, environmental sustainability, and ensuring that no one is left behind in accessing basic services and economic opportunities.
Once again, I wish you all a happy Independence Day, and God bless Sierra Leone.