By Foday Moriba Conteh
During a well-attended ceremony held at the Country Lodge Hotel in Freetown, the UN Resident Coordinator in Sierra Leone, Babatunde Ahonsi, on behalf of the co-chair of the UNSDCF Joint Steering Committee has on Monday 11th April, 2022 presented the 2021 United Nations Annual Results Report for Sierra Leone to the Honorable Vice President of the Republic of Sierra Leone His Excellency, Dr. Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh.
The UN 2021 Results Report is a stock-taking of the Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework (2020-2023) that speaks to the United Nations Country Team (UNCT) of Sierra Leone’s development advances in 2021, notwithstanding the shocks of the COVID-19 pandemic and its socio-economic impact and other challenges.
In his address, the UN Resident Coordinator in Sierra Leone, Babatunde Ahonsi said that as UN Resident Coordinator, with 18 resident and non-resident UN agencies, he is aware that there are funds and programmes contributing to national development priorities and the strategies of the Government of Sierra Leone as established in the Medium-Term National Development Plan (MTNDP) 2019-2023.
He encouraged pressmen present to familiarize themselves with the contents of the 2021 UN Country Annual Results Report for Sierra Leone of which he further urged them to help educate the public about the development progress recorded in 2021 due to the fruitful partnership among the UN, the Government and People of Sierra Leone as the roadmap for collective development programmes in the country geared towards the achievement of the 2030 Agenda.
The Resident Coordinator maintained that the UNSDCF outlines four strategic priority areas and that more attention were paid on how UN Agencies, funds and programmes have delivered on those outcome areas: Sustainable Agriculture, Food and Nutrition, Security, and Climate Resilience, stating how the country has witnessed improved agricultural practices and reduction of vulnerability with regards to food insecurity.
“Transformational Governance, where access to justice improved, especially for vulnerable populations including children, women, and migrants through development and review of legal and policy frameworks, strengthening and establishment of local service centres, and providing direct support to survivors of violence are included,” he revealed.
He further intimated that access to Basic Services deals with where the report stated that more children in Sierra Leone have enrolled in school with improved and meaningful learning outcomes, and where WASH services have improved the wellbeing of the population and reduced disease burden, and where efforts have been strengthened towards the achievement of Universal Health Coverage.
He pointed out that there has been protection and empowerment of the most vulnerable, where key actions were taken towards changing community behaviour and understanding the rights of women, children, and people living with disabilities and the promotion and protection of those rights.
“The UN supported the Government and other stakeholders to accomplish some of the achievements in 2021. To date, the country has received nearly 3 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines via COVAX alone, with over 1.7 million people having received at least one dose. To tackle the wider pandemic impacts and boost recovery, our team has supported a new scheme to boost food production in schools, now piloted in 17 schools. Also, over 14,000 children can now access water and sanitation facilities in schools, and an additional 100,000 people have access to basic water supply,” he disclosed.
The UN Resident Coordinator stated that despite the pandemic’s education setbacks, with the UN team’s support there was a 36 per cent increase in children enrolled in basic and secondary education from 2020 to 2021, with specialized educational materials provided for 23,300 pre-primary school children and 2 million children receiving their regular vaccines.
“For a greener recovery and to address the pandemic’s socio-economic impacts, our team on the ground also contributed to improved access to renewable energy, building over 80 mini-grids in rural areas benefitting nearly 300,000 people. Moreover, 123,000 crisis-affected persons benefitted from food and cash transfers; 2,000 women who survived violence received quality attention and care, and 16,000 girls received access to protection services,” he maintained.
Receiving the report, the Honourable Vice President, His Excellency, Dr. Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh, on behalf of the Government of Sierra Leone ,expressed appreciation to the United Nations Sierra Leone for the launch of the 2021 United Nations Annual Results Report for Sierra Leone as their stock-taking of the United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework (2020-2023).
He described the report as an independent evaluation of Government’s performance in delivering social services to the people, adding that Government’s programmatic interventions are driven by the Human Capital Development vision of President Julius Maada Bio.
Commenting to the issue of gender inequality in political institutions in the report, he stated that 11.6 % of Members of Parliament are female. He further informed the UN and other development partners that experiences acquired in Sierra Leone and elsewhere in the sub-region show that the proportional representation system is the most viable path to enhancing women representation and address politico-electoral tensions and violence particularly in an ethno-regional political context like Sierra Leone.
He noted that from all indications, it is clearly evident that the 2021 United Nations Annual Results Report for Sierra Leone has given an overwhelmingly high rating to President Bio’s administration and more importantly set the stage for the debate on proportional representation in the country’s electoral politics.
Giving the vote of thanks, the Youth Champion Member, UNFPA & the National Secretariat for the Reduction of Teenage Pregnancy – Youth Advisory Panel, Ms. Salamatu Laggah, said that she is a proof that they are making great strides together and that the United Nations and its development partners are doing everything possible to ensure that disability inclusion is at the core of their development priorities.
She commended the One Family People Organization for the support they have been giving to her over the years, adding that she is now an important decision-maker in her family.
She informed the gathering that as a UN Programme participant she could attest that the UN promise of Leaving No One Behind is backed up by real actions which serve, protect and empower persons with disabilities.