The Parliament of Sierra Leone has organized a three-day workshop on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); co-supported by the Inter-Parliamentary Union and UNICEF spanning 23rd to 25th September, 2019 in Bo City.

The SDGs deal with 17-Goals including no poverty, zero hunger, good health and well-being, quality education, gender equality, clean water and sanitation, decent work and economic growth, climate action, and peace, justice and strong institutions.

Over 50 Members of Parliament drawn from various Committees including the Inter-Parliamentary Union and SDGs and Staff of Parliament are in attendance.

The workshop is principally contingent on self-assessment and identifying priorities by Parliament relating to the realization of the global commitments regarding the SDGs in Sierra Leone.

Mr. Masheti Masinjila is the IPU’s Consultant Trainer for the Members and Staff of Parliament on the SDGs. And the highly deliberative sessions in light of the country’s National Development Plans for the implementation and realization of the SDGs by 2030 were co-facilitated by persons including Hon. Paran Tarawally, Hon. Yusuf Mackery, Dr. Moikowa, Karmoh Conteh and Sheku Lamin Turay.

Hon. Bernadette Wuyata Songa, Chairperson of the Committee on Inter-Parliamentary Union called the workshop to order.

Welcoming the participants, the Clerk of Parliament, Hon. Paran Umar Tarawally spoke about the culvert that had been temporarily fixed along the Bo-Kenema Highway to ease vehicular traffic. Speaking on the importance of the workshop, he said that “it is aimed at capacitating MPs and Staff on the integration and attainment of the SDGs”, noting that oversight is crucial to the realization of these goals.

Speaking on the SDGs, the Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Hon. Segepoh Solomon Thomas spoke on the gains that had been made so far by Government relating to the launch of the National Development Plans, the introduction of the Free Quality Education, and strengthening of the Legal Aid Board. He noted however that about 70 percent of Sierra Leoneans lives below poverty line; whilst speaking on the need for effective integration and coordination to combat the challenges regarding the achievement of the SDGs.

Relating to the objective of the workshop, Chairman for the SDGs Committee in Parliament, Hon. Yusuf Mackery gave an overview about the configuration of the current Parliament; adding that the global call to action to end hunger and poverty by 2030 is a laudable initiative to make the world a peaceful environment for all. He also spoke on the need for capacitating the new MPs and the provision of budgetary support to enhance effective oversight for the realization of these goals.

Submitting on behalf of the Leader of Government Business, Hon. Dickson Rogers pledged that Parliament would enact laws that are friendly to the SDGs; adding that Sierra Leone has identified goals 4 and 16 relating to SDGs dealing with education, peace, justice and strong institutions as integral to its development agenda.

Speaking on behalf of the Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Amadu Kanu spoke on the need for engaging Parliament in pursuit of achieving the SDGs. Relating to oversight, he called on Government to “align its priorities consistent with the SDGs”.

Speaking on behalf of UNICEF, Maryam Abdu referred to MPs as “a catalyst for development”; saying that UNICEF is willing to support policies and legislations that are geared towards reducing poverty; particularly on children.

Speaking on behalf of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, Isabel Obadiaru spoke on the promulgation and the articulation of SDGs by gathering inputs from global parliaments; cognizant of governments determination and commitments. Whilst noting the importance of holding the government to account; she alluded to a global survey indicating that “56 percent of parliaments have organized and raised awareness on SDGs for MPs and Staff; whereas 38 percent have failed to do so”.

Also speaking on behalf of the Minister of Planning and Economic Development, Dr. Moikowa spoke on the need for strategic partnership with Parliament; referencing the country’s Medium Term Development Plans, progress on goal 4 regarding education and increased enrollment for girls in schools. He also spoke about goal 16 relating to justice and the fight against corruption; and the need for domesticating the self-assessment agenda relating to the attainment of the SDGs by 2030.

The self-assessment questions are building understanding of SDGs in parliament, bringing the SDGs from global to local level, mainstreaming the SDGs within parliamentary mechanisms, making laws in support of SDGs, financing the SDGs, monitoring the implementation of SDGs, engaging with the public and ensuring the SDGs serve the most vulnerable in the country.

Nancy Magbity and Mary Kowa are the Clerks responsible for the Committees on Inter-Parliamentary Union and the Sustainable Development Goals in the Parliament of Sierra Leone.

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