Sierra Leone Telegraph: 24 September 2019:
The Parliament of Sierra Leone has organized a three-day workshop to discuss the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The workshop which commenced yesterday, 23rd September, is co-supported by the Inter-Parliamentary Union and UNICEF, and is taking place in Bo.
Over 50 members of Parliament drawn from various Committees, including the Inter-Parliamentary Union and SDGs and Staff of Parliament are attending the workshop.
The workshop will include self-assessment and identification of priorities by Parliamentarians with regards to Sierra Leone achieving the SDGs.
Bernadette Wuyata Songa MP, chairperson of the Committee on Inter-Parliamentary Union is chairing the workshop.
Welcoming the participants, the Clerk of Parliament – Paran Umar Tarawally spoke about 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, Segepoh Solomon Thomas, spoke about the gains that have been made so far by Government in relation to the launch of the National Development Plan, the introduction of the Free Quality Education, and strengthening of the Legal Aid Board.
Speaking about the need for effective integration and coordination to meet the challenges of achieving the SDGs, he noted that about 70 percent of Sierra Leoneans live below the poverty line.
Chairman for the SDGs Committee in Parliament, Yusuf Mackery MP, gave an overview of 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 place for all.
He also spoke about the need for capacitating the new MPs and the provision of budgetary support to enhance effective oversight for the realization of the SDGs.
Submitting on behalf of the Leader of Government Business, Dickson Rogers MP pledged that Parliament would enact laws that are friendly to the SDGs. He said 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, Amadu Kanu spoke about the need for engaging Parliament in pursuit of achieving the SDGs. On parliamentary 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”. She said that UNICEF is willing to support policies and legislations that are geared towards reducing poverty, especially child poverty.
Speaking on behalf of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, Isabel Obadiaru spoke about the promulgation and the articulation of SDGs by gathering information and data from global parliaments.
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”.
Speaking on behalf of the Minister of Planning and Economic Development, Dr. Moikowa spoke about the need for strategic partnership with Parliament, referring to the government’s Medium Term Development Plan, progress in achieving SDG 4 which is about education and increased enrolment of girls in schools.
He also spoke about Goal 16 – 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 session of the workshop will build parliamentarians’ understanding of the SDGs, 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.