Sierra Leone Telegraph: 19 June 2020:
Yesterday, the Ambassador of the Republic of Ireland to Sierra Leone, Lesley Ní Bhriain, held talks with Sierra Leone’s Minister of Planning and Economic Development, Dr. Francis Kai-Kai at his Tower Hill office, in Freetown.
The aim of the visit, the Ambassador said was to discuss Ireland’s support for the Government of Sierra Leone COVID-19 response, especially in key areas such as nutrition, gender equality, education provision, governance and human rights responses implemented through multilateral organizations and non-governmental organizations.
She spoke to the Minister about Ireland’s new international development policy that is based on the principle of “One World, One Future”.
Sierra Leone, the ambassador said is one of the key beneficiary countries worldwide of this new policy, aimed at “Leaving-No-One-Behind”.
Ambassador Ní Bhriain said that notwithstanding the impact of covid-19, Sierra Leone needs a renewed effort towards the realization of its Medium-Term National Development Plan (MTNDP 2019-2023), as the country has to deliver in a slightly different way to achieve progress on the MTNDP (2019-2023), especially as the government has set 2020 as the year of delivery.
In response, minister Kai-Kai noted the important role that Ireland is playing in supporting the Sierra Leone government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said the government is excited that Ireland is able to accept and support the government’s Quick Action Emergency Response Plan (QAERP) to help mitigate against the economic impact of the restrictive measures on people across the country, especially the most vulnerable.
Dr. Kai-Kai said the need to deepen cooperation with development partners, especially the NGO’s is critical. He said government’s policy of working with NGOs and deepening the relationship is a game-changer in filling very important gaps in the country’s development process.
“Our focus is to see how we can harness the organizations you support and get them to focus on government’s agenda on the ground, in all districts. This will enhance the socio-economic development of the country through innovative cooperation and business development initiatives,” said Minister Kai-Kai.
The Deputy Minister of Planning and Economic Development, Dr. Robert Chakanda, speaking about his experience gained across the country, noted the significant role NGOs are playing in the most vulnerable communities in the provinces, including those supported by the Irish government
Also present at the meeting were: Mary O’ Neill – Head of Development at that Embassy of Ireland, Peter Sam-Kpakra – Development Secretary at the ministry of planning and development.
According to reports published this week, the government has levered over Le 270 billion of funding support from NGOs in the country to help government tackle the covid-19 pandemic.