Alan Luke: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 10 November 2019:
Dr Kandeh Yumkella MP for Constituency 062, and Abdul Titus Kamara MP for Constituency 061, visited island outposts in Kambia, northern Sierra Leone following the parliamentary sitting at which the government presented the 2020 Budget and ensuing bi-lateral discussions.
The NGC parliamentarians left Freetown at 5am. It is a two hour road journey from Freetown to Mambolo, and a further 90 minutes by boat to the islands.
These island communities in Sierra Leone are among the poorest in the country – with little or no access to public expenditure, in terms of investment in education, healthcare and other public services.
Water supply has to be brought to the communities in five gallon containers.
The first island, Mowaubul, has about 600 inhabitants and the second, Kortimoh, has about 2000.
The parliamentarians could not visit a third island, Yeliboya with about 5,000 inhabitants. Yeliboya is gradually being submerged by the Atlantic Ocean, due to the rise in sea level, which is a testimony to the reality that poor third world countries like Sierra Leone are experiencing the impact of climate change.
These island communities do not benefit from government policies and public expenditure. Talk of 5% GDP growth, Free Education, DSTI and National Development are abstract, with no impact on their lives. Quite frankly, they are forgotten communities.
Yumkella and Kamara visited a local school on Mowaubul, which operated from a makeshift building wrapped with tarpaulin, with no floor and a leaking roof. They observed local women drying fish over open fires, as there is no electricity supply and with the attendant health risks to women and children in particular and fire risks.
These communities are prone to fire disasters every year. Yet, islanders chop down mangroves to make firewood. The mangroves are the breeding ground for the fish their communities are reliant on.
According to Kandeh Yumkella, “poverty is not abstract to us, it is the reality of the 67,000 people in Constituency 062 in the Samu Chiefdom and the 42,000 in Constituency 061 in Mambolo/Magbema Chiefdom, riverine locations,” which he said have some of the worst social development indicators throughout Sierra Leone.
He said that MPs with constituencies like theirs see and feel the reality of Sierra Leone’s underdevelopment and attendant inequality and vulnerability, every week they visit their constituents.
The parliamentarians concluded their visit at 2pm to avoid being stuck on the islands at low tide.