Prof. Jaward spoke about the environmental governance framework in Sierra Leone and possible areas of intervention and the important strides the government of Sierra Leone is making to improve environmental protection and management in the country.
He informed his US counterparts that Sierra Leone’s environmental protection was saddled with enormous challenges and that the government of president Rtd. Brigadier Julius Maada Bio was working hard to ameliorate these challenges.
The Sierra Leone EPA Prof. Jaward said, is in dire need of staff capacity building in the form of training and equipment – particularly in the area of air, water, waste management and pesticide control. He further intimated the US EPA that training materials are inadequate, and for which urgent attention is required.
The Chairman added that further training is also required on key environmental issues at the local level, so that the public would be better positioned to contribute meaningfully to sound environmental management in the country.
Professor Jaward further noted that, given the high rate of illiteracy in the country, environmental education and awareness would form a key priority during his tenure as head of the EPA-SL. He stated that the president’s unwavering commitment to ensuring quality education for all Sierra Leoneans is an important step towards sustainable environmental management in Sierra Leone.
Mr. John Armstead of the US Environmental Protection Agency Region 3, spoke about the structural and legal framework of the US EPA, noting that the US EPA’s mission is to “protect public health and environment”.
Mr. Armstead went on to state that the US EPA was created in 1970 and that the institution has ten regional offices across the country that mirrors its headquarters in Washington.
He said that the US Congress has given USEPA the authority to implement environmental laws and provide funding for the implementation of those laws; and that the US-EPA works with state governments to implement its programmes across the United States.
Mr. John Armstead added that the US EPA has conducted training programmes at international level and that their focus is on waste, air and water pollution. He noted that “heightening awareness without having capacity will be failure”, adding that “ there should be equal investment in public education and capacity building in the same area, so that there is a response (on the part of the public) as the awareness increases”.
An official of the US EPA Headquarters, Office of International and Tribal Affairs, Ms. Theresa Kuklinski, promised to avail the EPA-SL a “public participation toolkit” that would be very instrumental in promoting public cooperation and awareness.
Ms. Theresa Kuklinski admonished the Executive Chairman of the SLEPA to involve Peace Corp volunteers in Sierra Leone in EPA-SL projects, since Peace Corps has established strong ties with local communities in the country. She also intimated Prof Jaward that the US EPA currently has projects in major cities in some African countries – including Ethiopia and Ghana.
A partnership with such a leading environmental institution in the US would no doubt be beneficial to the EPA-SL and to the country as a whole, which Prof. Jaward is poised to achieve.
Since he took over as Executive Chairman of the EPA-SL, Prof. Jaward has engaged several development partners, including multilateral environmental agencies, with a view to foster cooperation and improve Sierra Leone’s environmental landscape, a move that is germane to development and the promotion of the objectives of the New Direction.