Ministry of Planning and Economic Development (MoPED), with support from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), on Friday 26th August 2022 presented the Sierra Leone National Population Policy document to various stakeholders in Wara Wara Yagala chiefdom, Koinadugu district at the well-attended ceremony at the Koinadugu District Council Hall in Kabala.
In December last year, similar events were held in Kenema, Makeni and Bo cities respectively at which events it was revealed that there are eight objectives and 21 indicators in the policy, that 75% of the population is made up of youths, that 46% of the population is uneducated and that there is a big gap between school going boys and girls.
All the stakeholders, including the representative of the Paramount Chief of Wara Wara Yagala chiefdom, Gbawuru II Mansaray and the chairman of the Koinadugu District Council, Yembeh Mansaray pledged their unflinching support to the policy but underscored that if youths are not catered for they would become armed robbers, prostitutes and seek greener pastures abroad.
They went on to point out that the District is dynamic, that there are various tribes peacefully cohabiting in the district and described Koinadugu district as the land of milk and honey, promised that they would widely disseminate the policy for the benefit of the District, appealed to participants to be attentive and ask questions and promised to join government to implement the policy.
They also highlighted the challenging topography of the district and its high maternal mortality rate
In his PowerPoint presentation, keynote address and officiallyhanding over the policy document to stakeholders in Koinadugu district, the Director of Performance Management and Planning in the Ministry of Planning and Economic Development(MoPED), Dr. Robert Moikowa said the Midterm Census is to correct the anomalies of the previous one for accurate allocation of resources depending on the population of each district.
Dr. Moikowa apologised that due to the Covid outbreak in the country in 2018, government was late to popularize the policy, enlightened that the National Population Policy (NPP) was the first document launched by the SLPP government in 2018 to ensure that nobody is left behind citing the radical inclusion of all in the education sector, women’s empowerment, underscored that the policy is the roadmap that would be handed over to the people for ownership and appealed to them to monitor the process for sustainability.
According to Dr. Robert Moikowa, Sierra Leone pledged commitment at the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) to among others provide family planning, promote the use of contraceptives to manage the birth rate, reduce maternal and infant mortality, end child marriage as well as improve the lives of youths and appealed to all to widely disseminate the policy in their respective communities.
He further articulated that if the population is effectively managed, government would be able to provide basic services for the people and in the process increase life expectancy, stressed the need for decentralization of service delivery, that the policy prioritizes reproductive health and rights and that government wants to manage the population to harness the demographic dividends as majority of the population is made up of youths.
He continued that the policy is forward looking, all-encompassing and is based on credible data, disclosed that government plans to train and employ 1,000 midwives and health workers, reduce gender-based violence and harmful traditional practices in addition to prohibiting and criminalising child marriage, disclosed that the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has a crucial role to play in the policy citing the progress government has made to empower women, pledged that UNFPA would continue to support government due to its strong commitments to accelerate the ICPDs as well as budgetary support to the Ministry of Health and Sanitation to reduce maternal and infant mortality in the country.
He furthered that they are now practicalising the well-prepared policy, that UNFPA is supporting government to achieve the Mid-Term National Development Plan in addition to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and working to address key issues in the policy.
The representative of the Paramount Chief, Yembeh Marah revealed that they are the custodians of government policies, that chiefdoms account for three fourth of the country, that the event is very important and that implementation of the policy is now at their doorsteps.
Other stakeholders reiterated the need for the Mid-Term Census for proper planning, appealed to all for their support and effective dissemination of the policy, pledged their unflinching support to the policy and assured the people that their inputs would be taken onboard and presented to government and partners.
Gabriel Dumbuya of the National Population Secretariat, MoPED disclosed that the policy was developed in 2018 and launched by the Vice President of Sierra Leone in 2019 reiterating that the policy is very important for the country, underscored the need to manage the country’s population with the available resources so as to improve the lives of the people, especially women and children and affirmed that the Mid-Term Census generated credible data.
All the stakeholders reiterated that the importance of the Mid-Term Census cannot be overstated for proper planning, promised to sensitize their subjects on the policy adding that adult literacy would help to reduce the high illiterate rate in the country and pledged their respective commitment to the policy.
Other dignitaries who made statements included representatives of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), the security sector, women and youth leaders, nurses, religious leaders, teachers, the physically challenged and pupils.
The questions and answers session and distribution of the policy climaxed the highly interactive event.