By Public Relations Office, Ministry of Lands
An induction ceremony for members of the National Habitat Committee, charged with the responsibility to develop a National Urban Policy, was held at the conference room of the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Country Planning over the weekend.
Championed by the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Country Planning, together with the Ministry of Planning and Economic Development and the UN HABITAT, the committee is comprised of various stakeholders from government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), Local Councils and Civil Society Groups among others.
“Implementing the new urban agenda and SDGs in Sierra Leone towards formulation of National Urban Policy” was the theme for the induction ceremony.
The Minister of Lands, Housing and Country Planning, Dr. Turad Senesie assured the committee of the required support to ensure the formulation of the National Urban Policy in line with the medium term national development plan.
The Development Secretary in the Ministry of Planning and Economic Development, Peter Sam-Kpakra expressed appreciation to the UN HABITAT for supporting the tasking process.
He disclosed that urban planning will serve as a major pillar and engine for sustainable development, adding that it will also help tackle the challenges associated with providing good education and proper health facilities among other amenities.
Sam-Kpakra used the forum as an opportunity to commend the new Minister of Lands, Housing and Country Planning for prioritising housing and country planning issues.
The Director for Planning, Policy and Project Development in the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Country Planning, Dr. Alphajoh Cham, disclosed that Sierra Leone is currently in Stage 2 of the Demographic Transition which is characterized by high birth rate, declining death rate and rapidly expanding population with a base pyramid suggesting a younger population with about 41% below the age of 50.
He digressed on issues pertaining to rapid urbanization which include poor mobility that has led to traffic congestion and recurring environmental disasters.
“If we are not able to manage our cities it becomes difficult for any effective economic activity,” he said.
The National Consultant, UN Habitat, Saaid Conteh, National spoke of the imperative to enhance planning, improve living conditions of urban settlers, increase productivity and improve infrastructure to match the challenges associated with urbanisation.
“The UN Habitat is very much interested in promoting Sustainable Development Goal No. 11 which focuses on human settlement,” he noted.
According to him, the National Urban Policy is a government led process which will focus on coordinating and rallying various actors for a common vision and goal.
Conteh highlighted that the main purpose of the National Habitat Committee is to identify priority areas in the country and also serve as the main coordination mechanism to collaborate on issues that are related to urban development.