The Minister of Planning and Economic Development has stated that the New Direction Government under the leadership of His Excellency President Brigadier (retired) Dr. Julius Maada Bio is particularly keen in ensuring that the vulnerable and disadvantaged members of society are highly prioritized in all of the country’s development processes.
Dr. Francis Kai-Kai made this statement at the Donor Conference organised under the South-South Cooperation for the socio-economic empowerment of persons with disabilities held at the Bintumani Conference Centre in Freetown. The Ministry of Social Welfare (MoSW) in collaboration with One Family with support from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) used the platform to highlight the tremendous strides made by the MoSW and other stakeholders in addressing the myriad of challenges faced by persons with disabilities.
Minister Kai-Kai said the government has demonstrated unflinching commitment in advancing the rights of persons with disabilities.
“Our President and the New Direction Government put people at the center of all development interventions. We are keen in ensuring that women, children, persons with disabilities and youths are considered at the center in any national development plan produced, policy made, legislation passed and the implementation of program interventions”, said Minister Kai-Kai.
He went on further to say the donor conference should be seen in the context of the overall strategy of engaging on and keeping disability issues firmly on the national Agenda; noting that Policy Cluster 5 of the Medium-Term National Development Plan 2019-2023 was dedicated to the vulnerable groups with the deliberate intention of ‘leaving no one behind’ which is also the spirit of the UN SDGs 2030.
Dr. Babatunde Ahonsi, the UN Resident Coordinator, said the ‘leave no one behind’ principle was the central, transformative promise of the 2030 Agenda and embedded in all seventeen (17) Sustainable Development Goals was disability consideration. He said the opportunities that the South-South Cooperation created could serve as a catalyst to harness new ideas and concrete projects as a means to enable voices from the global south to drive innovation in promoting development.
In her statement, Hon. Rose-Marie Bangura who is Chairperson on Social Welfare Committee in Parliament reaffirmed parliament’s commitment in providing advocacy in legislative and over-sight support required to not only strengthen the MoSW and its work, but also to enact laws that provide a conducive and enabling environment that removes all forms of discrimination and barriers to promote and uphold the rights of people living with disabilities.
Delivering the keynote address, the Minister of Social Welfare Mrs Baindu Dassama-Kamara, said the gathering focused on strengthening partnership for the achievement of the goal of the agenda for sustainable development, which was ‘Leave no one behind’. She said they would highlight the various components of the Joint Action Plan on Disability in order to facilitate the mobilization of the much needed resources for implementation.
Minister Dassama-Kamara said the tireless efforts of all the staff of her ministry and partners have provided the enabling environment to address the issues of disability. She urged them to continue to affirm their commitment to an equitable and just society where every Sierra Leonean, both disabled and able-bodied could play a part in securing a prosperous future for the nation.
She ended by thanking donor partners who participated physically and virtually, noting that Sierra Leone would continue to remember them for providing an enabling environment to persons with disabilities.
The conference ended on a positive note with the Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office (FCDO) who participated virtually together with other development partners and NGOs pledging their support to the cause.
The South-South concept between Guinea and Sierra Leone was born from the Ebola experience in the three countries of the Mano River Union of Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia in 2014, where the findings, shared by the UNDP-Sierra Leone revealed that persons with disabilities were excluded from most of the interventions designed to achieve the resilient zero goal.