Posts Tagged ‘Sierra Leone’

E4S in Sierra Leone

Written by Alice Rees on . Posted in News, News & Updates, Sierra Leone

The E4S project was warmly welcomed by the Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology following several successful activities, and George of E4S Sierra Leone and The Kiradi Initiative was invited to join the curricula review team who are responsible for mapping the way forward for education in Sierra Leone.

Unfortunately, there were inconsistencies and the direction was unclear, especially with regards to key considerations such as who does what, how, when, and where. There was also some confusion about UNICEFs role in the process, exacerbated by the Ebola crisis. Then, after some bureaucratic shenanigans, the secretary and the director of the Curricular Review Office, both of whom had been keen champions of the E4S project, retired from their positions. These changes caused a general sense of confusion over the project’s next movements, and so we consulted the President’s Office for advice on how to proceed in this situation.

In the face of these continued challenges, George almost despaired of the project ever seeing any movement or progress, and came close to abandoning it to work on something new. However, he realised that the E4S project is important and relevant – anyone who found out about it agreed that it is a project which could really make some important changes. George used patience and endurance to grease his elbows, pushing the project onwards and upwards, taking the daily challenges in his stride.

After consulting with the President’s Office, it was determined that the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) would be the authority best suited for dealing with this initiative, and we entered into discussions with the EPA, looking at the project’s concept and the scope of our planned activities.

Discussions With the Environment Protection Agency

EPA Sierra Leone logoThe first official meeting centred discussions around what the EPA does, and Nektarina & Kiradi’s role in promoting the E4S project’s main tenet; that sustainability should be included on school curricula as a separate subject.

Working with the EPA is already a great step in the right direction. They have regional offices across the country and, working closely with local councils, have formed around 100 nature clubs in schools (especially in cities), and already run campaigns on environmental education for sustainability.

The Executive Chairperson welcomed our involvement in this endeavour, as all hands are needed on deck to promote our common goals. George has been co-opted onto the strategic planning team, piecing together a roadmap leading to the introduction of sustainability as a school subject in both primary and secondary schools.

The greatest challenge we face is rolling out this scheme across the nation, building on the successes we have already achieved. Gaps need to be filled, and in this our role will be paramount.

We shared our insights, our activity proposals, and our global strategic plan. These thoughts and plans were most welcomed. Volunteering will also be a vital part of these initiatives, and interns have an important role to play as we move forward. Environmental assessments need to be carried out and expert advice of varying opinions must be sought.

They are open and ready to make our goal their goal and we will make their goal our goal.

Education For Sustainability in Sierra Leone, April 2015

Written by Alice Rees on . Posted in General Information, News, News & Updates, Sierra Leone

By George Mansaray, E4S Country Manager, Kiradi Initiatives, Sierra Leone

Introduction

The report under review is specific to the curricular review process and the collaborative efforts of other local organizations in ensuring its success by addressing the actual educational needs of the country.

It also focuses on the new path taken to engage the hundreds of school pupils that became pregnant during the Ebola sit at home ordeal to stay on course.

It further highlights challenges and recommendations for the smooth implementation of the said initiative.

sierra leone

The curricula review process

The review process for April has been fabulous, with lots of interest being shown by national organizations and government departments for the inclusion of sustainability issues in the curricula. The city council, the environmental protection agency and other like-minded groups organized much of the activities. This was a result of several presentations jointly done with local charities arousing their interest on the environmental challenges of the country. The revelations were shocking though and this has prompted further radio debates and community forums on the environment and sustainability.

More so, many organizations are using radio jingles appealing to the government to review the curricula with emphasis on sustainability.

Furthermore, the reopening of schools on April 16 offered the opportunity to use the first two weeks to visit high schools and do presentations on the E4S concept. Fifteen high schools were targeted, two teacher training colleges and ten primary schools.

A strong network has been formed and a proposal to pull resources together to take up the nationwide education campaign for sustainability is being looked into by all participating organizations.

However, the review process has been suspended for the month of May to pay attention to the proper management of schools after missing out for nearly a year.

The education authorities, however, realized that hundreds of young pupils became pregnant during the Ebola sit-at-home campaign. As they number in their hundreds, the girls themselves did not want to miss out in school, and so then the government has proposed an accelerated literacy project for these set of girls across the country. Therefore, a special curriculum will be developed in the month of May to keep these girls in school. The review team is currently working on the task for which I am involved to hammer sustainability to be a direct school subject in the accelerated literacy project.

back to school in sierra leone

The challenges

  • The challenges had been a lack of funds despite the acceptance of the initiative by the government. Lack of funds is not shown to the education authorities; our charity uses miscellaneous funds and salary from Nektarina to keep the initiative afloat.
  • A break in communication across the board
  • Left in suspense with regards the current status of the international office and project implementations across the various projects

Recommendations

  • Prompt response to project activities to enhance work as scheduled
  • Clearer lines of communication for updates to reduce waiting times of country manager and team.

Ebola and What it Revealed in Sierra Leone

Written by Alice Rees on . Posted in General Information, News, News & Updates, Sierra Leone

May 2015, Sierra Leone

Ebola became a household name when it unleashed its wrath on the majority of innocent and ignorant inhabitants of Sierra Leone in May of 2014. There was little knowledge about the Ebola virus and its transmission thread, and its symptoms were the same as malaria, typhoid fever, cholera and other common ailments prevalent in the country.

  sierra leone

However, despite warnings from World health organization emphasizing the deadliness of the disease, not much was in place to stop its spread. It overran the country and became uncontrollable, killing thousands of people and leaving some physically challenged and others bearing the brunt of other consequences such as being orphaned, stigmatized, and fleeing their homelands to would-be protected and safe communities where they met their untimely death.

The consequences did not stop there; it halted commerce, travel and the operations of extractive industries. Most people lost their jobs, schools and colleges closed for almost a year, farmers ate up seeds reserved for farming, and most foreign nationals had to leave. This in its entirety burst the economy with the inhabitants bearing the dire consequences.

There was seen a national and global complacency in the fight against Ebola. The nationals had ill knowledge about the disease and were generally ill-equipped to tackle the spread of the disease. The global response was very slow. Complacency and traditional beliefs overtook the real fight, disregarding the Ebola preventative messages and manipulating funds for self-gain rather than collectively using the resources to eradicate the virus disease.

However, as it became an international grand challenge, the global alliance to fight the deadly virus had a breakthrough in bringing the spread of Ebola under control. The exercises in achieving this success were very costly to the people of Sierra Leone, however, it had to be done, to save the nation from a catastrophic situation. Proactive local measures also make up part of the larger resilience in the fight against Ebola.

The times are yet challenging as the majority of the citizenry are struggling with daily survival. However, as infection rates dwindle, the government ordered the reopening of all schools and colleges on 16 April 2015 with precautionary measures put in place to protect the teachers and learners.

Learners received news of schools resuming with joy. One can feel and sense their joy as they had since been carrying on without the right to education, association and play. Many parents are still skeptical about the safety of their kids while the virus is still killing people, and every parent or guardian should take the time to remind their kids about Ebola, with messages of avoiding companionship, play and contacts of any nature. Schools hold veronica buckets as a policy for every child to wash his or her hands and go through temperature test to qualify for entry into the school compound.

  learners are happy to get back to school after the ebola crisis

The reopening of schools was not spontaneous, the government in itself was not sure of parents sending their kids to school. A national campaign reassuring parents of the safety measures already put in place by the education, health and the national Ebola response centre was done. However, the first week was unpleasant and even the second week. It gained roots in the first week of May when kids turned out in their thousands to rejoin themselves in learning after a restricted safety period of almost one year.

It is worth seeing the reunification of learners, disregarding all precautionary measures and counsel from parents hugging each other and explaining stories about the devastation of their various communities by the Ebola virus disease. They play football together, smack each other and do their tricks. In the heat, they cluster despite knowledge of avoiding body contact.

However, the first lessons are on Ebola in every school across the country. How to sustain the gains already scored in the fight against Ebola. The kids are now torchbearers at home in the fight against Ebola. They pass on the messages to their parents and other family members. They also watch with keen interest defaulters of the precautionary measures at home. They are also bold enough to tell their parents to wash their hands and even have a shower after any trip to the city centre, market, workplace or whatever.

The outbreak of the Ebola virus exposed the overall inadequacies of the country. It spans from poor health care delivery, high illiteracy rate, over-reliance on tradition over modern wisdom, selfish tendencies, filthiness, poor personal hygiene, ugly environmental decay, corrupt nature to the bones at higher levels, poor educational facilities, poor transportation service, very disgraceful social services specific to children’s welfare, greed at every cadre, unsustainable practices at every cadre of society, and disregard for the rural poor. The list has no end in sight…

The consequences are vivid, suffering of the poor in every human rights perspective. Will lessons be learnt – this remains the million-dollar question.

  sierra leone

There are still plenty of needs, but if charities intervene, will the grants benefit the needy or will it go into private pockets and fabulous reports written with beautiful photos to convince donors whilst the actual beneficiaries continue to languish in squalor – this is a great concern. This is borne out of experience working in a poor country like Sierra Leone…living it, feeling it and seeing it. Action taken in mind of this has been positive – frantically stepping out and making noise about it for a turnaround in the situation…this is one way of several other ways employed by the reporter.

Attention should be paid to direct foreign aid; it is worthwhile to come as volunteers to accomplish your heart’s desires of helping; or seek credible local charities to accomplish such tasks in an honest and transparent manner for the good of humanity.

Project’s expansion

Written by Marianne on . Posted in Cameroon, General Information, Ghana, News, Sierra Leone

Nektarina Non Profit is happy to announce the expansion of the Education for Sustainability project in Africa. As we care about adapting our global approach to local contexts, having representative and partners in the countries we are active is fundamental. After contacts and fruitful discussions with local representative, three countries have been added to the project.

In Ghana, we are now working with Pet & Lisa Organization to implement the project. The Ghanaian non-profit organization, led by Peter and Lisa Obrempong, was founded in 2011 to ‘Recruit, support, educate, empower and establish the poor, needy, street and homeless children and youth in their future livelihood and career development’. The first significant event we are implementing together aims to inform and sensitize youth of the Volta Region on sustainability issues and on the need for sustainability education and practices as a way of life.

The E4S project is being implemented in Cameroon through our local representative Jean Paul Brice Affana in Yaoundé. With a solid background on tackling sustainability issues at national and international level, and experience in promoting the importance of education for sustainable development, our partner has now started the implementation of the project in Cameroon. The ‘Children and Youth Drawing Competition and Teachers’ Workshop on Education for Sustainable Development’ is ongoing.

While we were partnering with our local representative in Sierra Leone, the Ebola virus outbreak emerged and developed in the country and its neighbouring countries. The Ebola is one of the most serious viral diseases in humans. The case-fatality rate can reach 90%. The current outbreak occurring in West Africa has generated more cases and caused more deaths than previous outbreaks. A state of emergency has been declared by the president to fight the disease. All charities and volunteers have been alerted and requested to carry out sensitization, education and material support in their areas of operation as an addition to government’s efforts to government’s effort. We are supporting our local representative George Mansaray, a social worker and sustainable development teacher, in all the activities he is carrying out with communities.

You will find more information about all these activities soon on our website, facebook page and Flickr.

Sierra Leone: Diamonds Are Not Forever

Written by Anam Gill on . Posted in Anam's blog: Global issues, Books & Magazine, E-Magazine, General Information, Green Economy, News, News & Updates, Publications, Take Action

What_price_for_those_diamonds__by_Joe_Leo

Photo Source: Amnesty International

The recent Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa declared a global health emergency by World Health Organization made me recall the time I spent in Sierra Leone and Liberia few years back. At that time the two countries were in a rebuilding phase from the long civil war which ended in 2002.

A clear incident flashed before me when the catchy names of these countries were shown in the tickers while watching world news. Seeing the resilience of many people I met on my journey was not only inspirational but also unbelievable. Watching all those war amputees, both young and old, telling me that we are no more at war and we hope to see a better future was extraordinary.

I remember I had to buy a tooth brush and my host, Christy, took me to a shop that not only had Swiss cheese but also Belgian chocolates on sale. I was surprised to see a small shop in Sierra Leone having fancy stuff on sale while the rest of the country was in a dilapidated state. Later Christy took me to the place from where she used to buy things. It was an open space with tables and it was shocking to see all the chicken parts on sale and lentils sold in small (the tiniest I have ever seen) pouches. When asked about the shop where she took me earlier, she told me that it was for the UN peacekeepers in the country as people like us cannot afford to buy things from there.

I am always bothered to see the polar extremes in various places that I have been to and also the polar extremes in my country of birth, Pakistan. Yes polar extremes exist everywhere and yes they have become an accepted reality.  I can visualize how things can be in those countries with the deadly outbreak that resulted in approximately 930 deaths in West Africa.

The other day I was reading that a man in Saudi Arabia who contracted the disease during his business trip died in Jeddah. Moreover major airlines like British Airways and Emirates have halted flights to affected countries. Many expatriates are leaving the countries. Blockades have been established in many places, shutting down the affected communities. Also in the news, a Roman Catholic Priest repatriated with one of the nuns is now in a stable condition in Madrid where the sixth floor of the hospital was evacuated for their treatment.

So what about the ones who are left behind in a place where the virus is gnawing at them?  Lacking medical equipment and training to handle the disease many of the doctors have fled the affected areas. The outbreak must be costing the war scarred economy millions of dollars but above all it is killing people, it is costing their lives.  International aid organizations would be ready to help but with the imposition of ban on travel and trade whether many will be helped is still a question.

Stephen Morrison, the director of Global Health Policy Centre while talking to Newsweek said that the containment of the disease is becoming impossible for the governments to handle. The WHO health officials said that the threat is serious but can be controlled blaming the region’s poor public health infrastructure. What if it is not just West Africa? What if an unknown deadly virus erupts somewhere and cannot be controlled?  Many countries around the world have poor public health infrastructure because sadly health is not governments’ number one priority. In this case the developing world becomes an easy prey with little resources to fight. We can spend billions on defense fighting each other but when it comes to defending ourselves from the unknown ailments which are a result of our mal practices in general  for example cancer, we don’t know what to do.

Sierra Leone is apparently at peace today bearing deep scars. It is ranked 180 of 187 on the latest Human Development Index. With a low literacy rate where 20 percent of children die before their fifth birthday, to date thousands of survivors lack medical or psychological treatment. Almost two third of the population lives on less than one dollar a day. Relatively stable countries, Sierra Leone and Liberia yet again face another shock.

I cannot forget the beautiful beaches and hills of Sierra Leone. A country rich is natural resources is fighting yet another battle. If only the resources and wealth of a country are put to good use many of the ills plaguing the country can be dealt with effectively. Changing the game which has been played for years benefiting just a few is the need of the day.

Here I would like to talk a little about the famous blood diamonds.  According to World Diamond Council which represents the commercial diamond trade, blood or conflict diamonds are traded illegally to fund conflict in war-torn regions, particularly in West and Central Africa. Conflict diamonds are defined by United Nations as “…diamonds that originate from areas controlled by forces or factions opposed to legitimate and internationally recognized governments, and are used to fund military action in opposition to those governments, or in contravention of the decisions of the Security Council.”

diamond mine near Kenema, SL 2001 Getty images

Diamond mine near Kenema, Sierra Leone

Photo Source: Getty Images

It has been told by the experts that the illegal sale of blood diamonds has produced billions of dollars to fund conflicts and civil wars in various African nations including, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast, Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola. In response to the greed and genocide, Kimberley Process Certification System was created in 2002 to regulate diamond trade and keep blood diamonds from entering the legitimate market. The Kimberley Process was put into practice by United Nations. Proponents of Kimberley Process claim 99 percent of world diamonds are now legitimate however the critics claim that this program does not prevent diamonds from being easily smuggled. It should be noted here that Africa supplies 60 percent of the world’s diamond supply.

Some people all over the world love to wear diamonds, a stone that has been made valuable at the cost of somebody’s life. We don’t know where these diamonds come from. We don’t want to think about it as long as we get a dazzling stone around our necks or fingers.  Today we have been blinded by our need for more. Today development depends on more production and more consumption. If only we realize how this need for more is causing harm to this planet. We are at war with ourselves and should not blame anyone else for the mess which we face all over the world, a mess that has various shapes and sizes. Our focus is entirely on faster, newer and cheaper that we have actually lost ground on things like safer, healthier and fair. We are motivated to find solutions but those solutions aren’t the most need solving. We are playing the game with one goal and that is the need for more.  In this game of more we need to change our goal and that would be towards betterment, better health, better jobs and a better chance to survive on this planet. The laws and rules that define development need to be redefined.

Flashing the stones, glamorizing material goods and manufacturing things which we don’t need at all in this game of more make us forget the worsening health indicators, the growing income inequality and the melting of polar icecaps to name a few. Today water is on sale and maybe in the years to come we will have air for sale too, if we don’t change the game. We have become individuals with insatiable appetites accumulating more and more. 40 percent of Earth’s resources are owned by 1 percent of the population. The combined wealth of three richest individuals in the world exceeds the GDP of the 47 poorest countries. The world contains only 497 multi billionaires while half of its population survives on less than 2 dollars per day. It is time we start thinking of the connected self where we all are inter dependent.

Mass Mutilation Sieera Leone

Mass mutilation Sierra Leone

Photo Source: Google

These glittering diamonds which people like to flaunt are extracted by thousands of men, women and children who are used as slaves in countries like Sierra Leone.  In Sierra Leone a group known as the Revolutionary United Front threatened, killed and mutilated people living and working in diamond villages until they were able to take control of the mines. About 20,000 innocent lives suffered bodily mutilation, 75,000 killed and 2 million fled Sierra Leone according to PBS Online NewsHour. These conflicts combined have displaced millions and resulted in more than 4 million deaths according to National Geographic News.

Now when I think of it, we can survive without diamonds. No?  It can be seen that the lack of political will among member states has made the Kimberley Process ineffective.  According to Amy Barry of Global Witness while talking to CNN, Zimbabwe is a test case for Kimberley Process. She alleged that Robert Mugabe’s regime benefited from the sale of blood diamonds despite it being a member of Kimberley Process. However the conflict trade costing the lives of millions of people is not limited to diamonds. Rebel fighters and army units from eastern Democratic Republic of Congo have hijacked the trade in mineral ores used in mobile phones and computer production according to Global Witness. This has subjected the local population to extortion, rape, massacres and forced labor. Later on the conflict minerals are laundered into global supply chain by export houses before it is being transformed into refined metals by large international smelting firms.

Being part of this rouge trade just for the sake of profits or to be more apt money is nothing but inhumane. We should realize the fact that we are not immortals who will be on this planet forever. It is important to realize that we are all connected and a suffering in any part of the world is the suffering of humankind.  Right now we might get away by thinking that it is the people of Palestine who are at stake or child soldiers in Democratic Republic of Congo or polar bears in the Arctic but it will not be too late when we will be in the same boat. It is important to change the game which gives us a false economic model based on the need for more. We need to think with reason and say no to things which we don’t need instead of blindly accumulating stuff at the cost of others. The economic model which we need to follow should be sustainable keeping in mind better survival on this planet instead of making more or having more.

It is not an easy task for sure but neither is this impossible. By thinking and adopting a collective and selfless approach we can surely come out of the many self created problems. Let’s change the game by adopting less is better and prevent the downfall of humanity.