Showing posts from January, 2015

Koinadugu’s vegetable women farmers suffer 2 Billion Leone loss

Koinadugu’s vegetable women farmers’ cooperative is struggling to repay a loan of over two hundred and fifty million Leones to Union Trust Bank, reports Sall Tee Jay. The co-op borrowed money to buy seeds and fertilizer for growing vegetables, which perished as a result of Ebola quarantine measures that restricted movement of people and transport and halted trade.

Haja Sundu Marrah, chairwoman for the Koinadugu Women Agricultural Organization, said the Ebola outbreak is making it difficult to harvest and sell their produce. Between August and September last year they suffered a loss of over two billion Leones on carrots, tomatoes, beans, lettuce, pepper, cabbage, radish, cucumbers, onions, and other vegetables.

"We the women of Koinadugu District are frustrated with the blockade (which) prevented us from transporting our produce to market. Vegetables perished on board vehicles at the checkpoint. We are currently battling to pay a loan of over two hundred and fifty million Leones…

Ebola in Sierra Leone: Challenges and Prospects for Young People

Last Tuesday, Sylvia Blyden, a former senior executive assistant to President Ernest Koroma, was on a panel at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, an independent policy institute in Britain.

Blyden, who serves as youth rights activist and Goodwill Ambassador for Sierra Leone, discussed her experience of the challenges faced by young people as a result of the Ebola crisis and explored ways in which the government of Sierra Leone and the international community can collectively respond. 

London, January 20th 2015: Thank you to the Royal Institute of International Affairs for inviting me to speak this evening here at Chatham House and thank you Alex Vines, Head of the Africa Programme for chairing this event. I am honoured to be sharing a Panel with distinguished personalities like His Excellency Edward M. Turay, High Commissioner of Sierra Leone to the UK, Mr. George Hodgson, Head of Ebola Taskforce, Foreign & Commonwealth Office and Mr. Layne Robinson, Head of Youth Progr…

Is the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone over? Not yet...

Anti-Ebola measures such as a ban on washing the bodies of victims remain in place, but restrictions on movement within Sierra Leone will be eased to support economic activity, President Koroma said in an address to the nation late Thursday. Read the full text below. 

Fellow Sierra Leoneans

We have been ensuring a steady downward trend in the number of Ebola cases in Sierra Leone over the past seven weeks and I wish to express my deep and sincere gratitude to all those who have contributed to this achievement. In my working visits to all districts and nearly all treatment centers in the preceding months to urge, endorse and monitor the measures we have collectively taken, I saw first hand the courage and great work of all our Ebola response workers and the determination and commitment of ordinary Sierra Leoneans to fight this disease. We owe the downward trend to this collective commitment This positive development also reflects the significant improvement in the infrastructure that g…

Ebola-related Stigma in Sierra Leone

Good news for Sierra Leone in the new year. Ebola is on a downward trend. The number of confirmed cases declined by 43 percent between December 22 and January 5 and they still continue to fall.

The bad news is Ebola-related stigma is on the rise. Sheriff Mahmud Ismail of the World Bank in Sierra Leone launches a humanitarian campaign for two people who are suffering from social rejection. Read on and take action:

When the Ebola virus struck Sierra Leone eight (8) months ago in May 2014, it did so with extraordinary barbarity. Like an overpowering insurgent; it sought to demoralize the strongest among those who battled its ferocious onslaught.

It practically decapitated the resistance and unleashed a reign of terror on the foot soldiers. Sierra Leone’s foremost specialist in hemorrhagic diseases, Dr. Umar Khan succumbed 3 months into the Ebola outbreak. Soon after, several senior doctors- 10 in all- perished.

About 200 health workers- nurses, midwives, lab technicians, ambulance driver…

Water and Sanitation | Is Sierra Leone On Track for July 2015?

Water, sanitation and hygiene programs were designed to contribute to the United Nations Millennium Development Goal (MDG) for water and sanitation. The goal, which calls for halving the proportion of the world's population without sustainable access to safe drinking water between 1990 and 2015, was met in 2010, five years ahead of schedule.

While this is a tremendous achievement, in 2012, 748 million people relied on unimproved drinking water sources.  Despite progress, 2.5 billion people in developing countries still lack access to improved sanitation facilities. 

Salhajj Tajj reports on the progress of water, sanitation and hygiene services in Sierra Leone and asks whether the July 2015 target can be met. 

Freetown, January 19, 2015 ---Despite efforts by the Ministry of Water Resources, the government may fail to meet its 2015 target on extension of water and sanitation services come July. Amid strides being made by families, communities, and like-minded organizations, there are …

Getting to Zero in Bonthe District

In Sierra Leone's latest situation report from the World Health Organization, the number of weekly confirmed cases is decreasing. However, transmission remains intense in the capital, Freetown, Port Loko District, and Western Area Rural.  But Bonthe District has not had a confirmed case in over 21 days.

Bonthe district comprises several islands and mainland of the Atlantic Ocean in the southern province of Sierra Leone. Its capital is the town of Mattru Jong and its largest city is Bonthe, on Sherbro Island. 

Alpha B. Barrie reports on a visit to the Ebola holding center in Mattru Jong by a team from the nation's Attitudinal and Behavioral Change Secretariat. The center in Mattru Jong has been housing suspected Ebola patients on Bonthe’s mainland.

Freetown, Sierra Leone--Dr. Ivan Ajibola Thomas, executive director for Sierra Leone's Attitudinal and Behavioral Change (ABC) Secretariat, congratulated Bonthe district for their efforts and stressed that the fight against Ebola …

Peter Penfold, "At home in Africa"

Peter Alfred Penfold, British high commissioner to Sierra Leone (1997-2000), was once blamed by the British government for an arms deal that became known as the Sandline affair. He had to give up his diplomatic career after serving for nearly forty years with the foreign office.

But he is held in the highest respect in Sierra Leone. In 1998, Penfold was granted the Freedom of the City of Freetown and given the honorary title of Paramount Chief for his role in Sierra Leone. Since retiring, he has taken on roles with various charities and other organisations focusing on Africa and Sierra Leone, including New Africa Analysis, the UK Association for Schools for the Blind, Sierra Leone (which supports the Sir Milton Margai School for the Blind in Freetown), and the Dorothy Springer Trust.

This January, Penfold had a closed door executive session with President Ernest Bai Koroma at State House Monday, January 12 after spending two weeks in the country. Below is Penfold's travelogue. 

I ha…

Sierra Leone's Battalion is Back in Town

Lungi, the primary airport for domestic and international travel to and from Sierra Leone, was a flurry of activity this week. On Tuesday, 116 soldiers of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces returned home after nearly two years in peacekeeping operations in Somalia.

Friday, January 16, saw another 116 soldiers arrive, with the third group returning from the Africa Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) landing Saturday morning.  The fourth batch is expected to arrive Sunday, January 18.

The troops were received at the Lungi-Freetown International Airport by Commodore Moses Miller, the assistant chief of defense staff, Lieutenant Colonel Amadu Bangura, chief of logistics, Lieutenant Colonel Sulaiman Massaquoi, chief of operations, and Director of Peacekeeping Operations Lieutenant Colonel Kemoh Sesay.

According to Colonel Michael Samura, spokesman of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces, the repatriation will continue until the last batch arrives on January 22nd, 2015.

850 Sierr…

When Sierra Leone is free of Ebola...

Picture this. The lines on the tabular situation reports, sent to the World Health Organization each day by its country office in Sierra Leone, have been full of zeros for 42 days. And the WHO has declared Sierra Leone free of Ebola. In this guest commentary, John Baimba Sesay has suggestions for tackling the nation's post-Ebola challenges. 

Whatever has a beginning has an end.  For a decade, Sierra Leone experienced one of the most horrendous of civil wars in the sub region. It ultimate end came with the question of how to tackle the post war effects like; a fractured and weak economy, conked out infrastructure, a corrupted society, a nation  traumatized; and a diluted social fabric, amongst others.

Solutions then included setting up of post war Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) projects, and the institutions helpful in our post war reconstruction and development efforts. That was how, with the cohesive efforts and supports by Sierra Leoneans institutions like t…

Sierra Leone's flag of convenience

While Sierra Leone was busy making plans to stop Ebola, a Sierra Leone-flagged cargo ship carrying 450 migrants was found powerless off the coast of Italy this week.

According to Deutsche Welle the Syrian migrants on board the cargo ship Ezadeen told Italian authorities they had each paid between $4,000 and $8,000 (3,300 - 6,600 euros) for their passage. Syria has been caught up in civil war for four years.

Rob Watson of the BBC News said the Ezadeen and the plight of its unfortunate passengers are part of an often unreported wave of human misery and hardship that sees hundreds of people try to cross the Mediterranean every day to reach Europe. On arriving in Italy, the Syrian migrants were taken to shelters around the country, where they can apply for asylum.

The migrants also told Italian investigators their smugglers aboard the cargo ship wore hoods to avoid identification before abandoning the helm in choppy Mediterranean waters.

The Ezadeen was built nearly 50 years ago and is a …

President Koroma's New Year message

President Koroma has used his New Year's Day broadcast to stress the importance of ending the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone. He spoke firmly about the actions needed to stop the chains of transmission and paid tribute to the nation's doctors, nurses and health personnel working to stem the disease.

"I firmly believe a resolution by each and every Sierra Leonean to act to end Ebola will see this virus defeated," the president said, adding that,"with individual and collective resolutions as families, district and region, it is now only a matter of time for our nation to end this outbreak, and like we did after the war, we will once again become a symbol of recovery, healing and growth," he said.

For the World Health Organization (WHO) to declare an Ebola outbreak over, a country must pass through 42 days, with no new cases detected. The 42 days date is fixed according to criteria based on the last day that any person in the country had contact with a confirmed…