Concord Times (Freetown)

16 December 2013

Sierra Leone: MPs Conclude Capacity Building Training

Members of parliament from the ruling APC and opposition SLPP last Wednesday concluded a one-day capacity building training at the Shangri la Hotel along the Lumley Beach Road, Aberdeen in the west of Freetown.

The session was on teenage pregnancy and was held in collaboration with the Network of Female Ministers and Parliamentarians and the Sierra Leone Parliamentary Action Group on Population and Development with support from UNFPA and the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development.

Welcoming the members, SLPP member of parliamentHon. Veronica Sesay, who deputized for the president of the Female Caucus, said the training was an effort for MPs to look ahead and plan for their constituents.

"This training is a continuation of the two-day advocacy retreat on reproductive health, maternal and new born care and child health which was organized by the ministry of health and sanitation andthe Sierra Leone house of parliament in collaboration with the UNFPA country office," the MP noted.

"Meeting regularly and regenerate the organ at periodic interval is a major tool to strengthen the policy content and provide information for parliamentarians to effectively monitor and determine the progress made by government in achieving the MDGs, ICPD agenda and other internationally agreed goals."

Coordinator of the Sierra Leone Parliamentary Action Group on Population and Development, Henry Leigh, said the training will strengthen parliamentarians in reviewing the ICPD Program of Action and identify advocacy issues to their respective constituents, noting that it will also accelerate the implementation of the ICPD Program of Action through strategic partnership and advocacy.

The training, Mr. Leigh further noted, will increase the knowledge of female ministers and parliamentarians on lobbying and advocacy skills on population dynamics, as well as enhancing their capacity in order to fulfill their policy and legislative roles, identify areas through which parliamentary and ministerial advocacy can be strengthened.

UNFPA programme manager, Aiah L. Sososkoneh, who represented the country representative, presented a paper on the techniques and skills in advocacy.

Speaking on the techniques and skills in advocacy as a tool to effect change, Sososkoneh said Sierra Leone is challenged by high maternal and infant mortality with a new plaque teenage pregnancy.

He called for the analyzing of the environment by identifying partners and lobbying support from allies and build constituents, stressing that UNFPA is an ally of parliament inworking towards the reduction of teenage pregnancy.

Several other speakers presented papers on issues bordering on the ICPD, including Hon. Emma Kowa who gave a talk on the data on reproductive health in the country.

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