Sierra Leone: Development Ministry, UNFPA Launch Population Policy

The Ministry of Planning and Economic Development (MoPED) in collaboration with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) yesterday launched the Sierra Leone National Population Policy with the theme "Improving the quality of life of Sierra Leone."

The ceremony which took place at the Miata conference centre in Freetown, focused on improving the quality of life for the people of Sierra Leone by ensuring that the sustainable management of population growth is in line with the country's economic growth, poverty reduction and available resources, reproductive health, rapid decline in infertility and the subsequent shift in population age structure, which will help the country harness the demographic dividend that is needed to accelerate sustainable socio-economic growth and development.

The Statistician General of Statistics Sierra Leone, Professor Osman Sankoh, was quick to inform the gathering that the theme of his statement was "credible data for National development" which in turn was also the motor of his institution.

He said the reason he chose the said theme would be evidence by applying "demographic balance equation" which would clearly point out the need of any state in terms of population growth, thus adding that it would be difficult if the population grows uncontrollably more than the state can take care of.

Professor Sankoh said the national policy was needed to guide the change in population over a period of time.

He said even though policies were driven by specific goals, but the goal of the Sierra Leone national population policy was to 'improve standard of living and quality of life for Sierra Leoneans.

"It is without doubt that this policy has been developed on a solid foundation of data. It is equally without doubt that credible data would be needed in the next couple of years to measure progress of the indicators set for all the specific objectives," he said.

In her statement, the country representative for UNFPA, Dr. Kim Dickson, stated that she was pleased to witness the launch of Sierra Leone National Population Policy, which came as a result of years of work and investment by both the UNFA and MoPED.

She told the gathering that the policy was mainly geared towards improving the quality of life for Sierra Leoneans.

She further stated that the aim of the policy was to ensure that the investment of the population growth was in line with the country's growth, poverty reduction and available resources.

She added that the policy will improve the reproductive health for all and accelerated decline in fertility to ensure a subsequent shift in population and age structure.

"The UNFPA is pleased to have supported the government through the ministry of Planning and Economic Development in the process of developing and adopting this policy. We are encouraged by the foresight of the ministry. This policy will address key population; that is, the youth and women," she said.

The Minister of Information and Communications, Mohamed Rahaman Swarray, who represented the vice president, was quick to tell the gathering that his boss was unavoidably absent because of certain circumstances.

He expressed gratitude to the UNFPA and other development partners who put a lot of efforts to ensure the completion of the policy.

He noted that the launch of the policy was a major commitment of the government to have a national population policy that would support the national development goal through the incorporation of the demographic dimension that would contribute to meeting the basic goal of people and enhance the quality and utilization of national resources; the promotion of the health and welfare of the people, particularly mothers and children.

"Barely six months ago, President Bio launched the medium- term national development plan (2019-2023), titled: education for development. This medium term takes into account challenges and implementation risks, including the resource for population programs, limited human capacity and minimal experience in population programming, and institutional capacity to plan and implement the national population policy," he said.

He added that the commitment of government was to fully incorporate the national planning and development process in line with objectives set out in the national population policy.

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