Sierra Leone National Assembly Embraces Climate Change in Legislation

13 December 2019

Freetown, Sierra Leone — Over 50 members of Parliament of the Republic of Sierra Leone were trained on co-production, packaging and application of weather and climate information services (CIS) on the 12-13 December 2019, through the support of the ACPC's WISER programme of UNECA. The training was a build-up on the training of trainers (ToT) for legislators and influence groups that was held in Addis Ababa in 2016, to facilitate the rollout of the training to member states using those that were trained as trainers, in their respective countries.

Hon Rosaline Smith, who was one of the Sierra Leonean representatives that participated in the ToT in Addis Ababa, in collaboration with the Africa Climate Policy Centre, convened and organised the training for the Sierra Leonean Legislators. She led the development of the training content based on the learning module developed by ECA in collaboration with UNITAR.

Speaking at the event, Hon Umar Paran Tarawally, Clerk of the Assembly, underscored how evident is the gap in technical knowledge of climate information among the MPs and their research staff. He lauded ECA for recognizing this need and taking steps in addressing it, and the legislators for sparing time from their busy house schedule to participate. Frank Rutabingwa, the WISER project coordinator at ECA highlighted the concerns triggered by losses incurred particularly in climate sensitive economic sectors in the continent. He urged for commensurate investments to enhance capacity and build resilience to climate impacts that will continue to ravage the continent if unabated. The acting leader of government business, Hon Dickson M. Rogers, noted the interlinkages between the SDGs and climate change, and how development can only be realized by addressing both in tandem. The deputy leader of the opposition, Hon Ibrahim Ben Kargbo narrated his first-hand experience of the 2017 Freetown mud slides that killed over 1,000 people close to his residence.

The two-day training was delivered using a novel design that ensured interactive participation of the members, through Questions and Answers and breakout sessions. Besides providing definitions, sources and users of CIS, members were briefed on developing climate change legislation, budgeting, and monitoring and evaluation.

The director of the Sierra Leone Meteorological Agency, Mr Ibrahim Sinneh Kamara, briefed participants on the role of the Agency, and its observation network capacity to generate data needed for climate information services. He decried the small number of functioning automatic weather stations in the country.

The MPs in attendance requested that a succinct training outcome document be quickly drafted for deliberation in the legislative assembly and tailored in catalysing action in their constituencies. They promised to put a motion on the report for adoption on the floor of the house. Indeed, the speaker of the assembly Hon. Abass Bundu, paved the way for this possibility by presenting the objectives of the training workshop in parliament. In conclusion, he thanked ECA for this important training and introduced to the house the ECA team that came from Addis Ababa to facilitate the training.

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