His Excellency President Dr Julius Maada Bio has told a high-level panel discussion on reducing inequality that Sierra Leone has mapped out a bold agenda to tackle problems of poverty, inequality and national development by planning around specific human capital development interventions.
“We have developed a fully-costed Medium-Term National Plan that lays out our development priorities in neat clusters. Central to that national development plan is the flagship programme – Human Capital Development – that proposes elevated investments in quality education, quality healthcare, and food security.
“A nation’s greatest resource is its human capital. A well-educated and healthy population is a future skilled and resourceful population that will propel our nation along the path of sustainable national development,” he said.
President Bio also added that as a consequence his government had invested heavily – 21% of Annual Budget – in free quality education policy, targeting 2 million children, most of whom could not afford the US$20 school fee, were now in school.
“We have created safe spaces for girls in school and we have passed a new Sexual Offences Act to protect women and girls from rape and sexual and gender-based violence. The First Lady’s vigorous campaign, against early child marriage, sexual exploitation of girls, and other seemingly entrenched cultural attitudes (including taboos on menstruation) that lead to the exclusion of girls from school, has resonated across the country,” the President stated.
On the panel was Minister of Gender and Children’s Affairs, Ms Manty Tarawalli, who talked about state ownership of the process of poverty alleviation and social protection, adding that the government was putting structures in place to generate more local resources and minimise donor interventions in future.
“By the structures we are building now, we hope that in a few years’ time we would have created more wealth and sustainable systems that will help us take care of own social support projects,” she said.
Also on the high-level panel was His Excellency Alpha Barry, Burkina Faso’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Dr Fitsum Assefa Adela, Ethiopia’s Minister in charge of Planning and Development Commission and Peter Kamalingin, Oxfam’s Pan Africa Director and Resident Representative to the African Union.