Recently, Djibouti took a bold and much-needed step to improve their water supplies and enhance livelihood through their mission to restore their ecosystem – joining countries like The Gambia, Senegal, Mali, etc., to build the Great Green wall of Africa. Once completed, this initiative will create around 10 million jobs in rural areas by 2030. Wouldn’t it be amazing if Sierra Leonean Political leaders followed suit? – step up to develop sustainable solutions for our environment!
As the June 2023 general elections in Sierra Leone approach, politicians must prioritize environmental issues and sustainable solutions in their manifestos. Climate change has had a significant impact on Sierra Leone’s environment and economy, with the country ranked among the top 10% of the most vulnerable countries to climate change in the world. In recent times, several papers documenting the impacts of climate change on Sierra Leone’s environment and economy have been published by the Ministry of Environment. The National Climate Change Policy (NCCP) 2020 report estimates that Sierra Leone could face annual flood-related losses of up to US$200 million by 2030. The 2016 floods and 2017 mudslide were reminders of the urgent need to address environmental issues in the country.
Sadly, the country’s reliance on fossil fuels has led to dangerous levels of air pollution, land degradation, and a lack of clean water. We still use charcoal as our primary cooking fuel. Sea-level rise has forced many people to relocate, and deforestation has endangered the country’s wildlife and water supply. To tackle these issues, political leaders must incorporate environmental protection measures into public policy and incentivize companies to minimize their carbon footprint. Solar, wind, and other renewable sources of energy can be invested in to reduce pollution and save valuable resources. Reforestation and agroforestry programs should be financially supported by the state to reduce deforestation and restore previously lost green areas. This will aid in creating new employment, preventing soil erosion, and enhancing livelihoods for Sierra Leoneans. Preserving the country’s current forests will assist in preserving the country’s natural beauty, supporting tourism, and serving as a source of revenue and employment opportunities.
The government must prioritize access to clean water, develop effective sanitary infrastructure, and implement water quality control strategies. Getting people access to clean water first is a fundamental freedom many people in Sierra Leone lack. In addition to ensuring access to potable water, the government should prioritize the development of effective sanitary infrastructure in both urban and rural regions and implement effective water quality control strategies.
Sustainable agriculture methods like climate resilient agriculture and effective water management are two more areas where the government could invest. Coastal and marine challenges and regenerating damaged forests are other programs that can be prioritized. Early political support for environmental initiatives is essential to ensure a cleaner, healthier environment for Sierra Leone’s future. Politicians are responsible for ensuring that environmental concerns get enough attention in the upcoming elections.
Regarding these programmes, policymakers in Sierra Leone need to prioritize allocating sufficient funding to enable the government to make the necessary adjustments. The government’s ability to facilitate this will depend on its ability to facilitate open communication and cooperation among businesses, civic society, and other interested parties. This will enable a more transparent discussion on environmental sustainability and increase confidence in government measures’ efficacy and right application. When everything is said and done, Sierra Leone’s impending elections should be a chance to put environmental conservation and restoration at the forefront of government priorities.
To maintain Sierra Leone’s ecology, lawmakers should work to review national policies and implement international environmental rules and regulations. These rules, which have been adopted and ratified, should be domesticated through the parliament to ensure that they are implemented nationally. This is crucial to consider environmental issues and implement the best environmental solutions. It could entail encouraging corporations to embrace green technology, building a fund to support environmental restoration initiatives, and establishing laws to restrict deforestation and battle environmental issues. Politicians in Sierra Leone should use the upcoming elections to prioritize environmental protection, as their actions will significantly impact the country’s environmental future.
In conclusion, in the June elections, Sierra Leone’s politicians must prioritize environmental conservation and restoration in the upcoming June elections. The country can have a bright and healthy future if critical sectors are given the necessary resources and focus. Sustainable agriculture methods and effective water management are two more areas where the government could invest. Other programmes should focus on adapting to coastal and marine challenges and regenerating damaged wood. With early political support for environmental initiatives, Sierra Leone may enjoy the benefits of a cleaner, healthier environment in the years to come. Politicians have the responsibility to ensure environmental concerns get enough attention.
Haja Isatu Bah is a 25-year-old feminist, entrepreneur, and environmentalist. She has a degree in Environmental Studies from Skidmore College, New York, USA. She is also the founder of Uman4Uman – a social enterprise that produces and sells reusable menstrual pads to girls and women in Sierra Leone