AHEAD OF 2018 MARCH 7TH GENERAL ELECTIONS: National Grand Coalition sets priorities for Land and Environmental Management

Ishmael Kindama Dumbuya
The National Grand Coalition headed by two renowned Environmentalists in the persons of Dr. Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella (Flag bearer) and Ing. Andrew Keili (Running mate) has planned big for the environment by prioritizing issues on forest conservation and addressing land issues should they be elected to lead the country after the March 7th 2018 general elections. The Manifesto also known as working document which they planned to implement was launched at the Port Loko Township on Tuesday 13th February 2018 in the presence of supporters of the Party.

According to the Manifesto, the NGC commits to “the restoration of degraded areas and plantation establishment within and outside forest reserves for reforestation and plantation development, using fast growing indigenous and exotic species”. In other to sustainable manage this, the NGC plans to develop and support small-scale community tree nurseries by “establishing tree and plantain suckers in all districts” and “procuring all seedlings for national plantation development program and other reforestation efforts from these communities to generate income and create jobs”.
Apart from supporting the Conservation of Biodiversity and prioritize ecosystems by extending forestry conservation areas, the NGC also plans in its Manifesto to “re-survey and effectively demarcate forest reserve areas” and “support the protection of the remaining network of natural forest and biodiversity hotspots in the country to serve as gene banks for indigenous species and refuge areas for threatened, endemic and rare species”.
Making further promises in their documents, the NGC shall also hope to promote “replanting of trees along the banks of all major water bodies and their tributaries, to reduce silting and other negative human activities adjacent to river banks”.
There are presently many land issues yet to resolve by the government of Sierra Leone between Community landowners and Large-scale Land Investors in the country. Making a case study on this issue, the NGC commits itself in the 2018 Manifesto to “work with the judiciary to ensure that all existing land cases in court are resolved within 24 months of taking office, and the outcomes publicized”.
Adding further generally on land issues in the country, the NGC hopes to “ensure that Land can only be sold or leased by a land owner” and will also ensure to implement a policy barring individuals from holding lease or freehold on multiple parcels of government land in order to ensure more equitable allocation of government land.
On the side of housing in the country, the party plans to work with the private sector to develop a low and middle income housing scheme that will “within 36 months, provide 15,000 housing units in major urban centres around the country for low and middle income earners”. It will also publish annual reports on occupancy of Government Quarters and state lands.
The NGC plans to “review ownership of large-scale land for mining and commercial agriculture with a view to ensure adequate compensation to land owners, security of investments and maintain Community stability.
In a way to ensure disaster preparedness, the NGC hopes to “convert the Disaster Management Unit in the Office of National Security into an autonomous Agency and empower it to coordinate the efforts of all agencies in disaster management” as well as increase the current level of funding to support the national implementation of Disaster Risk Reduction and climate change adaptation policy and practice.
However, since charcoal is a major source of energy for many families in the country, the party hopes to emphasize the use of modern forms of energy to encourage a “shift from the use of wood fuel as a major source of energy.

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