For smooth operations EPA, Forestry Division, Metrological Department, SLAA now merged under Environment Ministry

By Mohamed Massaquoi

Professor Foday Moriba Jaward. Minister of Environment

As part of government strategy to harmonize activities of government agencies for effective service delivery, the    government of President Maada Bio has gazetted the Environmental Protection Agency, (EPA) the Forestry Division of the Ministry of Agriculture, the Metrological Department formally of the Ministry of Transport and Aviation, the National Protected Area Authority (NPAA)   to now operate under the Ministry of the Environment

This revelation was made by the minister of the Environment, Professor Foday M Jaward during a regional consultative meeting for the review of environmental regulations and policies in Sierra Leone.

In Port Loko, Makeni, Bo and Kenema stakeholders from various institutions including paramount chiefs, district and city council chairpersons, environmentalists among others extensively discussed the EPA, NPAA and Forestry Acts respectively.  This is to ensure proper coordination for effective service delivery.  

Whiles addressing the gathering, the Environment minister said over the years, successive governments have not treated environmental issues seriously but with the establishment of the Environment ministry by President Julius Maada Bio,  more commitments have been made by government and other agencies.

“This is the moment government has strongly considered environmental issues as significant in the development trajectory of the country.

It was on this note that the President insisted that this consultative conference on environmental regulations starts in the Port Loko district so that residents and local authorities can participate in the process.  I want to assure you that the president believed in addressing the needs of the people.

Before now, we have a small environmental division at the ministry of transport and later the division was transferred to the ministry of agriculture and finally to the ministry of lands country planning and the environment,” he said adding that he was pleased with the participation of people in the process.

“We are planning to plant five million trees across the country; I want to encourage you to participate in this process by filing the application document in order to join the process. 

My ministry has also put a policy together on solid waste management which will be presented to cabinet for deliberations,” he said and thanked the president for giving him the responsibility to serve his people.

Representing UNDP at the conference, Andrew Katta said  Sierra Leone is endowed with a variety of natural resources including lowland rainforest, mountain forest, freshwater, swamps, coastal and marine ecosystems but that  the irrational use of the environment and natural resources over the years have resulted in environmental degradation leading to flooding, windstorm, landslides, erosion, wildfire  causing disasters around the Country.

He said cutting down of trees in catchment areas have resulted to water stress particularly in the western Area which hosts 1.5 million people.

“Poverty and population increase are the underlying causes of environmental problems in Sierra Leone which have profound implication on deforestation and land degradation addressing environmental challenges is central to UNDP’s mission of eradicating poverty and inequality.

UNDP’s work on environment and natural resource management centres on delivering social and environmental sustainability through climate change adaptation and disaster risk management mechanisms. At national, district and community levels, activities are simultaneously directed at enhancing the legislative environment and increasing capacity to implement policy. I would like to also bring to your notice that the major challenges facing the government in dealing with environmental issues includes weak policies, institutions, implementation, week monitoring and absence of inter-sectorial coordination among government agencies among others,” he said adding that  UNDP  looked  forward to strengthening partnership with  the Ministry of Environment.

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