The Mano River Union Ecosystem Conservation and International Water Resources Management project on Monday started a three-day meeting in Kenema city to develop its Strategic Action Plan (SAP) in order to adequately manage the Moa/Makona and Mano River basins.
The meeting which attracted participants from the other Mano River Union (MRU) Countries (Guinea, and Liberia) was to validate issues emanating from the just concluded Transboundary Diagnostic Analysis, and to put to work skills acquired from previous engagements on how to develop an SAP. The Strategic Action Plan (SAP) is basically a long-term ecosystem development and water resources management vision and objectives for the Moa/Makona and Mano River basins.
The meeting addressed issues like understanding the concepts, methods and tools required in developing an SAP and its Investment Plan; a thorough understanding of the TDA/SAP process and how it fits within the Global Environment Facility (GEF) International Water Resources Management (IWRM) Project; outlining communications channels for better dissemination; and identifying the need to better address key problems, including health and environmental risks in each target basin.
It further went into developing an approach to address emerging policy/strategy and operational issues and other issues of concern for the conservation and sustainable use of the resources of each transboundary target basin; identifying the main players in the development and implementation of the SAP and its Investment Plan; and outlining appropriate indicators to measure program outputs, achievements and impact.
Mr. Jacob Tanou Beavogui is the head of the Guinean delegation and is also the Acting Managing Director of Forestry Centre of Nzérékoré. He thanked the Mayor of Kenema and the people of Sierra Leone for the warm welcome, and said it is their desire that the meeting achieves the objectives for which it is convened.
Head of the Liberian delegation, who happens to be the Deputy Managing Director of Operations at Liberia’s Forest Development Authority (FDA), Hon. Joseph J. Talley, conveyed greeting from the President and government back home. He said the development of the SAP is a working vision for the two river basins, which Sierra Leone happens to share with Liberia. He said he hopes the meeting would be fruitful for both countries and their citizens, especially for communities whose lives are affected by transboundary water.
The Paramount Chief of Koya Chiefdom, PC Alameen Kanneh, welcomed the delegate and lauded the efforts of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) for making the project a reality. He said the MRU project has highlighted the spirt of collaboration among sister countries in the sub region. He said it is important how we localize our interventions to tackle global issues like climate change, global warming and others, at community level, and how these efforts affect even future generations.
“It would take commitment and sacrifice to realise the set goals, but it is doable. Our animals and biodiversity do not care about our geopolitical boundaries; we too should not be limited by barriers in protecting our ecosystem. We hope this engagement transforms mindsets as we rush to save our planet, which is presently plummeting into disaster. The most important resource for life on this planet-water, is at risk. We need to save it.” The Chief said.
Delivering a statement on behalf of the MRU Secretary-General, the Deputy Secretary-General in charge of Administration, Mr. Mamadi Doumessy, said the essence of stakeholder participation in such a meeting is to emphasize the need to properly manage transboundary issues, as they border on water security, food security, and physical security against natural disaster, human health, and adaptation to climate change.
“The current trend of population growth and the impact of climate change on our ecosystem requires an urgent balance between meeting human needs and maintaining a stable and healthy environment. MRU has the 3rd largest biodiversity zone in the world and serves as a source for most West African rivers. Our mandate is primarily to ensure the establishment of a peaceful, stable and prosperous sub-region not just for our governments and leaders but for our local communities.” Mr. Doumessy said.
The Mano River Union Ecosystem Conservation and International Water Resources Management project is implemented by the National Water Resources Management Agency (NWRMA) and the National Protected Areas Authority (NPAA), with support from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), through the Mano River Union (MRU). It aims to address issues around loss of biodiversity, deforestation, land degradation & soil erosion, and water pollution.