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Subject: SRSG’s speech at Mobai, Kailahun
Ambassador Daudi Ngelautwa Mwakawago
At the Handing over of Rehabilitated 1,596 acres of Palm Oil
Oil mill and Sopa factory at Mobai, Kailahun 7th October 2004
Distinguished Ladies and Gentleman.
I am delighted to honour your invitation to commission the handing over ceremony of the rehabilitated Palm Oil plantation, oil mill and soap factory in Mobai. The project funded through the Human Security Fund of the DDR section of UNAMSIL and managed by the UNDP, was implemented by the Eastern Clinic Rural Development. (ECRD).
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I would therefore like to congratulate UNAMSIL DDR section and the UNDP for the project designed to create job opportunities for the youth and generate income for about 550 direct beneficiaries. My felicitations also go to Eastern Clinic Rural Development, especially, its founder, Dr. Kobba, for implementing the project on time with a high degree of competence. It is not very common in Sierra Leone to see an indigenous, non-governmental organization like ECRD that engages in rural income generating activities as source of internal self-financing. What is commonplace is relying almost wholly on external funding. Perhaps it is a reflection of the impact of the decade long war. None the less, I am very impressed by ECRD programme which focuses on an integrated medico, agro-industrial self-reliance development , which creates abundant multiplier effects through food and sanitation needs of the people, job creation and the expending of income derived from both the projects and wages. Many non-governmental organizations, especially the national ones, have a lot to learn from ECRD. Needless to say the overwhelming majority of the people of Sierra Leone live in the rural areas. Their many afflictions of life need addressing. Abject poverty is the glaring problem. That is compounded by illiteracy and other constraints.
UNAMSIL has relentlessly supported genuine endeavours of the people of this country and the government, particularly, in the transitional phase in order to cushion the negative effects of the 10 year war. UNAMSIL has not only helped to keep the peace in Sierra Leone, but together with other members of the UN family and development partners, has been involved in both peace-making and peacebuilding at Chiefdom, district and national levels. Many quick impact projects have been completed by our troops working alongside with local entities. Schools, court barrers, police stations to mention but a few, have been commissioned all over the country. Last May, UNAMSIL assisted the government to successfully conduct democratic elections; facilitates the establishment of appropriate government institutions toward good governance, and many more pf such works are on-going. And we are proud to be part of this aspect of peacebuilding.
As the country gradually passes from the recovery phase to development stage, issues of socio-economic and infrastructural importance which affect the daily life of the people of this country come to the fore. It is for this reason that the government is working on the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper aimed at reducing poverty in the country. The strategy emphasized the continued development of agriculture which is the mainstay of the economy and whose development will address food security and youth unemployment.
Your project, therefore, should be seen in line with the poverty reduction strategy of the government as it is an example of private sector investment which employs many ex-combatants and a large number of youths, producing palm kernels, palm oil and soap. This project will go a long way in making a contribution to capacity building by imparting skills through practical work.
At this juncture, I would like to appeal for more investments in agro-allied industries of this nature which will provide employment opportunities for the youth and open up the country-side to economic and income earning activities. Leading financial institutions could open special windows in their portfolios that could be utilized by prospective investors in slam and medium scale industries, which have extensive impact on the economy and on the lives of communities especially in the rural areas.
To the management of this project, let transparency and accountability be your guiding virtues, in addition to taking good care of the well being of your workers. To the workers, you must dedicate yourselves to hard work and collective responsibility towards attaining better working conditions, which will in turn usher in harmony, higher productivity and good business returns. And lest I forget, it is absolutely necessary to organize educational programmes in order to enhance your knowledge of agriculture and crop husbandry in particular.
To the people of Mobai in particular and Kailahun in general, I wish to congratulate you for the rejuvenation of this project. I do believe, that with good management, it will bring prosperity to your district. I, therefore, implore you, as a community, to support and rally to its development. The future is in your hands. Resolve to do better and commit yourselves to search for more knowledge which will help you realize more productivity and that will lead to greater income generation.
Excellencies, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, as UNAMSIL draws down, it is fitting such projects should be launched. The people of Sierra Leone have to stand on their own feet. Indeed the international community would be more than willing to come to your aid where you demonstrate self reliance. I would like to assure you that the UNAMSIL and the entire UN family can be counted to render assistance in that regard.
The warmth of reception and your hospitality are greatly appreciated by me and my entourage.
It is now my greatest pleasure to handover the rehabilitated palm oil plantation, oil mill and soap factory. I implore you to take care of these assets and use them for the purpose they were intended.
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