The Ministry of Planning and Economic Development (MoPED), has on the 22nd May, 2024 held a day stakeholder’s engagement with persons with disabilities and other vulnerable groups with support from Sightsavers Sierra Leone.

The session focused on the 2024 National Voluntary Review (VNR) on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) implementation in Sierra Leone as the engagement came ahead of Sierra Leone’s presentation of its Voluntary National Review at the July 2024 UN High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) in New York.

The theme the engagement was based on the “Reinforcing the 2030 Agenda and eradicating poverty in times of multiple crises,” aligns with Sierra Leone’s commitment to addressing goals such as No Poverty (Goal 1), Zero Hunger (Goal 2), Gender Equality (Goal 5), Climate Action (Goal 13), Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions (Goal 16), and Partnerships for the Goals (Goal 17). Notably, the country will conduct an in-depth report on SDG 10, which seeks to reduce all forms of inequality by leaving no one behind.

The Executive Director of Youth and Children’s Support for SDGs, Bashiru Bah who doubled as the chairman of the event commended the government for its efforts in promoting SDG progress, especially concerning disabilities and vulnerabilities. He also praised Sightsavers for their support and highlighted the advances in disability issues through government initiatives and legislative reforms.

In her statement, Tiangay Cole the Country Lead for Sightsavers Sierra Leone, emphasized the importance of inclusive participation in preparing the VNR. She highlighted the disproportionate impact of poverty, inequality, and marginalization on persons with disabilities and underscored the necessity of centering their voices in the development process. She reaffirmed Sightsavers’ commitment to the SDGs, advocating for the full participation of vulnerable groups and the creation of an inclusive society.

Sao Lamin Korteque, Executive Secretary of the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities (NCPD), thanked MoPED and partners for their support. He discussed the legal framework supporting disability rights, referencing the PWD Act 2011, which aligns with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Alhaji M. Kanneh, Senior Social Service Officer from the Ministry of Social Welfare, expressed gratitude for the event and outlined the progress made in disability inclusion and socioeconomic empowerment through policy transformations and training programs.

On the part of the Ministry of Planning And Economic Development, Assistant Director Daniel B. Banya explained the rationale behind the consultation. He noted that the July 2024 HLPF coincided with the start of the new Medium Term National Development Plan (MTNDP 2024-2030), offering a platform to showcase achievements and identify gaps in the SDG implementation.

He noted the government’s commitment to the global agreements that 7 critical goals would be exclusively reported on alongside the others as he assured governments commitment to the process and urged participants to help the ministry with credible data to be factored into the report.