Conciliation Resources on Wednesday 23rd January 2013 brought about 42 participants from the three countries of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea at the J&E Resort in Bo, to “listen to success stories about how local people are increasingly making their voices heard in matters that affect their communities.”
Sierra Leone had 20 representatives, while Liberia had 12 and Guinea 6 representatives. All of the 42 participants came from the District Platform Dialogues (DPDs), a network of local organizations across the Mano River Union-MRU.
The group also discussed the “challenges and how partner organizations from Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone can continue to work together across borders to help improve everyday life and future prospects and deal peacefully with problems.”
Mr Ibrahim Sillah, Director West Africa Centre for Capacity Development (WACCD) told Awoko that the participants were in the hall to share “our stories in working with border communities” in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.
The participants he said were drawn from the regions around the Mano River; Kailahun, Pujehun and Kambia districts in Sierra Leone; Forie Kariah in Guinea and Lofa and Cape Mount Counties in Liberia. The day to day capacities of community based organizations and NGOs through networks/district platform for dialogue to sustain peace and demand accountability in these border communities.” The group he said was also mainly at the place to “highlight the common problems or challenges in the border communities.” One of the problems and challenges facing the border communities he said was “travelling documents during border crossing.”
Added to that he said “access to communities in the border areas is always a problem; communication is a problem; access to information is a problem; the border security lacks access to information.”
In terms of basic amenities, the communities he stated “lack everything.” And what he opined was needed in the regions for now was basic amenities. “What the people need now is basic needs like medical facility, support to schools” amongst other things.
He later went on to add that in fact, “the people are completely cut-off from the big towns and there is no electricity, safe drinking water…”
Abdulai Fofanah, a representative from Guinea told Awoko that the main problem that “the people of Guinea are facing across the border is language barrier.” The Military across the border he went on to state most times “harass the people but the military is always under instruction from the government.”
Harrold Aidoo a Liberian Representative from the Institute for Research and Democratic Development explained that the regions around the border particularly have miserable roads. “They are not motorable.” This he said was coupled with health centres in the area being far away “Women and children are most times put in wheel barrows.”
By Jenkins Bawoh