Making her statement at the first national conference on women to commemorate International Women’s day, Minister of Marine Resources and Fisheries Haja Afsatu Kabba has said that, water, sanitation and electricity are important for the achievements of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Speaking on the theme of the conference, “Women, Water, Sanitation and Electricity: Meeting the Millennium challenge”, Haja Afsatu Kabba said that there are great links between electricity, water services and the MDGs, adding that women should play an active role in producing these services and make their (women) voice loud and clear as “we are great users of these services.”
She told the gathering at the British Council in Freetown that, women should be fully involved in public decision making with regards to these services.
Currently, she said the available services are not sufficient to meet the needs of the poor, this situation entrenches poverty, constrains the delivery of social services, limits opportunities for women, and erodes environmental sustainability at the local, national and global levels.
Resolution 1325 of 2000 holds out a promise to women across the globe that their rights will be protected and that barriers to their equal participation and full involvement in the maintenance and promotion of sustainable peace will be removed, said Afsatu Kabba.
The Minister stated that electricity supply was a top priority and a state of energy emergency was declared by President Koroma on the 5th October 2007 whilst addressing Parliament.
“With President Koroma‘s vision in mind we were able to meet the president’s target and improved electricity supply from 5 mega watts to 25 mega watts and improved on the water and sanitation.”
“I made use of the opportunity empowered on me on a political position to solve a national crisis, a technical and socio economic problem, Yes I did it,” she said.
She further explained that she advocated for the appointment of women to head the parastatals of the utility agencies under the ministry.
In her statement, chairperson of the National Power Authority (NPA) Maude Peacock highlighted some of the ventures they have undertaken which have improved the sector.
Dr Nana Pratt Chairperson of Guma Valley Water Company (GVWC) said that despite the abundant resources the provision of water is still a burning issue.
She added that GVWC is working on a number of projects supported by DFID and other agencies to expand and improve the water supply.
SALWACO Chairperson Shirley Rogers Wright stated that her institution is planning to improve the water supply in the provinces.
Reading the keynote address on behalf of President Koroma, Afsatu Kabba noted “with satisfaction that the advocacy effort by women to contribute to National development by linking the reduction of maternal mortality and the need for women to have adequate access to basic services such as water, sanitation and electricity cannot be over emphasized.”
These basic needs she said are the stepping stone towards meeting the Millenium Development Challenge.
She stated that government is committed to support women and empower them to meet this challenge.
She pointed out that on 5th October 2007, President Koroma promised the people of this nation to improve the delivery of electricity supply- particularly to the city of Freetown and the district headquarter towns.
That pronouncement was followed by an energy emergency program with the appointment of a woman to head the ministry charged with the responsibility to deliver my promises, she read.
Mayor of Freetown, Herbert Williams, President of Women’s Forum Rosaline Macarthy, and also representatives from the three political parties also made meaningful statements at the conference.
A lead paper on the conference was presented by Dr Lancelot Lake Technical Adviser, Presidential Energy Initiative.
At the close of the two day conference organized by the Presidential Energy initiative, recommendations were made from different groups working on from four topics: Linking women with water, sanitation and electricity, Women’s impact in the Human development index, Women, Water, Sanitation and Electricity meeting the MDGs and Private sector partnership involvement :Women, Water and Sanitation.
By Abibatu Kamara