Minister of State for Overseas Development Peter Power announces deeper engagement in Sierra Leone
Minister of State for Overseas Development, Peter Power, T.D., today announced deeper cooperation with Sierra Leone and additional funding to reduce the number of mothers and children dying prematurely.
The funding will support emergency healthcare for pregnant women and fund feeding centres where chronically-malnourished children receive urgent treatment. It will also help small-scale rice producers to improve their productivity, reducing the country’s dependence on imported food.
Speaking at the Sierra Leone Conference in London today (Thursday), where he met Sierra Leone’s President Ernest Bai Koroma, Minister Power said:
“Sierra Leone has the highest rates of maternal and infant mortality in the entire world. More than one-in-four of Sierra Leone’s children die before their fifth birthday, while pregnant women have a one-in-eight chance of dying during pregnancy.
“Chronic malnutrition and the lack of emergency healthcare for pregnant women are the major contributory factors to these shocking statistics. The Irish Government, working in partnership with the Government of Sierra Leone, is committed to reversing this terrible toll and I am very encouraged to note that our efforts are already effecting real improvements in the lives of Sierra Leone’s people.
“Malnutrition is a contributory factor in more than half of child deaths in Sierra Leone. This year, Irish Aid funded the therapeutic food required to rehabilitate almost 20,000 children. While that is a real achievement, we know we are only reaching half of those who urgently need treatment. We are determined to reach many more and the funding I am announcing today will help us to do that,” Minister Power said.
The funding of €10 million will be disbursed through Irish Aid’s development programme in Sierra Leone to agencies including Christian Aid, Concern, Goal and Trócaire and through missionary organisations. Funding will also be channelled through the United Nations to support the operation of feeding centres and improved rice production.
Minister Power praised the Sierra Leone Government for its recent announcement of free healthcare to pregnant women, lactating mothers and children under five.
“Ireland has been represented officially in Sierra Leone since 2005. We see enormous potential in the country, which is gifted in its natural and human resources. We see in Sierra Leone a potential success story, of post-conflict recovery, transition, democracy-building and ultimately development and Ireland wants to be part of that story,” Minister Power said.
Notes for the editor
Irish Aid is the Government’s programme for overseas development. It is a division of the Department of Foreign Affairs
Sierra Leone in West Africa is one of the poorest countries in the world. More than 60% of Sierra Leone’s population still live below the $1 a day poverty line. The country is ranked 180 out of 182 countries listed on the United Nation’s 2008 Human Development Index.
Sierra Leone’s 11-year civil war ended in 2002. The current government, under His Excellency President Ernest Bai Koroma, took office in a peaceful transfer of power following elections in August 2007.
Ireland established a Development Cooperation Office in Freetown in 2005, covering Sierra Leone and Liberia.
19th November 2009