To round off activities marking this year’s 78th Anniversary of the United Nations, members of the UN family in Sierra Leone were engaged last Friday morning in a cleaning exercise of a long stretch of Lumley Beach in Freetown. The UN Resident Coordinator (RC), Babatunde Ahonsi, at the exercise, warned Sierra Leoneans to take care of their natural surroundings.
Speaking to the media during the cleaning exercise, he said Sierra Leoneans should inculcate the habit of maintaining proper hygiene by embarking on regular cleaning exercises both at home and in their communities. The RC said the exercise was a productive way beyond symbolism to highlight actions to ensure that Sierra Leone develops climate resilience and that the country can take advantage of natural resources to advance national development priorities, with climate action as a priority.
“If you want to be climate responsible, it is something you should do every day or else, nature will counter-punch us, and when it counter-punches, we will not be able to withstand,” he emphasized. In Sierra Leone and the rest of the world, the RC also said we have seen an increasing frequency and severity of extreme weather events. This, according to him, is because nature has been abused over decades and centuries. “We should stop this habit of use and throw,” Mr. Ahonsi stressed.
WHO’s Country Representative, Dr. Innocent Nuwagira, said “I would like to encourage the young, the old, men and women to engage in cleaning the environment. Let us keep the beaches, the city, our homes, and our surroundings clean, and by that, we are making sure that the health of our people is our direct responsibility.”
UNDP Resident Representative, Frederick Ampiah, told the media that the cleanliness of the beaches is a major step to putting the country’s ecotourism sector in the spotlight. “Sierra Leone is one of the few countries with the most scenic views on the West Coast of Africa. At UNDP, part of our support to the government and the people of Sierra Leone is to help them position this in ecotourism, and a key dimension of this is our beaches,” he disclosed.
Setcheme Mongbo, who heads the UN Women’s Office in Sierra Leone, said that the cleaning exercise was an important wake-up call to how society can succeed in several aspects, including domestic and communal hygiene. “Seeing men and women together doing the free cleaning of the environment is especially important”.
The close to four hundred participants in the cleaning exercise that started from the Atlantic area, opposite the Freetown Golf Club to the Atlantic Hotel, were drawn from the various UN agencies, funds, and programmes in Sierra Leone.