KOINADUGU RESIDENTS APPRECIATE THE DIASPORA HEALTH CARE PROGRAMME

By Alfred Fornah

Residents of Koinadugu District, especially those who benefited from the Japan funded project titled: ” Strengthening Sierra Leonean National Health Capacity through Diaspora Engagement” have on the 9th November 2017 applauded the project; noting that it has contributed immensely to improve access to health care services in the District.

They expressed gratitude to the Diaspora Medics for delivering exceptional free medical treatments including major and minor surgery to people who are in dire need of these services.
“I am happy that the Diaspora health care workers are here to offer us this gesture, because I wouldn’t have even attempted to come to the Hospital since I couldn’t afford to pay Medical bills “said Adama Sow, a beneficiary of the project. She also noted that the Diaspora free health care programme is necessary and is impacting the the lives of so many people in both Koinadugu and Falaba Districts.

Paramount chief Gbawuru Mansaray iii of Wara Wara Yagala Chiefdom in Koinadugu District expressed thanks and appreciation to the Japanese Government for providing funds for the project and the implementing Agency, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), and also it’s Partners like Office of Diaspora Affairs (ODA), Ministry of Health for choosing Koinadugu District to roll out a pilot phase of the project. “We really appreciate the effort of the Diaspora Medical Professionals. Many of our people know their health problems but can’t afford to pay for Medical services, therefore the intervention of these medics is really timely” he explained. He looked forward to the Diaspora Medical Experts for more help especially in the area of health care delivery in the District.
“When we started Work in Kabala Government Hospital, people came from the surrounding villages, and all over Koinadugu District to benefit from our free medical treatments. And within a short period, we carried out a lot of successful surgical procedures/treatments. Said Doctor Bangura, a diaspora Medical Doctor from US.

Doctor Charles Senessi, a Physician, WHO Consultant, an experienced Sierra Leonean Diaspora Medical Professional from Switzerland said they are in Sierra Leone not only to provide health care services but to transfer skills to the locals ; there by narrowing the knowledge gap. He added that they were happy to have contributed to the development of the health sector. “Our colleagues in the diaspora are willing to come and we will definitely reach out to them”.

Reacting, the Director of ODA Dr. Kallay Musa Conteh said the contribution of the Diaspora healthcare workers is a respond to the call of His Excellency the President, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma who is the brain child of the establishment of the Office of the Diaspora Affairs to harness the Diaspora towards national development. He said the contribution of the Sierra Leonean Diaspora community to the country’s development over the years cannot be overemphasized. ” Diaspora contributions range from remittances to skills transfer, and the work of the Diaspora health experts in Koinadugu District is a clear testament of how Diasporans are contributing to nation building ” Dr Conteh stated. He further expressed gratification for the successful partnership between his institution (ODA) with IOM and MOHS in the implementation of the MIDA Health Care Project. He appealed to other Sierra Leonean Experts in the diaspora to come home and give back to their country.

Meanwhile, the Diaspora Medical Doctors who were in the country recently for a short medical mission under the MIDA Health Care program have completed their assignment in providing free medical treatments in the areas of Mental Health, Dental, Internal Medicine, Gynecological and Pediatric cases for about one hundred and fifty patients (89 Surgical patients, 45 outpatients, 48 dental care.)

The Project Coordinator of the Diaspora Health Care Project, Akao Kunikazu assured the continued support of the Japanese Government to bring more Diaspora Medical Doctors to Koinadugu and Falaba Districts, adding that residents of these areas should take advantage of the opportunity.

5 DIASPORA MEDICAL DOCTORS ARRIVE TO DELIVER FREE MEDICAL SERVICES

By Alfred Fornah
The Director, Office of Diaspora Affairs(ODA) , Mr Kallay Musa Conteh has on Tuesday 31st of October 2017 received in audience five Diaspora Medical Doctors who are currently in country to provide free vital medical services to the people of Koinadugu District.

The Diaspora Medical Experts include Dr. Charles Senessi from Switzerland, Doctor Abdul Bangura from US, Doctor Kaifala Tarawalie and Doctor Abdul Karim Sillah both from UK and Josephine Garnan who has solid background in Mental Health and Project Management.

These doctors and Medical Experts are in the country to participate in the Migration for Development in Africa (MIDA) project. The project which is funded by the Japanese Government aimed at strengthening the Sierra Leonean health care system through the deployment of experienced Diaspora Health care workers to Sierra Leone.

Addressing the medics, the Director of ODA Mr Kallay Musa Conteh in a jubilant mood thanked them for honouring the call of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), ODA and MOHS to come and serve the country. He said that ODA was established with the motive to harness the Sierra Leone Diaspora towards national development. He out lined some of the contributions of the Sierra Leone Diaspora community; ranging from skills transfer to remittances. He recalled about a UNDP funded program in 2011 in which 25 Sierra Leonean Diasporans were recruited to strengthen the country’s public sector. He also promised to convey the arrival of the medics in the country to the oversight Ministry of ODA and by extension to State House through official correspondences.

The Project Manager, Migration for Development in Africa (MIDA) Akao Kunikazu said these Diaspora Doctors will be providing free health care services to the people of Kabala Town and it environs in a period of two weeks. “We are traveling to Koinadugu today 31st October with the medics and they will deliver quality specialized health care services to the people in that part of the country ” Akao said.

In his brief statement, Doctor Charles Senessi, a Sierra Leonean Medical expert from Switzerland said despite the fact that he is working for the Swiss Government but he love Sierra Leone and he is very passionate about the issue of skills transfer, adding that ” those were some of the reasons why he is here to give back to his home country”. He however commended the locals especially officials of MOHS, IOM and ODA and the Medical School for been receptive.

The other Diaspora Medical Professionals expressed commitment and willingness to give back to their country. They also promised to share their knowledge and their expertise with local health care workers at the assigned Hospital and community health centers in Koinadugu.

 

Bid to harness the Diaspora for National Development

In a bid to harness the Diaspora for National Development, the Minister of Political and Public Affairs, Hon. Nanette Thomas has on Thursday 11th August 2016 left the shores of Sierra Leone to engage members of the Sierra Leonean community in Holland.

A delegation from the National Social Security and Insurance Trust (NASSIT) consisting of Mr. Desmond Benya, Assistant Manager, Public Affairs and Mr. Ismeal Kandeh will also join the minister during this visit to the Netherlands.
The purpose of the Minister’s visit is to have a stakeholders meeting with members of the Diaspora Community in the Netherlands and also use the Sierra Leone Central Union annual outing as a platform to meet with Sierra Leonean residents and to motivate them to continue their unwavering support to the country’s development. This visit will provide also a platform for NASSIT to sell their services such as pension scheme, mortgage and savings for diaspora.

The trip furthermore will be used by the Hon. Minister to engage Sierra Leonean professionals in Holland to participate in the Connecting Diaspora for Development (CD4D project) also to encourage them to participate in the UMVA Platform that seeks to channel Diaspora remittances through the formal Banking system.
In recognition of the urgent need to mainstream the Sierra Leone Diaspora into national development process, the Minister during her visit will engage the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and Africa Diaspora Policy
Centre in the Hague; in relation to the development of a Diaspora policy for the country. The expected outcomes of this visit are:
1. A well informed target group on investment opportunities in Sierra Leone.
2. A better understanding of the products and services of NASSIT that are meant for the targeted groups.
3. Smart input into the development of the Diaspora policy.

Meanwhile, the development of a Diaspora Policy is a welcoming news not only for members of the Sierra Leonean Diaspora Community, but also for the entire country. Indeed, the relevance of the Diaspora in national development should not be underestimated. According to sources from the Central Bank of Sierra Leone, inward formal remittances from the Sierra Leone Diaspora stood at $52,721,279.17 in 2015, also they have recorded $32,438,044 for the first six months in 2016 .Remittance has an important impact on the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Furthermore, there exists enormous potential in skills, knowledge and expertise by the Sierra Leoneans abroad. This to a very large extent is an indication that the Diaspora has a huge and untapped potential to positively contributing to the growth of our economy.

Entrepreneurship Centers

CD4D PARTICIPANT TO SET UP CENTERS FOR ENTREPRENEURSHIP IN SIERRA LEONE
As the Office of Diaspora Affairs (ODA) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) continue to roll out activities of the connecting Diaspora for Development (CD4D) Programme (CD4D), Abubakarr Bangura who is one of the CD4D participants has on the 26th July 2017 presented a concept paper in order to set up different centers for entrepreneurship incubators for tertiary institutions in Sierra Leone including the Institute of Advanced Management and Technology (IAMTECH) and Milton Margai College Of Education Science and Technology (MMCET).

The event which took place at IAMTECH brought together representatives from the Professional Managers Association from Holland better known as PUM- Netherlands Senior Experts, lecturers of entrepreneurship and ICT, ST Foundation and Office of Diaspora Affairs.

In his presentation, Abubakarr Bangura said the entrepreneurship centers will run incubator programmes for start ups, adding that establishing an incubator at tertiary institutions in Sierra Leone was one of the recommendations that was made in the first CD4D entrepreneurship education workshop that was organised for lecturers on the 26th of March 2017.

He said entrepreneurship incubator is a unique platform to practicalise the entrepreneurial mind-set of students. “It will provide a unique opportunity for students to benefit from the talent and resources located in their institution, particularly in development of products that require higher level of technology and sophistication. It will also provide new opportunities for employments, creating entrepreneurial talent and leadership’’ Mr Bangura explained.

He informed that a delegation of four lecturers from different colleges will visit Holland in October or November this year. The visit he added is a study tour that will allow participants to learn about setting up sustainable centre for entrepreneurship in educational institutions.

Speaking on behalf of the PUM Netherlands Senior Experts, Jan Jongbloed said their organization is a non-profit organization, which has been advising businesses in developing countries and emerging markets.  PUM he said links these businesses to Dutch professionals who voluntarily devote their considerable experience to creating a better world. Mr Jongbloed further expressed his commitment to work with  Abubakarr Bangura and other partners like ST Foundation to help set up these incubators in the country .

CD4D is a demand-driven project for addressing capacity-building needs in selected priority institutions in countries of origin. The project enables diaspora professionals to use their expertise, skills and network for the development of their country of origin. For Sierra Leone, the focus is on capacity building of institutions in the Health, Education and Agriculture sector. The programme is funded by the Dutch Ministry of Development and International Trade.

© Alfred Fornah

Communications Officer

ODA

ODA Receives Experts

DIASPORA AFFAIRS RECEIVES SIERRA LEONEAN EXPERTS FROM HOLLAND

By Alfred Fornah

The Director and other staff of the Office of Diaspora Affairs (ODA), on Monday 13th February, 2017 hosted a delegation of three including two Sierra Leonean experts from Holland at their head office at 8 Wesley Street, Freetown.

The delegation was led by Mr. Mange Sesay, IOM’s Project Coordinator for the Connecting Diaspora for Development Project (CD4D). The diaspora experts are in country in order to participate in the ongoing CD4D Project. The two Professionals are Dr. Robert Chakanda, assigned to Fourah bay College to provide expertise on Geographic Information System (GIS), and Mr. Umaru Bah is assigned to take up task as an ICT Expert at the Milton Margai College of Education and Technology (MMCET)

The CD4D programme which is operated by the International Organization for Migration Netherlands (IOM) is a continuation of the Temporary Return of Qualified Nationals (TRQN) project; the programme links diaspora members with Dutch residency to institutions in their countries of origin. This will be done via physical and online assignments with organizations and institutions in Sierra Leone, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Ghana, Morocco, and Somalia. The CD4D project aims to exchange knowledge, skills of migrants for the reconstruction and development of their country of origin. CD4D is demand driven, based on priorities and development strategies of the countries of origin of diaspora experts.

In Sierra Leone, three priority areas including Health, Agriculture and Education have been identified by IOM and the Office of Diaspora Affairs to be provided with capacity by Sierra Leonean professionals residing in the Netherlands.

According to Mr. Mange Sesay, the most important element of the programme is to see that experts come from Holland and provide supports to the identified institutions in the country.

“We deem it necessary to introduce the first two participants to ODA because its the main government institution that is coordinating diaspora activities in Sierra Leone, and one cannot do anything about diaspora without their inclusion; in fact they have been playing an important role in this entire CD4D project.”  Mr. Sesay said.

In his statement, the Director, Office of Diaspora Affairs, Mr. Kallay Musa Conteh explained ODA’s Mandate to the two CD4D participants and recounted progress made by the office over the years. He also informed them that his institution is carrying out a talent database survey of Sierra Leonean Diasporans. He went further to state that they have established desk offices in the various entry points of the country, adding that they have officials attached to these desk offices charge with the responsibility to collect data; seeking relevant information especially for those diasporans who have plans to come home, contribute their skills and resources to national development.  ‘’We requested for Sierra Leone to be included on the CD4D project through a letter of recommendation from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Sierra Leone to the Dutch Foreign Ministry. The programme is really recognized by government of Sierra Leone because when IOM CD4D Consultant, Zia Gulam came from Holland, he paid  a courtesy call on the Ministry of Political and Public Affairs and the Hon. Vice President, Victor Bocarie Foh.’’ Mr. Conteh explained. He advised the two participants to be patriotic and offer their best to the country.  He promised that they will ensure the programme is monitored.

 

Mr Umaru Bah assured that he will perform his assignment diligently; and will ensure to leave a legacy and transform ICT education at the MMCET. Also Dr. Robert Chakanda promised to give his best to FBC.

Diaspora Investments Mapping

OFFICE OF DIASPORA AFFAIRS CONCLUDES FIRST DIASPORA INVESTMENTS MAPPING

By Alfred Fornah

The Private Sector Unit of the Office of Diaspora Affairs (ODA) has recently completed a two week diaspora investment mapping exercise.

The exercise was conducted in the Western area and some part of the North including Makeni and Mile Ninety One. This is the first ever diaspora investment mapping exercise that has been conducted in Sierra Leone.

The mapping exercise aimed at identifying and profiling diaspora businesses; also seeking to provide valuable insights into the nature and impacts of diaspora investment in country.

According to the Director, Office of Diaspora Affairs, Mr. Kallay Musa Conteh the diaspora business mapping is just among a number of programmes they are planning to roll out in 2017.

‘’The ODA has led it approach to harness the Sierra Leonean Diaspora community towards the development of the country. Our institution has been playing a key role in promoting friendly investment environment; thereby serving as a one stop shop resource center for the Diaspora Community. And the diaspora investment mapping we have conducted proved that the Sierra Leonean Diaspora Community is indeed playing an important role in contributing to the rapid development of the country through by creating Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and large scale investments.’’ ODA’s Director explained. He promised that the diaspora investment mapping exercise will be carried out also in other part of the country.

The Private Sector Manager of ODA, Mr. Joseph Lansana said that the idea of conducting a Diaspora Mapping exercise is to look at the strategic direction and challenges faced by diaspora businesses with a view of ODA building a business case for them and see how government can intervene. “As an institution, we believe that private sector goes a long way to complement the effort of government, it is consistent with the theme of the 2017 budget that is anchored around recovery and in line with the Agenda for Prosperity,’’ Mr. Lansana said. He furthered that, ODA want to quantify the impact created by diaspora businesses, so that they will motivate others sitting on the fence to do the same. He added that as an institution they believe the diaspora community has got a significant role to play, and part of their role is the stimulation of the much needed SMEs that will serve as the engine to the economic growth of the country, and also reduce the rate of unemployment.

Meanwhile, there is really an increase in diaspora led investment in Sierra Leone; ranging from small scale to bigger investments. Diasporans are investing in different sectors including health, road construction, medical, agriculture, education etc. There are number of outstanding diaspora investments that are creating jobs and contributing immensely to the development of the country. Some of these investments include: FINIC, GENTO Construction, Moving Roads Sierra Leone, Hill Valley, Garden State in Makeni, Bintex Inc, Canadian College at Mile Ninety One, Student Entrepreneurship Programme (SEP), SLCU Agric Business Institute,  Dorothy Springer Trust, Seeds For Growth Foundation, SierraArker among others.