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The UNFPA Representative in Sierra Leone has said that the population factor in the country continues to act as an impediment to its strides towards economic growth and poverty eradication.

Dr Kim Dickson made this observation at the validation meeting on the Revised National Population Policy document for Development, Progress and Welfare in Sierra Leone held at the Conference Room of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development (MoFED), Freetown, on Wednesday 29 June 2016.

She observed that rapid population growth exerts so much pressure on the provision of social services such as education and health care, and undermines efforts to preserve the environment, adapt to the consequences of climate change, and uplift the wellbeing of citizens.

‘The SDGs are now with us as a global framework to address the diverse needs of all segments of the population in our countries. As UNFPA, while we recognize that population growth is inevitable, we equally believe that the growth and size of the population can be managed to ensure a high quality of life for the majority of the people’, she said.

According to her, that is why UNFPA believes investments in family planning, quality education, sexual and reproductive health are crucial, particularly for our youth who constitute about 60% of the population.

'It is only through such investments that the country stands to reap the benefits of the “Demographic Dividend” that the whole world is yearning to achieve in the medium to long term’.

It is expected that the revised population policy document and its implementation plan will address the population challenges and capitalize on opportunities for economic growth and prosperity as outlined in the Government’s development Agenda for Prosperity as and post-Ebola recovery plan, if fully implemented.

She called on all stakeholders to will work collaboratively together to implement this policy in order to create a brighter future for Sierra Leone.

In conclusion, Dr Dickson reaffirmed UNFPA’s continued support and commitment to work with Government and other stakeholders towards the successful finalization and implementation of the Policy, once adopted.

In his statement, the Development Secretary, MoFED mentioned that the revised policy document provides the country with the opportunity and framework for development planning and management, including the formulation of strategies for the implementation of action plans and programmes by Ministries, Departments and Agencies, civil societies and the international community.

He was particularly grateful for UNFPA's support to the process, without which, it would have been difficult to produce the revised document.  

Stakeholders at the meeting included representatives from Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies, Parliamentarians, Political parties, civil society organisations and the international community, including UN Agencies.

The drafting of this policy document, including its implementation plan was led by the Population Unit at MoFED (National Population Secretariat) in partnership with UNFPA Sierra Leone, and involved people from across sectors of society.

It is hoped by stakeholders that the action plan, if implemented fully, will serve as the firm foundation on which the country’s development efforts will be anchored.