“UNDP believes that our contributions to the security and livelihoods of the Mano River Union (MRU) borderlands in Sierra Leone would enhance human security and promote safer trade in the communities,” says UNDP Deputy Resident Representative-Rokya Ye-Dieng.
The UNDP Deputy Resident Representative made this statement during a recent commissioning of a bore hole and the donations of 4 motorbikes, 2 printers, 1 set photocopier, 4 dell laptops, 10 cartoons of hand washing soap and 20 cartoons of hand sanitizer to Port Health and Immigration Officers for ground border operations at Jendema.
This is part of UNDP and MRU collaborative effort to address issues of women traders, youth empowerment in the Mano River Union ground border areas.
In her statement, the MRU secretary General-Ambassador Medina Wesseh, reflected on the necessity of the items donated, resulting from the systemic and procedural gap identified during the ground border simulation exercise in preparedness to the border re-opening.
The UNDP Deputy Resident Representative further reflected on the impact of Ebola and the Covid-19 pandemic, two health emergencies which resulted to the closure of the border while emphasizing the importance of working with the MRU 51 million population.
In response to the DRR statement, the Minister of Internal Affairs-David Maurice Panda-Noah expressed his gratitude for the donations that UNDP and MRU have given to the Immigration and the Port Health Officers stressing the importance of the items in the face of the pandemic. He appreciated UNDP and MRU for supporting women traders, whom he believed are the bedrock of the community.
Meanwhile, border stakeholders and women traders have expressed positive sentiments and thanked the UNDP Deputy Resident Representative for UNDP commitments in ensuring a safer border environment for youth and women traders.
“We the women of the cross-border communities extend our thanks and appreciation to UNDP Sierra Leone. With the closure of the border, our businesses were not flourishing anymore. Our engagement with UNDP and MRU has brought interventions that are changing our lives,” says Bintu Swarray- Secretary of Women’s of Mano River Organisation at Jendema.
In Sierra Leone, 65% of traders that are involved in cross-border trading along formal crossing points are women. When the Jendema/Bo Waterside Border was closed in 2020 after the index Covid-19 case in the region, trading fare increased exponentially. Women had to travel informal crossing points and risky routes like on canoes to trade and get their livelihood. Also, studies have shown that Covid-19 restrictions and regulations on border trade have degenerated women’s economic condition which increases economic hardship. Therefore, the statistical difference between men versus women border traders within the border communities, could infer that more women using the formal crossing points are exposed to unimaginable economic effect especially when trade activities are limited by border closure.
This initiative provides support to women and youth through UNDP’s core funds in response to Covid-19.