Haddijatou Jallow, Executive Chair-Person, Environment Protection, Government of Sierra Leone speaks about the post-conflict effort in Sierra Leone to adapt to, and mitigate, the effects of climate change.
Jallow tells us that prior to 2008, a long history of extractive industries in the West African country prevented interest in environmental issues.
She says it was not until 2008 that the country made concrete attempts to address climate change. This included the launching of an environmental protection agency, and then in 2010, the President of Sierra Leone taking on the role as the national Minister of Environment himself.
Since then, Jallow explains, companies are being asked, for the first time in the country’s history, to carry out environmental impact assessments. She says that before 2008, there had only been two companies that had completed such procedures, but now, there are over 100 companies that have done so.
She says climate change has injected pressure on water reserves and forests which is affecting the populations living in rural and urban areas.
In addition, war has had a significant impact on the country’s efforts to address climate change. Jallow says because war reduces a country to “zero”, Sierra Leone has had the opportunity to build adaptive and mitigative measures into its infrastructure and lessen the impact of climate change.
She says political will has stimulated the progress of climate change efforts in the country. But it has taken a lot of outreach work and education to show people that conserving forests, for example, is important, even though, there are a huge amount of minerals under those reserves.