Playhouse Foundation hosts Post-Ebola Roundtable : The implications for Kono District

The Playhouse Foundation hosts a Post-Ebola Recovery Roundtable: Implications for Kono District with funding from OSIWA, IRC, Metabiota and the First Lady of Sierra Leone.

The Playhouse Foundation in partnership with the Kono District Council, the Koidu-New Sembehun City Council and the Kono District Ebola Response Centre organized a ‘post-Ebola Recovery Roundtable: Implications of Kono District’ on Friday 28th August 2015 at the Sahr Musa Sese Gbenda Hall, City Council.

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The roundtable was funded by the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) under the auspices of a project being implemented by the Playhouse Foundation, the International Rescue Committee (IRC), Metabiota and H.E. Sia Nyama Koroma, First Lady of the Republic of Sierra Leone. The Lead Facilitators were Mrs Sia Hariett Turay, formerly Minister of State, Office of the Vice President and Founding Member of the 50/50 Group and Ms. Zainab Tunkara-Clarkson, Executive Director, OWNERS – the Chérie Blair Foundation for Women and Founding Member of Salone Business Women’s Hub.

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About 400 participants were drawn from chiefdom authorities led by paramount chiefs and chiefdom speakers, chiefdom participants, members of civil society, officials from ministries, departments and agencies at the district level, district and city councilors, ward committee chairpersons, Ebola survivors, the inter-religious council heads of male and female traditional secret societies, youth groups, women’s groups, tribal headsmen, the Traders’ Union, the Bike Riders’ Association, the Motor Drivers’ Union, Kono dignitaries in Kono District and outside the district, All Political Parties Association (APPA) and the media.

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The aim of the roundtable was to provide stakeholders from all walks of life in Kono District with a deeper understanding of the Government of Sierra Leone’s 6-9 month post-Ebola Recovery Plan and its implications for Kono District. More particularly it was designed to share vital information with the various stakeholders on all aspects of the post-Ebola Recovery Plan to enable to them to participate in the implementation process of the Plan at various levels and to garner community ownership of the Plan.

Opening statements were delivered by Paramount Chief C.G. Konobundor from Gorama Kono Chiefdom, His Worship Saa Emmerson Lamina, Mayor of Koidu-New Sembehun City and Madam Finda Koroma, Co-Founder of the Playhouse Foundation. Madam Finda Koroma commended H.E. President Ernest Bai Koroma for his untiring efforts in curbing the spread of the Ebola Virus Disease and for working earnestly with the international donor community to secure funding for the post-Ebola Recovery Plan which will implemented by the Presidential Delivery Unit under the auspices of the Office of the Chief of Staff to the President. Madam Finda Koroma also acknowledged the intensive social mobilisation activities that have been undertaken by H.E. Sia Nyama Koroma, First Lady of the Republic of Sierra Leone during the Ebola outbreak. She further outlined that with the support of international and national partners including the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, the First Lady had also donated impressive amounts of personal protective equipment all over the country during the Ebola outbreak.

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Two key presentations were firstly on ‘The Government of Sierra Leone’ Post-Ebola Recovery Plan’ that was presented by Dr. Felix Marco Conteh, Chief of Staff to the Chief of Staff, State House and secondly on‘Economic Recovery, Empowerment and Inclusive Growth’ that was presented Dr. Sheka Bangura, Director of Planning, Ministry of Finance and Economic Development. Each presentation was followed by very active question and answer sessions in which the participants openly raised pertinent questions, debated salient points and made very useful recommendations which the roundtable facilitators will incorporate into the final report of the roundtable. A panel discussion on ‘Community Participation’ featured Haja Isatu Kamara, Deputy Commissioner, the National Commission for Social Action (NaCSA), Ibrahim Bockarie from the Network for the Movement of Social Justice (NMJD), Ms. Martha Luis from the Kono Women’s Organizations’ Network (KOWONET) and Arthur Kargbo from the Action for Social Justice (ASJD). The panelists outlined their strategies for increasing the level of community participation in the formulation, implementation and evaluation of their various projects and described some challenges they encounter in the process. Comments from stakeholders pointed out weakness in community participation and the lack of sustainability of project infrastructure in communities due to lack of community involvement in the first place. Recommendations were made for strengthening community systems.

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The afternoon session was opened with a panel discussion from the sponsors. Professor Aiah Gbakima presented Metabiota’s proposed research work on the testing of blood samples from humans, animals and insects in Sierra Leone in order to predict chains of transmissions of unknown viruses to humans. He also articulated his company’s to support to the health sector during the Ebola outbreak by making available the first bio-medical lab which was finally transferred to Kenema General Hospital.

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Madam Finda Koroma outlined the milestones of the OSIWA funded project on ‘Support to Border Chiefdoms in the Design of an Efficient Response to Tackle the Ebola Virus Disease’. She announced the recent shipment of four 40ft containers of over 750,000 books for primary and secondary schools that Harvard Business School (HBS) Class of ’94 Section F, (her former section mates) and her, in partnership with Books for Africa and Samskip had funded. These books have been donated to the Playhouse Foundation under a Book Drive that commenced in December 2014 for distribution to schools and communities in Sierra Leone as the HBS contribution to Government of Sierra Leone’s post-Ebola Recovery Plan. The containers are expected to arrive in Sierra Leone at the end of October, 2015. The Playhouse Foundation with funding from Germany, will be supporting a concept known as ‘Energising Development’ under which the youth will be taught the installation of solar panels to be placed in Peripheral Health Units (PHUS) and primary or secondary schools. Finally, in partnership with Salone Business Women’s Hub, the Playhouse Foundation is developing the concept of establishing regional Business Solutions and Trade Facilitation Hubs to provide entrepreneurship support and trade facilitation services through advisory and training assistance as well as mentoring to women-owned and youth-owned businesses.

The International Rescue Committee outlined its water and sanitation services that have been installed in all PHUs within its operational areas during the Ebola Outbreak and stated its continued support to strengthen health care systems.

The ‘Wrap-up Session’ was chaired by Ambassador Sahr Johnny. Madam Finda Koroma and Ms. Zainab Tunkara-Clarkson acted as facilitators for this session. They summarized the comments made by the participants during the various sessions of the roundtable. The presenters outlined the pertinent issues relating to infrastructure, health and education, business solutions services for small to medium scale entrepreneurs, agriculture and agri-business, inclusive growth and social protection. A new concept known as the Transfer of Knowledge Through Kono Indigenes was also tabled.

The Closing Session was chaired by Ambassador Sahr Sundu which included Closing Remarks by Paramount Chief Fengai Korbendeh Kamachiende of Gbense Chiefdom and Ms. Hawa Musa, an Ebola Survivor.

The Playhouse Foundation is grateful to all its sponsors namely OSIWA, IRC, Metabiota and H.E. Sia Nyama Koroma, First Lady of the Republic of Sierra Leone. It also owes a debt of gratitude to Mr. Saidu Conton Sesay, Chief of Staff, Office of the President, Dr. Kaifala Marah, Minister of Finance and Economic Development and Mr. Alie Badara Mansaray, Commissioner, National Commission for Social Action for allowing their technical staff to make presentations at the roundtable which enriched the debates.

The Playhouse Foundation was established by Madam Finda Koroma and Mr. Abu Deedee Koroma in 2009 in memory of their parents, the Late Abu Aiah Koroma Esq. and the Late Danké E. Koroma.

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