The Chairman Bo District Council said Environment was critical for the peaceful existence of people in Sierra Leone. Joseph Bindi made the statement during a one-day consultative forum in Bo organized by the Environment Protect Agency Sierra Leone EPASL with over 200 participants drawn from MDAs and other sectors within the East and Southern region including the local district councils, security forces, paramount chiefs, members of parliaments, Civil society and the media. He said the forum was aimed at giving opportunities to all sectors to adopt and enforce policies that would help to protect and maintain the environment noting Sierra has over the years experienced worst environmental degradation. He said the country was yarning towards development adding development will never come if relevant actions were not taken to maintain a friendly environment. The Paramount Chief Prince Boima Kakua chiefdom Bo said decentralization was crucial in addressing challenges of environmental issues. He expressed frustration over lack of distinction between those he referred to as criminals to environmental degradation and human rights issues including law enforcement on environmental issues. He said most often advocates mount social pressure on environmental law enforcement structures aimed at tracking down defaulters of environmental issues. He said there were already several laws on environmental protection noting compliance with the law was a major challenge. He called on all stake holders to adopt the character of self- regulation and discipline including promotion of issues on environmental protection for the benefit of all Sierra Leoneans. Delivering a key note address Momodu Alrashid Bah, Director Environment Protection Agency said the discussion would prioritize key environmental issues for effective collaboration among relevant stake holders in the environment sector in order to promote sound environmental governance and management in Sierra Leone. He disclosed Sierra Leone has been identified by experts as disaster prone as a result of what he called irrational behaviors and unsustainable practices in handling the environment and its natural resources. Mr. Bah added environmental problems were already costing and devastating the inhabitants of Sierra Leone
including damage to homes, businesses and crops, and increased social cost on Sierra Leoneans. He recalled the recent disasters in the country including mudslide, bush fire and flooding noting those awkward developments should remind Sierra Leoneans of their responsibilities to take concrete actions in addressing environmental challenges and ensure strong and resilient communities across the country. He expressed frustration that the country was currently facing several environmental challenges ranging from deforestation, wild bush fire, environmental pollution, and misuse of hazardous chemicals including mercury, improper waste management, irresponsible mining and timber logging among others. He added that if those challenges were not addressed the country‟s development gains would be hindered and undermined. He informed participants that EPASL has however developed environmental policies and regulations that would promote sound environmental management and quality control.