Islands are one of the precious gems of a nation, which ecosystem and biodiversity habitations need to be conserved and protected against the growing risk of climate change, environmental disaster and harsh human conditions. It is evident that the islands located along the coastal areas of the Ramsar sites of the Sierra Leone estuary (Rokel and Bangasoka Rivers), Atlantic Ocean, Scarcise Rivers and south-eastern region are acutely vulnerable to ecological, environmental, social and economic threats, for which proactive remedial and innovative actions and solutions need to be provided or sought.
An island affair is every body’s interest; it involves not only the government through its MDAs but also the community, public, private, corporate institutions and international development agencies.
Island Mangrove Vegetations
Background-IslandAid and Counterpart (Planning Green Futures Charitable Trust)
IslandAid Sierra Leone is a community based organisation that promotes island Conservation Biodiversity, Sustainable Livelihood and Tourism Development. It is collaborating with MDAs, NGOs, Island Communities and Planning Green Futures Charitable/Baobab Trust, UK.
Planning Green Futures designed and formulated the concept of the Tasso Island Ecotourism Project; funded by Baobab Trust and promoted by IslandAid Sierra Leone.
Tasso Island is a unique environment that is strategically located, at close proximity to Bunce Island; and with historic value and importance as far back as the colonial day of the slave trade, used to be a transit depot for slaves ready to be conveyed to Europe, America and Caribbean. It endowed with the richness of nature and habitable ecosystems of receptive hospitality.
Problem Scenario and Island Resilience
The problems of the islands include environmental management and biodiversity protection, agriculture and food security, land use and planning, marine and coastal management, protective fishing, preservation of historic and colonial heritages, tourism development and sustainable livelihood.
Island cultural display
The other issues that need to be addressed include ecotourism development, marine and coastal resources and environmental management. This will lead to an integrated strategic action that will enhance the effective management, coordination and collaboration on island issues in line with resolution and policy objectives of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Island Development.
Island vulnerability of sea level rise
Islands are the bell-weathers for international environmental policies, which effective ecosystem management can enhance and facilitate the development of the tourism industry, specifically in the area of ecotourism development but which are neglected, abandoned, deprived and isolated and left at the mercy of environmental, social, ecological and economic vulnerability.
Thus, sustainable island resilience has been driver for tourism development, which natural richness in biodiversity and cultural diversity can impact the growth potential of the tourism industry; but are devoid of the functional infrastructure development and protected or conducive environments to showcase their touristic potentials and natural endowment; this is compounded by its environmental threat and shocks occasioned by deforestation, pollution, degradation and depletion, harvesting of the mangrove vegetations, overfishing, farming, and extinction of species.
Island Mirror and environmental challenges; and the islands in the country
Island Mirror is a newsletter, a vanguard that escalates the problems fraught by the islands, in the focus areas of vulnerability (environmental, ecological, social and economic), Livelihood and sustainability (Agriculture, youth skills training and empowerment, leadership and entrepreneurship), strategic land use and planning, infrastructure development and ecotourism development.
Thus, a wide discourse and publicity of the perennial problems of the islands will attract attention of intervention that can lead to remedial action and solutions
United Nations Conventions and Protocol on Sustainable Island Development
Regarding the global challenges faced by islands in line with the implementation strategies of UN Agenda 21 on sustainable development, it is but prudent to pilot, escalate and promote the initiative of island resilience in line with UN resolutions/protocols of the Barbados Programme of Action (1994), Mauritius Strategy Initiative (2005), Samoa pathway (2014) and the Blue Growth Initiative (2013).
A view of ecological richness in the island
Island Governance and Social and Economic Benefits
To effectively address the perennial problems of the islands in the country, which are multi-dimensional that cut across sectorally, there is therefore the need to have community engagements, corporate coalitions, and political leaders to discuss issues on sustainable island development; to provide remedial solutions to the problems fraught by the islands.
Local boats to transport tourist from one destination sites to another
The effective and efficient management of the islands will attract immense social and economic benefits to the island communities and the economy.
- It will create employment opportunities, thus reduce the rate of unemployment and impact on the labour market;
- It will influence investment opportunities and infrastructure development, especially in the area of improved transportation, land use planning and sea safety systems.
- It will also have effect on tourism development, especially ecotourism and cultural tourism, which will also have a related effect on revenue generation.
- Other benefits will be realized on the expanse of windows of investment opportunities.
Island Small scale Subsistence agriculture development
- Also, there will be improvement in the environmental health and ecosystem biodiversity protection.
- Also, regulations on housing and land planning will be enforced to ensure environmental safety.
Island Biodiversity Day Celebration
Islands have unique features of the richness of nature, as the treasure for biodiversity; as the bell weather for international environmental policies.
This global event, Island Biodiversity Day is celebrated annually worldwide on 22ndMay; geared to escalate the extent of Vulnerability Island communities are fraught with; and to see how best innovative actions and solutions can be made, to make islands as resilient and safe havens for sustainable developments; and as drivers for sustainable tourism development. In 2014, at the UN General Assembly Session in Samoa, this day 22nd May was dedicated to Islands, which ecosystem and biodiversity habitations are under threat, resulted to loss and extinction of environmental assets; viz, mangroves vegetations, coral reefs and tropical rain forest
The sustainable development of the islands is a global phenomenon that has attracted wider attention and then necessitated proactive and innovative solutions to make islands as resilient havens for ecotourism development, environmental management and biodiversity protection. This can only be done by effective collaborative partnership with firm commitment of political will; also with a broad alliance of people, MDAs, NGOs, international development partners, civil society and the private sector; all working together to achieve a common goal of island sustainable development. This is done in compliance with the provisions of the international conventions, agreements and protocols on environment and sustainable Island Development viz, Rio declaration on Environment and Development, United Nations Environment Programme, the Kyoto Protocol, Vienna Convention on the Protection of the Ozone Layer, Convention of Biodiversity.
In line with the drive towards the sustainable development of the Islands in the country, our organisation, IslandAid Sierra Leone in collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs held a three day island development conference on 2nd-4th September 2015, to address the perennial problems affecting the sustainable development of the islands in the country
Thus, the consultative policy dialogue in question, is as a result of the outcome of the Island development conference in 2015, which left certain strategic issues pending, a policy action gap. And this year’s conference is therefore geared to have proactive, innovation actions and solutions for the sustainable development of the islands in the country. The keys focus areas of intervention are: environment, social, economic, livelihood, sustainability, development gap or disparity/balanced development, tourism development and land use planning.
To grace the occasion, the key stakeholders/MDAs will do concept presentation on specific areas on intervention, which input will be used to develop a strategic policy framework. It will also attract the island communities, corporate entities, NGOs, and others.
Business Coalition Support
This is one of the sources to support the islands’ sustainable development. It can be by corporate business coalition, which comprises key corporate business entities; it includes financial institutions, parastatals, multinational corporations and others.
Island ecotourism development
In line with the strategic policy objectives of Pillar- one of the Agenda for Prosperity, which focuses on sustainable ecotourism development in the tourism industry, IslandAid Sierra Leone and Planning Green Futures Charitable Trust, UK with support from Baobab Trust, UK have embarked or engaged on Island ecotourism development project on Tasso Island, which in the long run would be extended to the other islands ( Bonthe, Tiwai, Turtle, Plantain and the Ramsar Sites), as the drivers for sustainable tourism development.
One of the chalets on the Tasso Ecotourism camp
Aichi Biodiversity Targets and Sustainable Tourism Development
In promoting sustainable environmental management and biodiversity protection in line with the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020, the keys issues of (Aichi Biodiversity Targets), will be escalated to promote sustainable tourism development. These are:
- To address the underlying causes of biodiversity loss by mainstreaming biodiversity across island communities/territories and states
- To reduce the direct pressures on biodiversity and promote sustainable use
- To improve the status of biodiversity by safeguarding ecosystems, species and genetic diversity
- Enhance the benefits to all from biodiversity and ecosystem services
- To enhance implementation through participatory planning, knowledge management and capacity building
Annual Activity Plan and Schedule of Events
The challenges inherent in finding solutions to the problems of islands are herculean. Therefore, systematic community engagements and sensitisations and policy dialogues with political leaders and key community stakeholders have to be regularly done to creating positive impact in attaining island resilience and healthy environment to stimulate tourism investment expanse.
The annual activities embarked by our organisation are:
- Community engagement on environmental management
- Stakeholders’ policy dialogue on environmental health and biodiversity protection
- Wetland and wildlife conservation and coastal island management-Ramsar sites
- Islands Biodiversity Day and Environmental Day Celebrations
- Island Development Conference
- Island Ecotourism Development
- Island Community Infrastructure Development
- Island Agriculture and Microfranchaise Development
- Island Mix and cultural fiesta
Management Structure and Team
The management team of IslandAid Sierra Leone that supports the Newsletter, Island Mirror, has dedicated, honest and result oriented persons with proven academic and professional acumen that can create positive change to transforming the lives of the island communities. It is made up of eight senior management and five community support staff:
|1||Dura Koroma||Executive Director|
|2||Patricia Ankra Musa||Island Development Officer|
|3||Fatmata Gbla||Overseas Coordinating Officer, Canada|
|4||Mohamed Sheriff Tonkora||Admin/Finance Officer|
|5||Julius Robinson||Environmental and Biodiversity Officer|
|6||Hawa Koroma||Project and Development Officer|
|7||Amiru Daboh||Planning and Environmental Consultant|
|8||Mohamed Margai Taylor||Culture and Tourism Officer|
|9||Island Community Support (5)||Island Liaison Officers|
The management of IslandAid Sierra Leone is result oriented; with the determination to creating impact in transforming the lives of the island communities. This is happening with catalysed commitments and effective participation.
As it is, our organisation is financially handicapped; not having support from either the government through its line MDAs or NGOs or Donor and developments agencies. It sole sources of income realised to finance its activity outlays is from the consultancy and professional services rendered to the public and private institutions on institutional capacity and system development; corporate governance development; and financial and tax policy management.
In view of the above, we are therefore seeking the support of donor, development partners and corporate institutions so that the challenges of the islands can be exhaustively addressed, to have proactive and innovative solutions.