Sierra Leone | Unseen Heroes

Fatu Turay, a World Bank in Sierra Leone team assistant, smiles as she gestures (center) in reaction to an instructor in a seminar conducted during her developmental assignment at the World Bank in Washington, DC

Lack of governance among West African fisheries is increasing the loss of the marine resources they cherish, wrote Ahmed Diamé in  New York Times' “Room for Debate” last March. Diamé is a Greenpeace Africa oceans campaigner based in Senegal. According to the Times, he works to expose the issues and reform the Common Fisheries Policy, which defines how European vessels operate in fisheries throughout the world, including those in West Africa.

Just as vital to preserving marine life and livelihoods for west African fishermen is the work of World Bank Office in Sierra Leone Team Assistant Fatu Turay.  As team assistant, Fatu supports team leaders in active projects funded by the World Bank in Sierra Leone.

 "These include, education, infrastructure, health, and Bumbuna [hydroelectric project] to name a few," she said. The West Africa Regional Fisheries Program in Sierra Leone is also one of the many she supports.

 "I'm on developmental assignment in Washington D.C.," she said, but I work on the fisheries program with task team leader, John Virdin."

Last week, workers from Sierra Leone's eight coastal district councils were in Freetown for a workshop on canoe registration. The 5-day training at the West Africa Regional Fisheries Program in Sierra Leone was organized by the nation's Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources, with support from the World Bank-funded regional fisheries program in Sierra Leone.

Licensing canoes used to be handled centrally by the ministry, but funding from the World Bank to help reform fisheries management, backed by local government legislation, will ensure a canoe registration database will be managed by local staff in coastal district councils such as Port Loko, Kambia, Moyamba, Pujehun,  and Bonthe.

The West Africa Regional Fisheries Program-SL aims to train council staff in database installation, data logging and retrieval of canoe records. Fisheries assistants, working with local councils and monitoring and evaluation officers and evaluators from all coastal district councils will give participants  opportunity to grasp basic management principles for the artisan fisheries sector including the system of co-management for Marine Protected Areas.

The objective of the West Africa Regional Fisheries Program Project for Africa is to strengthen the capacity of Cape Verde, Liberia, Senegal, and Sierra Leone to govern and manage targeted fisheries, reduce illegal fishing, and increase local value added to fish products.

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