By Ransford Lube-Metzger
Head woman for Banana Island Veronica Sackey Bah has said some people working in that part of the island, do not own-up to their corporate social responsibilities to ensure a more pluralistic approach to tourism on Banana Island; thereby leaving the island open to disasters and other problems.
She made this statement at a two day training session organized by the Ministry of Tourism and Culture on the topic: Climate Change Resilience Workshop: Capturing Women in Tourism Entrepreneurs in Coastal Risk Areas specifically in Banana Island and Kent’. She added that it saddens her to think that people come to the island, engage in business, make profit and then go away with it, leaving the island without performing the slightest corporate social responsibility. She sand in future the islanders will reject such people because they too want to develop as other people in other parts of the country develop.
The coastal areas of Sierra Leone are highly vulnerable to the increased frequency and severity of coastal erosion, flooding and storm surges which severely impact social well-being, livelihood, security, water resources; and major economic sectors such as fishing, tourism and agriculture.
The project is aimed at strengthening the ability of coastal communities to systematically manage climate change risk and impact on physical infrastructure and economic livelihoods.
The reason for training these women in coastal areas facing climate risk, according to the General Manager, National Tourist Board, Fatmata Kroma is to give women the opportunity for them to develop their skills on other alternative livelihoods. “They are engaged in this training in order for us to teach them how to use their skills to engage in a range of other alternatives to sustain their livelihoods,” Kroma said.
She added that after the training, the ministry would be doing a lot of follow-ups on the trainees to ensure they are making proper and effective use of what they were taught.
According to her, there is a package under the Ministry of Trade to support small scale businesses in the country. She added that the women that they trained had complained that although fishing is the main source of livelihood in that part of the country, they find it extremely difficult to catch fish during the Rainy Season.
Kroma went on to state that as a result, they admonished the women to engage themselves in the alternative skills they taught because they live in a touristic area and the items they make could easily be bought by tourists.
On her part, the Minister of Tourism and Culture, Dr. Memunatu Pratt stated that due to the challengers caused by climate change in many areas including coastal areas, women especially living in these parts need to learn skills which would boost their livelihoods. She said the areas visited have rich tourism potential but that the ministry needs to play a very pivotal role to ensure that the maximum benefit from all these areas could provide are made.
She reassured the participants that this first visit by the ministry is to train the women on alternative life survival skills, adding that the visit is also to look at what the areas needed in terms of increasing their touristic potentials so that maximum benefit could be derived by the locals.