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Out of Africa

A leading light in African local government has spent the past two weeks learning new ideas from Warwickshire County Council and local partner organisations.

William Alpha, the dynamic Chief Administrator (CEO) of Bo City Council - Warwickshire County Council’s partner authority in Sierra Leone - visited the county to progress cooperation on planning, waste management, financial management and environmental health and water issues. During his visit William learned that he had been awarded the accolade of Civil Servant of the Year in Sierra Leone and national news channels broadcast a radio interview he conducted by telephone from Leamington.

The two week visit was arranged as part of the county council’s DFID funded Commonwealth Local Government Good Practice Scheme project which sees Warwickshire providing technical support to Bo and Makeni City Councils in Sierra Leone on waste management, environmental health, water, planning and GIS mapping in collaboration with local partners at Warwick District Council, Warwick One World Link (OWL) and local Rotary clubs.

William spent time with officers and volunteers from all the Warwickshire partners and made significant progress on a number of topics.

He confirmed that Warwickshire partners’ assistance is making a visible difference to street cleanliness in Bo and therefore to the council’s ability to get people to pay their rates. It is hoped that in time it will also reduce occurrence of diseases such as malaria.

Through work by the Warwickshire Observatory and former district council planners, and using data from a US- funded medical research project in Bo, the council now has access to up-to-date city maps for the first time since the civil war and is moving towards a more coordinated approach to land use and development planning.

William participated in a varied programme which included a welcome reception at Leamington Town Hall hosted by the Mayor, Cllr Robert Cunliffe and a tour of the county’s waste management sites.

“I have something to take home from every point of the programme,” said William, who added that the most useful aspect of the visit was “whatever works well back in Bo”.

A highlight was a visit to JCB World HQ in Staffordshire where William and his hosts met senior management and secured a commitment to ongoing training and after sales support for an excavator bought for Bo by the United Nations as part of the waste management project.

Bo is the second city of Sierra Leone with a population of 200,000. There has been a community link between Bo and Leamington and Warwick for almost 30 years and the county council and partners have a three year action plan to assist and collaborate with Bo City Council in areas such as planning, waste management, financial management and environmental health. A group of Warwickshire teachers travel to Bo this Friday with funding from the British Council to develop closer school links with their partner schools there.