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Crops That Are Fighting PovertyAcross the world, agriculture remains one of the primary sources of income for those living in poverty. A 2019 report by The World Bank reported that 80% of those living in extreme poverty reside in rural regions, and a large majority of these individuals rely upon agriculture for their livelihood. The World Bank also notes that developing agriculture is one of the most effective ways to alleviate poverty, reduce food insecurity and enhance the general well-being of those living in a community. Potatoes in China, cassava in sub-Saharan Africa, rice in Sierra Leone, pearl millet in India and bananas in Costa Rica are five examples of crops that are fighting poverty.

5 Crops That Are Fighting Poverty

  1. Potatoes in China: In 2019, China was the world’s number one potato-producing country. With a rural population of 45.23%, the nation greatly relies upon agriculture to provide food as well as income to its citizens. In Ulanqub, otherwise known as the “potato city” of China, potato farming is one of the primary means for farmers to rise out of poverty. Due to the fact that viruses have the potential to destroy up to 80% of potato crops, potato engineers in Ulanqub have developed seeds that are more impervious to viruses. These engineers place a sterile potato stem into a solution filled with nutrients to create “virus-free breeder seeds.” The seeds are then planted and produce potatoes of higher quality, ensuring that farmers are able to generate sufficient income and climb out of poverty.
  2. Cassava in sub-Saharan Africa: Cassava is a principal source of calories for 40% of Africans. This crop has traditionally been important during times of famine and low rainfall because it is drought-resistant, requires easily-accessible tools and is easily harvestable by one family. The organization NextGen utilizes genomic technology to isolate beneficial cassava traits that increase plant viability, root quality and yield quantity. By analyzing crop DNA and statistically predicting performance, NextGen is creating cassava crops that are fighting poverty.
  3. Rice in Sierra Leone: Agriculture accounts for 57% of Sierra Leone’s GDP, with rice reigning as the primary staple crop. However, in 2011, the nation was a net rice importer due to struggles with planting efficiency. The System of Rice Intensification (SRI) was developed to increase rice crop yield and decrease the labor necessary for upkeep. This method requires the use of organic fertilizers, tighter regulations for watering quantities, greater spacing between seeds to decrease plant competition and rotary hoes for weeding. As of 2014, 10,865 individuals had implemented this strategy in Sierra Leone. SRI has enabled rice to become one of the crops that is fighting poverty by increasing crop production from two to six tons per hectare.
  4. Pearl Millet in India: In India, agriculture employs 59% of the nation’s workforce, with 82% of farmers operating small farms that are highly susceptible to the negative impacts of climate change. As temperatures rise to a scorching 114℉, crops that are able to survive extreme heat are becoming necessary. Wild pearl millet, a relative of domestic pearl millet, is one crop that can withstand such temperatures. Researchers in India are breeding wild pearl millet seeds with domestic pearl millet in order to enhance resistance to heat and the common “blast” disease. With breeding innovations, pearl millet is one of the crops that are fighting poverty.
  5. Bananas in Costa Rica: One out of every 10 bananas produced in 2015 hailed from Costa Rica, the globe’s third-largest banana producer. This industry generated $ 1.1 billion in 2017 and provides jobs for 100,000 Costa Ricans. However, approximately 90% of banana crops across the nation are at risk of nutrient deprivation from a pest known as nematode, which has the potential to obliterate entire plantations. An article by CropLife International reported that a sustainable pesticide has been created by plant scientists in order to mitigate poverty-inducing crop loss and provide environmentally-conscious methods for banana farmers to ward off pests.

Developing crop viability and agricultural technology is important for poverty alleviation as agriculture possesses twice the likelihood of creating financial growth than other economic sectors. Innovations in crop production that decrease the likelihood of failure from drought, disease and changing weather patterns are important for the well-being of rural communities across the globe. Potatoes, cassava, rice, pearl millet and bananas are just five examples of crops that are fighting poverty, but improvements in different facets of agriculture have the potential to enhance the livelihoods of those who provide the world’s food.

Suzi Quigg
Photo: Flickr

Education in Sierra LeoneMany important improvements in educational outcomes have occurred in Sierra Leone since 2015, especially for women and children. The country is bouncing back from the civil war, Ebola crisis and other serious challenges. This progress is partially owed to organizations that help children go to school. Several NGOs and community-based actors support education in Sierra Leone. Here is a small glimpse into the work of many.

4 Organizations Improving Education in Sierra Leone

  1. Street Child: Street Child’s goal is to improve the educational prospects of the world’s poorest and most marginalized children. Since its founding, the organization has helped more than 250,000 children escape poverty and go to school.  It originally started by improving education in Sierra Leone, where it began a project for 100 children in a small northern village. It has since expanded to serve children in ten other countries. Some of its work involves providing young girls with school supplies and giving families financial support. The organization also trains teachers and supplies classroom materials.
  2. Mother’s Club: After setbacks and challenges from the Ebola outbreak, mothers in Sierra Leone began organizing to ensure their children would receive a full education. Mother’s Clubs are village and community-based networks that sell products to fund their children’s schooling. Profits from farming, tye-dyeing, gardening and soap making pay for school supplies, books and uniforms. Thanks to these self-starters, with aid from international partners like UNICEF, communities can help drive positive educational outcomes.
  3. Girls Access to Education (GATE): Funded by U.K. Aid and its partners, Girl’s Access to Education (GATE) aims to help girls from disadvantaged households go to school and enables out-of-school girls to resume their education. Importantly, it also empowers communities to create their own solutions. The net enrollment rates in both primary and secondary education have consistently increased since 2013, due in part to their work. Where the literacy rate for girls ages 15-24 was less than 40% in 2005, that figure rose to 62.7% in 2018. The gap between male and female literacy rates continues to drastically decrease as well. This speaks to an overwhelmingly positive impact on Sierra Leone’s children and youth.
  4. Teach for All: Teach for All is a network of education partners and nonprofits who work together to help inspire change on a global scale. The organization announced Teach for Sierra Leone as its latest partner in July 2020. Similarly to other actors, Teach for Sierra Leone is community-driven and recognizes educational disparities in the country as an urgent issue. They aim to bridge education gaps by recruiting women and teachers from under-resourced schools whose efforts will help break the cycle of global poverty.

A Brighter Future

Overall, these organizations play a critical role in improving access to education in Sierra Leone. Currently, many schools have been disrupted due to COVID-19, but now radio lessons bridge the learning gap until reopening. So long as outside actors continue to provide foreign aid, assist in educational outcomes and empower communities, children in Sierra Leone will be able to reach their fullest potential.

Rachel Moloney
Photo: Flickr

Healthcare in Sierra LeoneSierra Leone is a small nation located on the coast of West Africa. While the country boasts an abundance of natural resources, it is also a poor nation, with a healthcare system in dire need of improvement. Here are 9 facts about healthcare in Sierra Leone.

9 Facts About Healthcare in Sierra Leone

  1. Sierra Leone has one of the lowest life expectancies on the globe. In 2018, the average life expectancy in Sierra Leone was 54.3 years. This places the nation among the bottom five in the entire world. In comparison, the average global life expectancy is 72.6 years.

  2. Sierra Leone faces high rates of infant and maternal mortality. Similar to life expectancy, infant and maternal fatality rates help gauge the quality of a nation’s health care system. In 2015, 87.1 infants died per 1,000 births in Sierra Leone, while 1,360 mothers died per 100,000 births. In the U.S., just 5.4 infants died per 1,000 births, and only 14 mothers died for every 100,000 births. Birth-related deaths generally occur when there are delays in women seeking, reaching and receiving care.

  3. All people living in Sierra Leone are at risk of malaria. Malaria is endemic to the nation, and poses a great health risk. In fact, four out of every ten hospital visits in Sierra Leone are due to malaria. Children are at particular risk, and the disease contributes to the nation’s high number of child fatalities. However, rates of the illness are falling across the country due to preventative practices such as sleeping under insecticide treated nets. Earlier diagnoses and treatments also contribute to the lowered rates of illness. By the end of 2020, the Ministry of Health and Sanitation in Sierra Leone hopes to have decreased cases by 40 percent.

  4. The Ebola outbreak of 2014 hit Sierra Leone particularly hard. Despite its relatively small population, there were more cases of Ebola in Sierra Leone than any other country. To be exact, there were a total of 14,124 cases in the country, including nearly 4,000 deaths. The first case was reported in May 2014, and Sierra Leone was not declared Ebola-free until February 2016. According to the World Health Organization, the virus was able to spread so widely due to the weaknesses of the healthcare in Sierra Leone. These weaknesses included too few healthcare workers, not enough oversight and a lack of resources.

  5. Disabled residents face tough conditions. Approximately 450,000 disabled people live in Sierra Leone, including those who were maimed in the decade-long civil war that ended in 2002. The government does not currently provide any assistance to the disabled. Those with disabilities resort to begging on the streets of Freetown, the nation’s capital. Disabled youth turned away from their families (due to the family’s inability to support the youth) often form their own communities on the streets. Employment can also be hard to achieve due to discrimination. Julius Cuffie, a member of Parliament who suffers from polio, brings awareness to the disabled’s struggles. Hoping to bring the disabled’s issues to the forefront, Cuffie pushes for the Persons with Disabilities Act.

  6. Corruption exists in Sierra Leone’s healthcare system. According to a 2015 survey, 84 percent of Sierra Leoneans have paid a bribe just to use government services. Additionally, about a third of the funds given to fight the Ebola crisis are not accounted for. This translates to roughly 11 million pounds, or almost 14 million dollars. Sierra Leone has a literacy rate of about 40 percent. As a result, many health care services overcharge unknowing residents for basic services. A new initiative, put together by the nation’s Anti-Corruption Commission, advises residents to report cases of bribery.

  7. In 2010, Sierra Leone began offering free health care. The Free Healthcare Initiative (FHCI) aims to decrease the nation’s high maternal, infant and child mortality rate. The government also hopes the initiative improves general health across the country. The ordinance provides a package of free services for pregnant women, lactating mothers and children under the age of five. The program has not been without its challenges, however, due to the aforementioned weaknesses of previous systems of health care in Sierra Leone. That said, the initiative has resulted in a number of positive changes. For example, there has been an increase in the number of healthcare staff, a larger willingness for parents to seek care for their children and a reduction in mortality for those under five.

  8. There has been an increase in efforts to strengthen emergency medical response in Sierra Leone. Road accidents kill thousands each year in the country. In response to this, the First Responder Coalition of Sierra Leone (FRCSL) was created in 2019 to improve the state of urgent medical care. Five national and international groups in Makeni, a city in northern Sierra Leone, founded the coalition. The group aims to provide emergency care, treat the high numbers of injuries and resolve the low amount of pre-hospital treatment in Sierra Leone. In its first two months, the FRSCL trained 1,000 Makeni residents, equipping each one with a first aid kit. The coalition hopes to train 3,500 more in the next six months. It also plans on expanding out of the northern province in the next five years. Hopefully, the FRCSL’s efforts will save thousands of lives from vehicle accidents in the coming years.

  9. CARE is working to improve sexual and reproductive health for women and girls in Sierra Leone. The humanitarian agency began working in the country in 1961. Goals of the organization include providing medical supplies and contraceptives, giving training to healthcare workers and working with the community to eliminate attitudes that prevent women from discovering their rights to sexual and reproductive health. CARE is currently present in approximately 30 percent of the country’s communities, particularly in areas that have high rates of HIV infection and teenage pregnancy. One Sierra Leonean mother, named Fanta, credits CARE with educating her about proper breastfeeding and health practices, leading to the survival and continued health of her daughter.

Healthcare in Sierra Leone is an issue that is complicated by the nation’s high rates of poverty, many endemic diseases and tumultuous political history. While shocking statistics, such as the country’s low life expectancy and high maternal and infant mortality rates paint a grim picture, there are signs of progress being made, and there is potential for much more change on the horizon.

– Joshua Roberts

Photo: Flickr

UNICEF Soccer AidFor over a decade, UNICEF has hosted its annual Soccer Aid, a charity soccer match featuring both professional and celebrity players to raise money for keeping kids around the world happy, healthy and safe. This year, the match was held in London on June 16, and raised a record-breaking £6,774,764 ($8,577,528.70 USD) in one night alone and £1,000,000 more than last year. The UK public, ITV and STV users all contributed, and the UK government matched each donation up to £3,000,000 to defend play for every child.

Helping Sierra Leone and Zambia

The money raised from the match will support the work of UNICEF to ensure that over 80,000 children in Sierra Leone and Zambia can have a childhood of play. The funding will help to provide lifesaving food, vaccinations, clean water, support for caring for mothers and babies and protect children from violence, exploitation, and abuse.

Sierra Leone’s under-five mortality rate is in the 2nd percentile, having one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world. The many causes of death in children are preventable. Most deaths are due to nutritional deficiencies, pneumonia, diarrhoeal diseases, anemia, malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV/AIDS. Some of the attributable factors include limited access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation, poor feeding and hygienic practices, and limited access to quality health services.

Zambia is a country with many adolescents. 53 percent of the population is under 18 years old, and many of these children–45.4 percent–are affected by extreme poverty. Almost 65 percent of children in rural Zambia are affected by three or more deprivations: access to nutrition, education, health, water sanitation, adequate housing, and physical and emotional abuse. While the infant mortality rate improved by 37 percent between 2007 and 2014, it is still in the 25th percentile. However, with the help of UNICEF Soccer Aid, these conditions can be improved.

UNICEF’s Impact

UNICEF has worked in 190 countries and territories over 70 years to fight for the lives of children around the world. Through their projects, including child protection and inclusion, child survival, education, emergency relief, gender discrimination, innovation, supply and logistics, and research and analysis, the organization saves the lives of nearly 3,000,000 each year.

UNICEF believes in the power of play and the joy of a carefree childhood. However, millions of children around the world are unable to be included in this objective due to disease, conflict, hunger and poverty.
Through play, children are able to learn how to interact with their peers and learn abstract concepts. Just 15 minutes of play can spark thousands of connections in a baby’s brain, and playing before they enter school has an impact on how they will perform.

Since its first match in 2006, UNICEF Soccer Aid has raised more than £35,000,000 and through projects funded by Soccer Aid and the UK government, they have improved the lives of 2,000,000 children and 903,000 pregnant women.

Over the last 13 years, UNICEF Soccer Aid has been able to change the lives of children by helping them reach their full potential. By bringing people together to watch a match and encourage donations, they are able to change lives in many in parts of the world.

– Alexia Carvajalino
Photo: Unsplash

Sierra LeoneSierra Leone has been trying to heal multiple wounds over the past few decades. The civil war from 1991-2002 left the nation with an especially deep cut. Many people fled their rural communities for growing urban areas; cities like Freetown quickly became overcrowded, leading to the appearance of slums almost overnight. According to the World Health Organization’s research, urban overpopulation, lack of sanitation and inadequate health services are key reasons as to why disease and death are so prominent in these locations. This holds especially true for mothers as well as for children under five. Humanitarian aid to Sierra Leone is vital in order to improve the lives of the country’s citizens.

Luckily, nongovernmental organizations like Concern Worldwide have implemented aid programs in Sierra Leone. From October 2011 to June 2017, Concern Worldwide implemented a USAID- and Irish Aid-funded Child Survival Project (CSP), also known as “Al Pikin fo Liv” (Life for Children). This program was designed to reduce maternal, infant and child deaths through the building of key foundations at 10 urban sites in the Freetown Western Urban Area District.

The main concern for completing the program was how to put into operation the national Community Health Worker Policy (CHWP). USAID and Concern Worldwide did this by working with individual health facilities to improve the quality of healthcare worker training, apply clinical protocols and providing on-the-job supervision and mentorship. Essentially, the CSP aimed to increase the number of healthcare workers per facility and improve the quality of care that is provided.

This might seem like it doesn’t have a solid correlation to solving maternal, infant, and child mortality. However, while it might be a simpler task to prevent death and offer treatment to an individual, it’s another matter to treat disease and prevent future deaths on a national level. The CSP and the implementation of the CHWP are strategies that are meant to carry on into the future.

It will take a number of years in order to determine the overall success of the humanitarian aid to Sierra Leone on maternal, infant and child health. But, in interviews completed after the program’s end date, many healthcare workers believed they were given the right training and resources in order to continue running efficient facilities and to improve care for patients. The community in general also felt more connected, because households were given increased knowledge about the importance of treatment and the health facilities were partnered with the Freetown City Council, Health Management Committees and Ward Development Committees at each project site.

This sense of unity and a more focused understanding of community-based health in urban settings is a powerful tool to have. It is important that humanitarian aid to Sierra Leone continues to be funded and implemented on the ground, in order to ensure an improved way of life and better futures for all citizens.

– Caysi Simpson

Photo: Flickr

Diseases in Sierra LeoneLocated in Western Africa, bordering the Atlantic Ocean, Sierra Leone has a population of over six million and growing. Rapid population growth rates due to high fertility among women has led to increased need for improved drinking water and sanitation facilities. In 2015, over 93 percent of the rural population had unimproved access to sanitation facilities and over 52 percent had unimproved access to clean drinking water, according to the CIA World Factbook. Sierra Leone’s population is categorized at a “very high risk” of contracting infectious diseases. Here are some common diseases in Sierra Leone that are of issue.

Zika Virus
Spread by the bite of an infected mosquito, Zika virus can be from person to person through intercourse as well as from a pregnant woman to her fetus. Zika is linked to a number of birth defects including incomplete brain development. Many people infected by the virus show no or few symptoms such as fever, rash, headache, red eyes and muscle pain. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) strictly states that women who are pregnant should not travel to Sierra Leone. All travelers should prevent mosquito bites and have minimal sexual contact. The first recorded outbreak of the Zika virus in Sierra Leone was documented by the World Health Organization (WHO) from 1960 to 1983.

Lassa Fever
A viral disease carried by rats, Lassa fever can be contracted through exposure to rodent fecal matter or urine. Within the first week of February 2017, three deaths due to Lassa fever were reported in the city of Kenema in Sierra Leone. According to the CDC, there are an estimated 100,000 to 300,000 documented cases of Lassa virus infections in West Africa every year, with a resulting 5,000 deaths. Lassa fever is more widespread within the country than it ever has been before and is classified as one of the most common diseases in Sierra Leone.

Typhoid Fever
According to the CDC, nearly 26 million cases of typhoid fever are reported annually worldwide. Spread through consumption of water or food contaminated with fecal matter or sewage, the CDC strongly suggests all travelers be vaccinated for typhoid fever if traveling to Sierra Leone. The most vulnerable to contracting the disease in the country are infants ages one to four. The most common symptom is sustained high fever.

Malaria
Transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected female mosquito, malaria can cause fever, chills and eventual anemia due to damage to the vital organs. In 2013, there were a total of 1.7 million recorded cases of the disease in Sierra Leone’s population of six million. The CDC recommends travelers take a prescription medicine before and during travels to Sierra Leone to lower risk of infection. All areas of Sierra Leone are at risk for the malaria epidemic.

Travelers are at high risk for all common diseases in Sierra Leone. Disease detection, control and prevention remain some of the highest priorities of the country’s Ministry of Health and Sanitation.

Riley Bunch

Photo: Flickr

Education in Sierra LeoneAs of this year, Sierra Leone is an Ebola-free country. However, thousands of lives were lost during the epidemic, and while it may be over, the effects of the disease are still crippling the country, especially economically.

During the epidemic, schools were shut down to prevent further spread of the disease. These closures stalled the learning of almost 1.8 million children. For nine months, the youth of Sierra Leone were not only living in fear of Ebola but also of falling behind in their studies.

With the loss of “181 teachers and 945 students,” according to UNICEF, it was difficult for Sierra Leone to reopen schools again in 2015. Education in Sierra Leone had been on the rise since the end of the country’s civil war in 2002. The Ebola epidemic cracked that stable foundation and led to “an accelerated curriculum to shorten the duration of academic years” to make up for what school-aged children had missed.

Due to the increase of poverty in Sierra Leone, education has been put on the back burner for many families. Many children are now reliant on other family members to care for them, which means they are now less likely to finish their education.

Beginning in 2015, the charity Street Child has been working hard to recover education in Sierra Leone. They have found that 12,000 children no longer have an adult to support them because of Ebola. The CEO of Street Child, Tom Dannatt, said, “…unless we help families out of poverty, their children remain out of school. It is likely that their life prospects will be bleak as a result.”

Street Child runs a program called Livelihoods Programme, which supports the businesses of poor families that cannot afford school for the children they’re responsible for. The program provides grants to start small businesses. Training programs are also available along with these grants.

Another organization, Dubai Cares, started Education in Emergencies: Evidence for Action (3EA), a program focused specifically on recovering education in Sierra Leone. The goal of the program is to “improve teaching methodologies, ways to monitor and mentor staff, and reinforcing teaching styles that improve classroom performance.” 3EA encourages a positive learning environment and fitting the lessons to accommodate each student.

The Livelihoods Programme and Education in Emergencies: Evidence for Action have so far proven to be successful approaches to improving the education system in Sierra Leone. Both have allowed a greater number of children to go back to school, despite the country’s serious poverty. The future generation of Sierra Leone is not going to remain a victim of the Ebola epidemic, thanks to help from charitable organizations and knowledgeable people.

Mackenzie Fielder

Human Rights in Sierra Leone
Sierra Leone is a small country in West Africa best known for the large number of high-quality diamonds it supplies to the world market. Urbanization is growing in the country. The population living in cities is expected to increase from 39 to 44% from 2015 to 2030. Human rights in Sierra Leone appear to be on the rise, but the country ranks 120th worldwide on the Social Progress Index. Why, given the increases in urbanization and economic strength, does the standard of living in Sierra Leone remain so low?

Most of the reasons relate to human rights in Sierra Leone. Or, more accurately, the lack thereof. Even during the 2014-16 Ebola epidemic, when there were 4,000 deaths and more than 13,000 cases of the disease, government funds intended for medical aid disappeared mysteriously, pointing to extraordinary corruption on a national level.

In addition to rampant government corruption, the freedom of the press is minimal in Sierra Leone. The government uses libel laws to target journalists when they pursue the topic of government corruption. Consequently, this obstructs transparency and allows corruption to continue unencumbered.

Even though the Ebola epidemic officially ended in January 2016, numerous health problems still plague the country. Although many of the health centers established to handle the Ebola outbreak remain functional, at least 20% don’t have access to running water. In addition, half don’t practice proper waste management techniques.

Due to the recent civil wars, there is no land-titling system. This effectively eliminates any chance for traditional, government-sanctioned property rights. Private businesses require extensive licensing, severely limiting economic freedoms in Sierra Leone.

However, human rights in Sierra Leone are beginning to improve. Before the Ebola outbreak, medical services were few and far between, but the intervention of the World Health Organization has encouraged significant improvement. Since 1995, government corruption has decreased by roughly 20 points in the World Heritage Index. The same holds true in the economic field, where over the same time span, monetary freedom increased by 18 points and freedom of trade has improved by 25.

While Sierra Leone still faces a long journey forward, they have still made significant strides toward improving the quality of life of its citizens.

Connor Scott Keowen

Photo: Flickr


The U.N. projects that there are more displaced people in the world now than at any other time since World War II. Most of these refugees come from Africa, which has put large demands on European and African countries. Future refugee projections continue to rise due to ongoing conflicts and the effects of climate change. Case studies in Sierra Leone show us the importance of rehabilitating governmental institutions and economic markets in conflict-prone regions.

10 Facts About Sierra Leone Refugees.

  1. Thousands of natives fled their country during a bloody civil war that lasted from 1991 to 2002.
  2. The Revolutionary United Front (RUF), with support from the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL), attempted to overthrow the president at the time, Joseph Momoh.
  3. This 11-year civil war resulted in 50,000 deaths and the internal displacement of two million people. Among the displaced, 490,000 sought refuge in the neighboring countries of Liberia and Guinea.
  4. In 2008, the U.N. High Commission for Refugees conducted a campaign in Guinea. The project aimed to inform Sierra Leone refugees of the upcoming withdrawal of their refugee status.
  5. The UNHCR convened in 2008, and found that conditions in Sierra Leone had returned to normal. This meant that Sierra Leoneans who fled their country during the civil war in the early 1990s would no longer be considered refugees because the root causes of the Sierra Leone refugee problem no longer existed.
  6. This decision was reached after an analysis of the fundamental and positive changes that have taken place in Sierra Leone. A peace agreement was struck between the Joseph Momoh government and the RUF in January of 2002, marking the beginning of these changes.
  7. Under a previous UNHCR initiative, a voluntary repatriation operation that took place from September 2000 to July 2004, more than 179,000 Sierra Leone refugees were able to return home.
  8. There are 13,500 refugees from Sierra Leone who continue to live abroad, 1,825 of whom are living in Guinea, and 2,368 in Liberia.
  9. The UNHCR voluntary repatriation operation for refugees from Sierra Leone ended in July 2004. This program offered financial assistance to refugees to assist in transit and resettlement in Sierra Leone.
  10. The U.N. Development Program (UNDP) continued to work with the local government to ensure that returning refugees were integrating effectively, without stressing markets. Additionally, UNDP continued to meet the needs and priorities of the government through aligning long-term development programs and non-governmental relief actors facilitating recovery.

Sierra Leone ended its 11-year long civil war in 2002 and has since re-established democratic institutions. This restructuring process strengthened Sierra Leone’s government and was essential to the reception of 60,000 Liberian refugees in 2005. Sierra Leone is a shining example for current conflict-rode regions as they look towards the future.

Josh Ward

Photo: Flickr

Hunger in Sierra Leone
The West African country of Sierra Leone is home to some of the greatest diamond, gold, and titanium mines in the world. Despite this natural wealth, however, more than half of Sierra Leone’s people live below the poverty line. Here are 10 facts about hunger in Sierra Leone:

  1. There are more than 6.4 million people living in Sierra Leone, 52.9 percent of whom live below the national poverty line.
  2. Malnutrition is the greatest cause of child mortality in Sierra Leone, accounting for nearly half of all child deaths. Almost one-third of children under five are chronically malnourished.
  3. Roughly 60 percent of the population lives in rural areas, the majority of whom rely on subsistence agriculture for their livelihoods.
  4. Agriculture, however, has faced many challenges in recent years due to lack of equipment, poor quality seeds, deforestation and climate change. Rice production has declined so significantly that only four percent of farmers produce enough to meet their needs.
  5. Due to these agricultural struggles, the country now imports large amounts of food. Between $200 and $300 million is spent each year importing rice alone, harming local agriculture and increasing the country’s vulnerability to global price fluctuations.
  6. Economic development halted between 1991 and 2001 due to a civil war. This has had lasting impacts on the country’s economy, as approximately 1.5 million people were forced to leave their homes and livelihoods.
  7. The Ebola outbreak also worsened hunger in Sierra Leone. Approximately 280,000 people were made food-insecure due to the disease.
  8. In order to encourage young people to attend school, and to increase the education that is vital to rebuilding the country post-war, many primary schools offer feeding programs.
  9. In areas of the country where agriculture is still not providing enough food to feed the villages, food-for-work and food-for-training programs are in place to help support people as the country’s infrastructure is rebuilt.
  10. The World Food Programme runs a number of programs in order to combat hunger in Sierra Leone. Among them is a supplementary feeding program in order to treat malnutrition in lactating mothers and children under five.

While the country is still struggling to rebuild its economy after repeated crises, progress has been made. Numerous programs have been put in place that are making a significant impact in the fight against hunger in Sierra Leone.

Alexi Worley

Photo: Flickr