Poverty has held a tight grip on Sierra Leone for as long as most people can remember. Sierra Leone remains one of the least developed low-income countries in the world. With a population of around six million people, the level of poverty is vast. The poverty status is well-known, although not many people know its extent or how it became this way. To clarify, here are the top 10 facts about poverty in Sierra Leone.
Key Facts About Poverty in Sierra Leone
- Sierra Leone’s social, economic and political unrest began around the time they gained independence from the British in 1961. This led to many economic and political challenges.
- In 1991, the state of Sierra Leone was devastated by extreme brutality when a civil war broke out as a result of a rebel group’s attempt to overthrow the government in power. Over 50,000 civilians were killed and an estimated two million were displaced.
- Since the end of the civil war in 2002, poverty alleviation has been a priority for the region; however, the level of poverty still remains high at its impact on 50-60 percent of the population.
- Most of Sierra Leone is rural communities with a few urban exceptions like the capitol, Freetown. Poverty levels in the rural areas have been gradually declining but remain relatively stagnant in the more urban communities.
- Sierra Leone has made considerable progress in the economy as a result of poverty alleviation efforts. The growth in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) increased from 4.5 percent to 5.3 percent in 2010. It has been projected that the economy will grow 6 percent on average every year.
- The impoverished conditions are also not always the people’s fault. The region is prone to natural disasters, climate change and epidemics. Climate change alone can cause an annual loss between $600 million and one billion. It also leads to heightened pollution and the devastation of critical crops.
- Another one of the top ten facts about poverty in Sierra Leone is that it is heavily dependent on aid. An estimated 50 percent of public investment programs are being financed by foreign sources.
- The progress of poverty alleviation was halted by the Ebola outbreak of 2014. The outbreak ravaged the area and hit the economy with a decrease of almost 3 percent in average growth rate.
- USAID, since the civil war, has been aiding Sierra Leone specifically in gaining political stability and strengthening democratic governance. Maintaining stability will help ensure the proper development of the region as well as maintain peace and security.
- The educational completion levels are low in the region with more than half of the people over the age of fifteen having never attended school. In general, the access to public services such as education is very low.
Sierra Leone, while being underdeveloped, is still a very young country. There is progress each year that will only continue from here. Many foreign aid agencies are invested in the progression of poverty alleviation in Sierra Leone and wish to assure peace and security.
– Samantha Harward