Situated on the North Atlantic coast of West Africa, Sierra Leone is small but densely populated. Ranked 179 out of 188 countries in the 2017 Human Development Index, it is one of the poorest countries in the world with more than half of its population surviving on less than US$ 1.90 a day. Since the signing of the peace agreement in 2002, it has been recovering from a 11-year war that destroyed the national infrastructure and basic social services.
An outbreak of Ebola in 2014claimed the lives of 4,000 people and had a severe impact on the country’s economy. GDP growth, which peaked at almost 21 percent in 2013 thanks to strong mining exports, slowed down in 2014 due to the Ebola outbreak and a fall in global iron ore prices.
Food insecurity, stemming from extremely low agricultural productivity, is pervasive, with 50 percent of the population lacking access to sufficient nutritious food to live a healthy life. Chronic malnutrition is widespread, with the prevalence of stunting at 31.3 percent, above the World Health Organisation’s ‘high’ threshold (>30%).
According to the 2015 climate change vulnerability index (CCVI), Sierra Leone is the second most vulnerable country to the effects of climate change, categorised as extremely vulnerable in terms of impact on food production, poverty, migration and social stability. Climate-related shocks in recent years have been common. These included major flooding in 2015 and a devastating landslide in 2017, resulting in significant loss of life.
Nearly three-quarters of the country’s land area is suitable for crop production on a sustainable basis, but less than 15 per cent of this arable land is currently under cultivation. Agricultural output and development are constrained by labour shortages, lack of agricultural equipment, poor quality seeds and high post-harvest losses.
Deforestation, land degradation and climate change have also limited growth. Production of rice, the country’s staple food, has declined to such an extent that only 4 percent of farmers produce enough to meet their own needs. Most rice, therefore, is now imported, increasing vulnerability to price fluctuations.
The World Food Programme (WFP) has been present in Sierra Leone since 1968. WFP supports the Government of Sierra Leone through a range of life-saving and resilience building activities. WFP uses food, cash, nutrition assistance and innovative approaches to improve nutrition, empower women, build local capacities and enhance both local and national preparedness to climate-related shocks.
What the World Food Programme is doing in Sierra Leone
Maternal and child nutritionWFP is gradually phasing out moderate acute malnutrition (GAM) treatment for nursing mothers and children under 5 due to declining rates and will continue to provide supplementary feeding in government health facilities in the four districts with the highest GAM rates. WFP complements the efforts of government, UNICEF and other partners to address stunting by providing a nutrient-dense complementary food, to children under 2 in the two districts with the highest rates of stunting.
Food by prescription for people living with HIV and TBWith support from the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, WFP provides Food-by-prescription assistance to people living with HIV and Tuberculosis (TB). The programme provides HIV patients undergoing anti-retroviral treatment and TB patients enrolled in Directly Observed Treatment Short Course with nutritional support to promote adherence to therapy and treat moderate acute malnutrition.
Strengthening agricultural livelihoodsThrough a Purchase for Progress (P4P) programme, WFP and its partners help smallholder farmer increase production capacity and enable them to access sustainable, formal markets to sell their surplus crops at competitive prices, thus bolstering their income, reducing vulnerability and increasing resilience.
Promoting resilienceThrough food assistance for asset creation, WFP strengthens the livelihoods of food insecure communities that are vulnerable to shocks, by implementing programmes that create productive assets, promote the production of nutritionally diverse foods, diversify livelihood strategies and rehabilitate natural resources.
Strengthening capacities of national institutionsBuilding on the infrastructure and logistics capacity established during the Ebola outbreak, WFP continues to support government efforts in disaster management and food security monitoring capabilities by providing training and technical assistance in the areas of disaster planning, supply chain systems, geo-spatial mapping, nutrition-sensitive programming and food security monitoring and analysis. WFP also maintains a logistics base to serve as a storage facility for essential humanitarian and preparedness assets.
School feeding programmeWFP pilots a school meals programme targeting 35,000 school children in two of the most food insecure districts of the country – Pujehun and Kambia. Providing fortified food for primary school children, the project aims to increase enrolment and retention in school and improve the nutritional status of children. In addition, the programme will link local farmers to markets which will increase household income and support economic development on the community level.
Partners and donorsAchieving Zero Hunger is the work of many. Our work in Sierra Leone is made possible by the support and collaboration of our partners and donors, including:
- The Government of the Republic of Sierra LeoneMinistry of Primary and Secondary Education
- Community Action for the Welfare of Children (CAWeC)
- Sierra Leone Poverty Alleviation AgencyBuilding Resources Across Communities (BRAC-SL)Caritas Makeni