Ebola emergency

The World Food Programme's (WFP) Ebola response helps people affected by the virus outbreak in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, by delivering food and organising logistics alongside the health response. More information can be found on the Ebola emergency page.

More on Sierra Leone

What are the current issues in Sierra Leone

Although Sierra Leone has abundant natural resources, the decade-long civil war severely devastated the country’s economy, destroyed infrastructure and caused large-scale human suffering. The global recession has hampered recent progress, which has decreased incoming capital. The country ranks 177 out of 187 countries on the 2013 UNDP Human Development Index.

WFP and other UN agencies support the Government of Sierra Leone in the implementation of its 'Agenda for Prosperity' (2013-2018), which prioritizes agricultural and infrastructure development and works to improve social services through the UN Joint Transition Programme and the fifth component of the Smallholder Commercialization Programme (Social Protection, Food Security and Productive Social Safety Nets).

The situation in Sierra Leone has significantly improved since 2002, due to increased security and peace-building efforts. In 2013, Sierra Leone was ranked the 59th most peaceful country out of 162 in the world by the Global Peace Index (GPI). The return of displaced rural populations to their homes has helped agricultural recovery across most of the country.

The agricultural sector contributes over 40 percent of Sierra Leone’s GDP. In the President’s Agenda for Prosperity (2013-2018), the Government of Sierra Leone declared agricultural development and food security the foundations for the country’s economic growth and poverty reduction.

Sierra Leone faces significant challenges related to food security and nutrition. Average lifespan is roughly half that of western nations, and malnutrition rates are among the world’s highest, with acute malnutrition at or above emergency levels of 15 percent among children under five years old. Poverty remains pervasive, particularly in the Eastern and Northern regions, where more than six out of ten people live on less than one euro a day. According to a 2011 comprehensive food security and vulnerability analysis (CFSVA), 45 percent of households (2.5 million people) are classified as food-insecure during the lean season.

Unemployment (especially among youth), low labor productivity, lack of irrigation, over-harvesting and inadequate access to food markets as a result of poor infrastructure continue to threaten food security.

What the World Food Programme is doing in Sierra Leone

WFP has been operational in Sierra Leone since 1968. WFP supports the southern, northern, eastern and western area regions with an office in Freetown and two sub-offices located in Kenema and Makeni.

In collaboration with the Government and other partners, WFP pursues the goal of reducing hunger and building resilience of vulnerable populations by supporting reconstruction and rehabilitation following the devastating civil war in the 1990s. In 2012, WFP reached 455,900 vulnerable people across Sierra Leone with 11,200 mt of food.

WFP assistance in Sierra Leone focuses on food insecure and vulnerable households in rural, peri-urban and urban areas, supporting the government to accelerate the transition from recovery efforts to long-term development.

Working with the government of Sierra Leone and partners, WFP targets development goals across three interlinked areas: education, health/nutrition, and livelihoods.

WFP supports basic primary education through the provision of daily school meals in an effort to increase school enrolment, particularly among vulnerable children.

WFP seeks to improve the health and nutritional status of women and children through Mother-and-Child Health and Nutrition programmes. It also provides food assistance for people living with HIV and tuberculosis.

WFP also supports the livelihoods of the poorest segments of the population, with a particular focus on women and youth. Activities include Food-for-Work and Cash-for-Work programmes as well as the provision of food through selected training institutions.

Sierra Leone is one of 20 countries in which Purchase for Progress (P4P) has been piloted for five years. Sierra Leone‘s P4P initiative works with small-holder farmers so that they can sell their surplus crops at competitive prices. Rice, gari and blended food sourced through P4P account for 70 percent of WFP’s procurement. The locally purchased rice is mainly used for WFP‘s school meals programme. WFP works with processing companies capable of producing fortified blended foods.

Featured Sierra Leone publications

  • Sierra Leone: WFP Country Brief (PDF, 339 KB)

    A Country Brief provides the latest snapshot of the country strategy, operations, operational highlights (achievements and issues/challenges), partnerships and country background.

Looking for more publications on Sierra Leone? Visit the Sierra Leone publications archive.