Road project participants from Kambia village. WFP/Francis Boima
In Sierra Leone, roads are the crux of many farmers' livelihoods. WFP and partners are providing assistance to repair damaged roads, allowing farmers to sell their produce on local markets.
Alie Conteh is a modest farmer who struggles to transport his food to sell on the local market. The rainy season has left the road between his farm in Kambia village and the trade fair in Foredugu in poor condition.
“Some farmers cannot get their produce to the market in time and so their produce perishes,” said Alie Conteh. “My family and I used to carry our farm produce to the market at Foredugu on our heads when cars could not travel on the road.”
Roads are a vital life-line for traders and farmers. When roads become impassable, as is often the case during the rainy season, farmers are no longer able to transport their farm products to sell on local markets. The impact is detrimental to farmers’ livelihood.
Consumers too are negatively affected by poor infrastructure and floods during the rainy season. A decreased supply of available food on local markets results in higher food prices and consumers are no longer able to buy the same amount of food as previously.
"Walking to Foredugu did not only make the women vulnerable, but it also made taking care of a family a challenge especially when my husband was sick," said Ramatu Turay, a mother of four children.
Through PLAN International and in cooperation with the Government of Sierra Leone, WFP is providing assistance to communities to rehabilitate roads that connect smallholder farmers to markets. Funds from the European Union help bankroll these activities.
The residents of Kambia and nearby villages have turned the once terrible 6km road into a thorough fare for vehicles and motorbikes.
"Thanks to the concrete bridge constructed by PLAN, we no longer dread crossing the stream that used to overflow the palm log bridge," said Alie Conteh. "Trade has increased as farmers and traders can now access and sell their produce either in Kambia or Foredugu.”
Ramatu Turay’s livelihood has changed drastically in comparison to when she could barely afford to support herself and her family.
"Now I am able to pay for the medication of my husband and also pay for my children’s school fees with the money I get," said Ramatu Turay.