Although Sierra Leone has great natural resources, the decade-long civil war severely devastated the country’s economy, destroyed infrastructure and caused large-scale human suffering. In 2008, Sierra Leone ranked 84 out of 88 countries in the Global Hunger Index and last out of 179 countries in the Human Development Index.
Read more on the Sierra Leone Annual Report 2008.
WFP together with other UN agencies supports the efforts of the Government of Sierra Leone to consolidate peace and prosperity in the country. Key priorities are integration of rural areas, economic and social integration of the youth, equitable access to health services, and accessible and credible public services.
The overall situation in Sierra Leone has significantly improved since 2001 due to increased security. The subsequent return of displaced rural populations to their homes has helped agricultural recovery, which is taking place across most of the country.
The agricultural sector contributes to over 40 percent of Sierra Leone’s GDP. In the President’s Agenda for Change (2008) the Government of Sierra Leone has declared agricultural development and food security to be the foundations for the country’s economic growth and poverty reduction.
Some 40 percent of all children below five are chronically undernourished which puts them at high risk to never develop their full physical and mental potential. Acute child malnutrition is at 10 percent, alarmingly high. Every fourth child dies before reaching the age of five. About one fourth of the rural population is estimated to have poor or borderline food consumption based on the vulnerability analysis of 2007.
Poverty remains pervasive with more than two thirds of the population of about six million living below the poverty line, particularly in the Eastern and Norhtern regions. Unemployment, especially among the youth, low labour productivity, lack of irrigation, over-harvesting and inadequate access to food markets as a result of poor road infrastructure continue to be risks to food security.
WFP has been operational in Sierra Leone since 1968. In collaboration with the Government and other partners it pursues the goal of feeding the hungry poor by supporting reconstruction and rehabilitation following a devastating civil war in the 1990s. In 2008, WFP provided food to 473,800 vulnerable people.
Child after WFP's distribution of cooking oil in village of Seidu, Kono District, Sierra Leone, 2008.
Copyright: WFP/Francis Boima
WFP’s food assistance focuses on the reconstruction of basic social infrastructure. It supports basic primary education through the provision of daily school meals. In addition, a monthly take-home ration is provided to 4,600 girls in grades four to six in the northern districts of Koinadugu and Kambia which have extremely low primary school completion rates for girls (20%). In 2008, 273,000 pupils benefited from the programme.
WFP seeks to improve the health and nutritional status of women and children through integrated Mother-and-Child Health and Nutrition programmes. It also provides food assistance for people living with HIV.
WFP also provides food assistance to vulnerable populations in the Eastern and Southern Provinces of the country which suffered the highest levels of destruction during the civil war. WFP focuses on the restoration of agricultural production (food and tree crops), education and health. These activities include Nutrition Support, School Feeding, Food for Training and Food for Work.
Sierra Leone is one of the 21 countries where WFP’s Purchase for Progress (P4P) initiative will be piloted. WFP with its partners will engage small farmers by supporting their agricultural production and linking them to the market and will then use its purchasing power to procure food from them.