We want to increase the number of children in Sierra Leone who are well-nourished. We are working towards this by:
- Increasing household income
- Improving household food security
- Improving families’ abilities to cope with emergencies
- Improving the nutrition status of households
- Improving on-farm and off-farm management of natural resources
The agriculture sector is the largest employer in Sierra Leone, with 77.3% of the population working in this sector. Two-thirds of the population is directly involved in subsistence agriculture, with farmers only growing enough food to feed themselves and their families. Thus widespread poverty remains the main obstacle for economic growth in Sierra Leone. Small harvests and low incomes mean families often lack the ability to provide for their children’s nutritional needs to ensure proper growth and development.
Sierra Leone is the third Hungriest Nation in the World: 36% of our children are stunted. The Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone had severe impacts on the country’s health system, economy and food security situation which left many already vulnerable families without one or both providers. Food security is undermined by chronic poverty.
Sierra Leone also faces an alarming level of hunger, with nearly 38% of children younger than five years of age suffering from chronic malnutrition. Food vulnerability has remained a key challenge for people who live in rural communities as they largely depend on subsistence farming as a source of livelihoods, thus rendering households more vulnerable during extremes of hunger seasons. Food insecurity is at 49.8% with 8.6% of households being severely food insecure and 41.2% moderately food insecure. The main underlying reasons for this high prevalence of food and nutrition insecurity in Sierra Leone include lack of Income, low household income to cater for nutritious food, limited mechanized farming and small land cultivation area by households.
To address many of the shorter-term needs brought on by the Ebola crisis, we provided cash vouchers and distributed food supplies to already vulnerable families who were directly impacted (the loss of a parent or provider) by the Ebola crisis.
Our teams are also working with farmers to increase the local value chain production of the orange-fleshed sweet potato, which is a cheap source of energy, rich in starch, sugars, minerals and vitamin A.
We also established more savings groups to enable farmers to accumulate savings and have easier access to loans. This has empowered them to buy quality seeds, increase their farm sizes and take care of other costs in their farming activities as well as being able to cover the educational and health expenses of their children.
Finally, we are also working on long-term sustainable solutions to ensure children and families have enough food to eat to meet their nutritional needs by increasing crop and livestock production and productivity through the distribution of tools and training, partnering with parents and communities and encouraging them to diversify their incomes with non-agricultural related activities. We are equipping families traditionally excluded by financial institutions with the tools to save for and invest in their future through the implementation of savings groups.
Yes! Between 2016 and 2017, we saw a 35% increase in the number of people participating in savings groups and an even larger growth (47%) in the number of money people are saving and the percent of people 54% who are requesting loans. This positive growth means that significantly more parents have the means to care and provide for their children. As a result, the number of children enrolled in school whose parents are participating in savings groups more than doubled (from 10,688 in 2016 to 28,733 in 2017)! As a result of our activities, the number of households facing hunger has dropped (from 95.9% in 2016 to 23.3% in 2017) and the number of average meals a child receives each day increased.
- 6,662 households received improved seeds
- 10,783 families directly affected by the Ebola crisis were supported with cash transfers
- 150 Ebola youth survivors trained in various skills.
- 25 framing groups received 1,500 piglets.
*Numbers from 2016 and 2017