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Sierra Leone

Ireland is supporting the people of Sierra Leone as they rebuild their country after years of conflict.  Our focus is on improving the health and nutrition of the poorest communities and we work in close co-operation with the Government, the UN and other partners to support long-term reconstruction and development. We provided more than €63 million in assistance to Sierra Leone between 2005 and 2011.

Women in colourful clothes gather in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone, located on the west coast of Africa, is a country of similar size and population to Ireland. Between 1991 and 2002, the country was devastated by a brutal civil war. The conflict left more than 50,000 people dead, much of the infrastructure destroyed, and over two million people displaced in neighbouring countries.

Since the end of the conflict in 2002, the country has made considerable progress towards peace and sustainable development. However, significant economic and development challenges face Sierra Leone as it rebuilds systems and services for its people. 

It is ranked 180 out of 187 countries on the 2011 United Nations Human Development Index (HDI) (Ireland is currently ranked 7). More than half of the population lives on less than $1.25 a day. Life expectancy is 48 years and the adult literacy rate is 41%. ‌

Our primary focus is on nutrition and food security. This is in line with our focus on the fight against global hunger and with the Government of Sierra Leone’s Poverty Reduction Strategy, the ‘Agenda for Change’ (PDF, 11.66mb).

Working with our development partners, we support:

  • Smallholder commercialisation programmes that promote crop intensification, production and diversification
  • School feeding programmes and community management of acute malnutrition
  • The refurbishment of health infrastructure, specifically paediatric wards

Our partners include the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN, the World Food Programme and UNICEF. Ireland is also working jointly with the United States in Freetown in the area of nutrition with a focus on the crucial first ‘1000 days of life’.

As part of our work we also have a strong focus on promoting greater accountability to citizens . We are providing support for the work of Sierra Leone’s Anti-Corruption Commission, the Sierra Leone Human Rights Commission, the International Rescue Committee to address gender-based violence and we provided financial assistance for the 2012 elections. 

In 2011, Irish Aid spent almost €4.5 million through our country programme in Sierra Leone.  An additional €4 million was channelled through our Civil Society Funding Schemes  to non-governmental organisations for their work in the country.

There has been a 12-fold increase in the number of children treated for severe acute malnutrition from 2,950 in 2007 to 35,000 children in 2011.

The following improvements have taken place with Irish Aid support in 2011 and in previous years :

  • A 12-fold increase in the number of children treated for severe acute malnutrition: increasing from 2,950 in 2007 to 35,000 children in 2011
  • A total of 22 agricultural business centres have been constructed in the Bo and Bonthe districts since 2010 benefitting 5,795 farming families
  • A daily school meal was provided to 118,000 students in 2011 and 2012, of which half are girls

In 2011, more than 1,000 women who had been raped or sexually assaulted received treatment and support at Rainbo Centres, which are funded by Irish Aid

Read more about our work to reduce hunger

Visit our Hunger section to learn more about our approach to this immense challenge.