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Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone is a Key Partner Country for Irish Aid, demonstrating our commitment to supporting the successful transition of countries such as Sierra Leone, which are emerging from conflict or significant humanitarian crises.  Ireland opened a diplomatic and development aid mission in Freetown in 2005, which has since been upgraded to an Embassy (in 2014).  Sierra Leone, located on the west coast of Africa, is a country of similar size and population to Ireland.  Ireland has been supporting the people of Sierra Leone to rebuild their country since the end of an eleven year civil war in 2002.  Our main focus areas are improving the health and nutrition of the poorest communities and promoting women's rights, and we work in close co-operation with the Government of Sierra Leone, the UN and a range of non-governmental organisations to support long-term reconstruction and development. A significant recent focus has been the Ebola response programme.

Women in colourful clothes gather in Sierra Leone

Population: 6.1 million
Proportion of population living on less than $1.25 a day: 56.6%
 Ranking on UN Human Development Index: 183 out of 186
 Partner Country since:   2013

 A mother’s group discussing how to prevent child under nutrition within the community, Makarie, Sierra Leone. Photo: Irish Aid / Paul Sheehan

Ireland has had an active engagement with Sierra Leone since the end of the conflict in 2002 and has provided €94.9 million in assistance to projects in Sierra Leone between 2005 and 2014. Funding support has focused primarily on health projects, in particular food security and nutrition; and gender and human rights initiatives.  It has been delivered through UN agencies and NGOs in support of government systems and in line with the Development Cooperation Strategy for Sierra Leone 2011-2012 (extended to 2013). 

As well as providing support through the aid programme, the Embassy in Freetown assists Irish companies on request to do business in Sierra Leone.   A number of Irish firms are operating in Sierra Leone including in the mining, hospitality, and communications sectors. Since 2013, Sierra Leone has also been participating in the Irish Aid Fellowship Programme

Background

Sierra Leone achieved independence from the UK in 1961 and was ruled by one party from 1968-1992. Between 1991 and 2002, the country was devastated by a brutal war. The conflict left more than 50,000 people dead, much of the country’s infrastructure destroyed, and over two million people displaced in neighbouring countries. 

Since the end of the conflict in 2002, Sierra Leone has made considerable progress towards peace and development. The security situation in the country is stable.  Sierra Leone is currently ranked 140 of 185 in the World Bank’s Doing Business report and ranks as one of the top reformers since 2005 in terms of improving business regulation for domestic firms, and simplifying procedures for property registration.  The country is abundant in natural resources, including bauxite, rutile, iron ore, diamonds and gold. There is also good rainfall and agricultural potential. 

However, significant economic and development challenges continue to face the country as it builds systems and services for its people. Some of the ongoing challenges include extremely low levels of human development, significant gaps in basic service delivery, a lack of employment opportunities, low incomes and widespread corruption.  On top of this, the Ebola epidemic, which struck Sierra Leone in 2014, has significantly set back the country’s development agenda.

 The Cotton Tree is a Freetown Landmark. Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone is ranked 183 out of 187 countries on the 2014 United Nations Human Development Index (HDI) - Ireland is currently ranked 11. More than half of the population of Sierra Leone lives on less than €1 a day, life expectancy is 48 years old and two out of five Sierra Leoneans over the age of 15 cannot read and write. The infant mortality rate is extremely high at 119 deaths per 1,000 live births and the under-five mortality rate is 185 per 1,000 live births, the highest in the world. 44% of children in the country are considered moderately or severely stunted, a form of malnutrition.  The situation of women is particularly difficult with only one in ten girls finishing secondary school and high rates of teenage pregnancy - half of Sierra Leone’s girls are pregnant or already have children by the age of 18.  

Sierra Leone has a heavy dependency on foreign aid. There are a number of European companies heavily invested in the mining and large-scale farming sectors with access to significant resources. 

A girl walks down Kroobay Alley in Freetown, Sierra Leono. Photo: Irish Aid / Paul Sheehan

Our work

A country strategy for Ireland’s engagement in Sierra Leone was put in place in 2011, primarily centred on addressing the issues of nutrition and food security, in line with Ireland’s focus on the fight against global hunger. Promoting women’s rights and good governance are also significant features of this strategy. The strategy is in line with the Government of Sierra Leone’s Poverty Reduction Strategy, the Agenda for Prosperity.  

Programmes being supported by Irish Aid in Sierra Leone in the areas of nutrition and food security include support to the government’s National Nutrition Programme to improve the health status of mothers and children through the treatment and prevention of malnutrition, and support in the agriculture sector to improve the food security of farmers and their families and to build a national early warning system to avoid food shortages.  Working in support of the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security, and the Scaling Up Nutrition Secretariat in the Vice-President’s Office, Irish Aid partners with UNICEF, Food and Agriculture Organisation, World Food Programme, Helen Keller International and Action Contre la Faim. On request of the government, Ireland is the lead donor for the Scaling Up Nutrition movement in Sierra Leone.

 

 Maternity & Children’s hospital in Freetown, Sierra Leone

Ireland is also the lead donor on gender, working closely with national actors such as the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs. Ireland has funded the International Rescue Committee for the prevention and treatment of sexual and domestic violence and the United Nations Development Programme for promoting women’s access to the justice system for gender-based violence and land rights. Ireland currently funds Save the Children for a project supporting the implementation of the government’s National Strategy for the Reduction of Teen Pregnancy. Through this and other programmes Ireland is playing a leading role in the provision of support to pregnant teenage girls in Sierra Leone. 

In the area of governance and to support greater accountability to citizens, funding has been provided to the Anti-Corruption Commission, the Sierra Leone Human Rights Commission, and to the UN Basket Fund for elections. Ireland will continue to provide support to improve the governance capacity of national institutions in Sierra Leone, which will help to build trust between citizens and government.   

Since the outbreak of Ebola in Sierra Leone in 2014, Ireland has been working closely to assist the country in its response.   This is reflected in our annual plan for 2015 which is aligned with the priorities of the Sierra Leone Government’s Ebola recovery and transition plans, while maintaining a focus on some longer term governance and development priorities which remain crucial for the country.  The total budget for the bilateral programme this year is €8 million.  The goal of the 2015 programme is three-fold;

  1. To contribute to the national goal of reaching zero cases of Ebola in Sierra Leone
  2. To reduce the secondary impacts of Ebola, in particular within the nutrition/food security and gender sectors; and 
  3. To strengthen accountability mechanisms in the transition to long-term development

Since the outbreak of Ebola in Sierra Leone in 2014, Ireland has been working closely to assist the country in its response.   This is reflected in our annual plan for 2015 which is aligned with the priorities of the Sierra Leone Government’s Ebola recovery and transition plans, while maintaining a focus on some longer term governance and development priorities which remain crucial for the country.  The total budget for the bilateral programme this year is €8 million.  The goal of the 2015 programme is three-fold;

  1. To contribute to the national goal of reaching zero cases of Ebola in Sierra Leone
  2. To reduce the secondary impacts of Ebola, in particular within the nutrition/food security and gender sectors; and 
  3. To strengthen accountability mechanisms in the transition to long-term development 

Results from the Irish Aid Country Programme Investment include:

  • Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone declared over by WHO in November 2015
  • Children cured of Sever Acute Malnutrution in Sierra Leone rose from 93.2% in July 2014 to 95.4% in March 2015
  • The percentage of health clinics providing treatment for severe acute malnutrition in Sierra Leone has risen from 21% to 38% with the support of Irish Aid.
  • There has been an increase in the number of children treated for severe acute malnutrition from 2,950 in 2007 to over 26,000 children in 2012.
  • Since 2010 the number of children receiving all basic vaccinations before 12 months has risen from 40% to 70% with the support of Irish Aid and other donors.
  • Twenty-two agricultural business centres (ABCs) were constructed and equipped in Bo and Bonthe districts since 2010 with Irish funds. These centres provide processing and marketing opportunities for farmers. 2,100 farmers have been trained in business skills. Impact studies at community level in the Irish Aid funded districts show that 91% of participating farmers report higher incomes and improved household food security thanks to their participation in the ABC, mainly due to increased production and yields.
  • Between 2010 and 2013, 3,490 survivors of sexual assault received treatment and support at Irish-funded Rainbo centres in Freetown, Kenema and Kono, and at Kailahun Government Hospital
  • Data captured by voter registration equipment purchased with Irish Aid funds was considered a success and contributed to credible elections in 2012.
  • The rate of stunting in Sierra Leone decreased by 37.4% in 2008 to 28.8% in 2014
  • The rate of immunisation of children aged 12 to 23 months rose from 40% in 2008 to 68% in 2014

H‌ow we spend our Budget

 We spent just over €6.012 million in support of our development programmes in 2015 (see Summary of Partner Country Expenditure by Sector –‌ Irish Aid Annual Report 2015- Annex 9

Expenditure by sector Sierra Leone 2015

Read more about our work to reduce hunger

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