Ebola emergency

The World Food Programme's (WFP) Ebola response helps people affected by the virus outbreak in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, by delivering food and organising logistics alongside the health response. More information can be found on the Ebola emergency page.

More on Sierra Leone

Small but fairly densely populated (7 million people for 72,300 km square), Sierra Leone, on Africa’s Pacific Coast, ranks close to the bottom of the Human Development Index (181st out of 188). More than half of its people live in poverty. With the country reliant on farming, forestry and fishing for 50 percent of its GDP, climate change and deforestation are pressing concerns. Sierra Leone is rich in diamonds, gold and iron ore; another fifth of its GDP is derived from mining and quarrying. But a slump in demand and prices has led to mine closures and job losses, in a fresh blow to a nation still recovering from brutal conflict and a deadly outbreak of the Ebola virus.

Current issues in Sierra Leone

· Aftermath of the Ebola Virus Disease Outbreak (2014-2016)

In 2014, Sierra Leone was the country worst hit by the West African Ebola outbreak, with more than 14,000 cases and nearly 4,000 deaths. Two further cases (one of them post-mortem) were reported in January 2016, nearly three months after the outbreak was declared over. Although the long-term consequences of infection are still poorly understood, studies suggest health repercussions persist for at least two years after infection. Many survivors have had to cope not only with chronic health problems, but with prejudice and stigmatization that make it difficult to finding employment.

· Food Insecurity

Sierra Leone’s population is chronically food insecure. In the 2015 Global Hunger Index, the country scored an alarming 38.9. More than a fifth of the population was undernourished; nearly one in 10 children under five was found to suffer from wasting, and almost four in 10 from stunting. The under-five mortality rate was over 16 percent. Also in 2015, 43 percent of the population were severely food insecure, and a mere 15 percent food secure. The local production of rice, Sierra Leone’s main staple, was inadequate to satisfy national requirements.

· Malnutrition

Both under-nutrition and micronutrient deficiencies have contributed to chronic malnutrition. In 2014, a Standardized Monitoring Assessment and Relief in Transition (SMART) survey found the global acute child malnutrition rate was 4.7 percent; nearly 30 percent of under-fives were chronically malnourished. Malnutrition rates vary greatly between districts – for example, in Bombali and Tonkolili, severe acute malnutrition in under-fives was, respectively, around 2 and 1.5 times the national average, and had increased significantly since the last SMART survey in 2010. Malnourished children require special foods, including fortified blended food, that are inaccessible to many households.

Prevalence rates for non-iron-related anaemia are alarmingly high and poorly understood. Among pregnant women the rate is 70 percent, among non-pregnant women 45 percent, and among children under five 76 percent. The country now provides free health care for pregnant and nursing mothers, and for under-fives. This has increased access to healthcare and may help reduce the high maternal and infant mortality rates.

What the World Food Programme is doing in Sierra Leone

WFP’s work in Sierra Leone is currently focused on post-Ebola recovery and preparedness, and on food assistance for mothers and young children and people living with HIV. We are also helping farmers improve their yields and access markets through Purchase for Progress (P4P) programmes.

•    Ebola recovery

WFP is supporting national Ebola recovery efforts aimed at ‘building back better’ and overcoming the impacts of the outbreak. 
We aim to help meet the basic food and nutritional needs of vulnerable groups, such as Ebola orphans and survivors, and reintegrate them into their communities. Where new Ebola cases emerge, WFP provides food rations to those who require treatment and to families affected by quarantine measures.  

•    Food assistance

WFP provides Food by Prescription assistance to people living with HIV. The programme supplies those receiving antiretroviral drugs with the right nutritional support to tolerate and adhere to the therapy. 

WFP, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health & Sanitation, also implements a supplementary feeding programme for malnourished mothers and children aged 6-59 months. The programme treats moderate acute malnutrition and is helping expand the take-up of basic maternal and child health services. 

Separately, in 2016, WFP is resuming school feeding and asset creation. 

•    Purchase for Progress (P4P) 

In Sierra Leone, P4P aims to increase the production capacity of smallholder farmers and enable them to access sustainable markets. Since P4P was piloted in 2009, WFP has been able to purchase from Sierra Leonean smallholder farmers 1,250 metric tons of locally grown food, including rice, gari-cassava and pigeon peas.

WFP has worked with 23 farmer-based organizations consisting of about 7,000 farmers, about 55 percent of whom have been women. (For more information, please see our factsheet Purchase for Progress – P4P, Sierra Leone >> http://documents.wfp.org/stellent/groups/public/documents/reports/wfp228...)

•    Emergency readiness and response 

Building on the infrastructure and logistics capacity established during the Ebola outbreak, WFP continues to support Government efforts to maintain response readiness for future emergencies. We are building the capacities of national Rapid Response Teams, prepared to provide logistics, engineering and IT support. 

World Food Programme partners in Sierra Leone

WFP cannot fight global hunger and poverty alone. These are our partners in Sierra Leone:

•    Catholic Relief Services (CRS) 
•    Childfund 
•    Concern Worldwide 
•    Cooperazione Internazionale
•    Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) 
•    Goal
•    Helen Keller International 
•    International Medical Corps (IMC) 
•    Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security (MAFFS) 
•    National Federation of Farmers of Sierra Leone (NFFSL) 
    Save the Children UK
•    Sierra Leone Agricultural Research Institute 
•    Welthungerhilfe  
•    World Vision Sierra Leone 

Featured Sierra Leone publications

Government of Japan: WFP Ebola recovery activities in Sierra Leone

  • Sierra Leone: WFP Country Brief (PDF, 339 KB)

    A Country Brief provides the latest snapshot of the country strategy, operations, operational highlights (achievements and issues/challenges), partnerships and country background.

Looking for more publications on Sierra Leone? Visit the Sierra Leone publications archive.