Sierra Leone

Community volunteer leads a group workshop with women in her community. Through the workshop women learn about disease and sanitation, how to care for their children when they're sick and what measures to take to prevent the spread of disease. Credit: Tommy Trenchard/ Oxfam

With a population reaching almost 7.5 million people, Sierra Leone ranks 140 among 189 countries on the Human Development Index (HDI) of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Sierra Leone was the second-worst performer in West Africa in terms of its government’s commitment to funding public education, healthcare, and social protection.

The low levels of commitment may be changing for the better as the current government is in the process of driving up the collection of tax revenues to boost social spending and has increased support towards education including promises to make primary and secondary education free. 

Oxfam in Sierra Leone

Oxfam started operations in Sierra Leone in 1998, with relief work focused on emergency water, sanitation and hygiene provision in the context of the civil war that was ongoing at the time. Since 2004, we have shifted our program towards a more development-orientated approach working in both urban and rural areas. Our work focuses on good governance, gender equality, energy, food security and livelihoods, education, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH). We work with partners and support programming across Sierra Leone particularly in relation to our national influencing and policy work. In addition, we respond to emergency situations when they occur, such as the 2012 cholera outbreak, the 2014 Ebola Virus Disease outbreak, the 2017 mudslide disaster in Freetown and the 2019 flash floods in Freetown.  

Oxfam’s vision for Sierra Leone is “A just, inclusive and resilient Sierra Leone without poverty, in which citizens, particularly women and youth demand and acquire equal access to their rights and live a life of dignity.”

Promoting economic and gender justice

Oxfam is committed to promoting the political, social and economic empowerment of women and youths at all levels. We have worked with Woman’s Rights Organization to support women to join elective politics. We are leading the implementation of two grants focused on improving the livelihoods of women and youth, and the diversification of crops and livestock production. We also empower citizens especially youth and women to influence policy and structural changes including working towards ensuring that domestic resources (tax and extractive revenues) are increasingly managed transparently and redistributed equitably by the government.

Addressing inequalities through enhancing access to essential services

Oxfam and its partners address inequalities through enhancing access to quality essential services in education, WASH and renewable energy for poor and marginalized communities. We are implementing a rural WASH project in two districts; this project supports communal water points and promotion of household hygiene and sanitation in targeted communities.  

We successfully piloted and scaled the Tiger Worm Toilets Project which contributed to the prevention of communicable diseases through improved sanitation and hygiene practices. This project addressed major concerns such as the absence of a sewerage system and unsafe human waste disposal. 

Humanitarian preparedness, response and resilience 

Sierra Leone has faced several humanitarian emergencies in the past. These include cholera, Ebola Virus disease outbreak, flooding and mudslide. Oxfam has worked with the Government of Sierra Leone, peer organizations, civil society organizations and donor agencies to support the affected citizens by providing much needed relief, rehabilitation and recovery support. 

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