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

8.564726, -11.848755

With a population of approximately 6 million people, Sierra Leone is a country with high levels of poverty and deprivation. Despite its wealth of natural resources, 70% of its people live in poverty. Discrimination against women is widespread, and as a result women often struggle to influence the decisions that affect their lives.

Ten years after the end of the civil war, Sierra Leone is still rebuilding and requires substantial investment in water and sanitation.

  • Only 57 percent of Sierra Leoneans have access to safe drinking water, and
  • only 40 percent have access to a private or shared latrine, leaving the majority of people vulnerable to water-borne diseases. Sewage systems are extremely limited.

Oxfam in Sierra Leone

We have been working in Sierra Leone since 1998. Since 2004 our programme has moved away from provision of emergency relief towards a more development-orientated approach. We aim to enable people to make the most of post-war opportunities. The thrust of our programme has been on public health, women’s political empowerment and governance.

We focus on:

  • Improving public health through better access to sustainable, safe and sufficient water sanitation and hygiene services;
  • supporting the development of appropriate pro-poor water and sanitation policies, and modelling decentralised implementation through  good practice in Kailahun, Koinadugu and Freetown;
  • strengthening the capacity of women’s networks to raise awareness of women’s property and literacy rights, and to advocate for greater participation of women in decision-making on property ownership; and
  • promoting Local Governance through Female Political Empowerment.