Sierra Leone faces serious food crisis

Lawrence Williams: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 11 June 2021:

A recent study by the World Food Programme (WFP) says that over 4.7 million people out of a population of just over 7 million in Sierra Leone are food insecure. This means that 66 percent of the population cannot meet their basic food needs.

The study reveals that the number of people facing severe hunger in the country has tripled in the last decade and food insecurity has deepened at the same time the prices of rice and cassava have quadrupled.

The WFP’s Comprehensive Food Security and Vulnerability Analysis of the problem in Sierra Leone, published May 21 this year, was done to mainly identify the underlying causes and risk factors that result in food insecurity and the potential impact on the most vulnerable people in the country. The results of this study are meant to analyse the food situation of the country and plan sustainable interventions.

The report says over 3.3 million food-insecure people live in rural areas whilst 1.4 million are in urban areas.

A comparative analysis of the food security trend by districts shows an improved situation in the Western Area, where food insecurity declined by 7 percent, from 40 percent in 2010 to 33 percent in 2020, but the situation worsened in Kenema where food insecurity rose from 34 percent in 2010 to 71 percent in 2020.

Though food insecurity is widespread across Sierra Leone, Kenema, Kailahun, Bo, Pujehun and Tonkolili districts record the highest number of food-insecure people.

The reports says that food insecurity leads to malnutrition, and many Sierra Leoneans don’t have access to nutritionally diverse foods. This, according to the report, contributes to a high prevalence of severe malnourishment among children under five, with Moyamba, Falaba and Port Loko recording the highest rate of acute malnutrition.

Lending credence to the WFP report, the 2020 United Nations Country Annual Results Report based on the Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework between the Government of Sierra Leone and the UN System (comprised 21 UN agencies in Sierra Leone) says that Sierra Leone is one of the worst-performing countries in the world in terms of food security.

This report draws the government’s attention to the precarious state of food security in the country, as national food insecurity deteriorated from 47.7 percent in January 2020 to 63 percent in June the same year, and the situation is expected to deteriorate further in 2021, with an estimated 1.4 million people already facing a food crisis.

Sierra Leone relies heavily on imports to feed its people though agriculture is the main livelihood for most Sierra Leoneans.

WFP says agriculture in Sierra Leone is heavily labour intensive, and most farmers don’t have access to improved seeds, fertilisers and tools, leading to low agricultural production. This low level of agricultural production is exacerbated by low rainfall, the report states.

WFP notes that most farmers rely on imported food, including rice, and “only 2 percent of farmers produce enough rice to meet the needs of their family for the whole year”.

This indicates a low level of subsistence farming among farmers, leaving them to vulnerabilities and shocks during the lean season when access to food is reduced, or during times when global prices of food commodities increase, making imported foods more expensive.

Analysis of the two reports suggests that Sierra Leone achieving zero hunger by 2030, a key target of goal 2 of the Sustainable Development Goals, could be far-fetched.

The WFP recommends training for farmers on improved agricultural practices and the provision of improved seeds and fertilisers to increase food production and make agriculture economically viable as a livelihood for youths.

They also recommend that government should improve food access by strengthening markets and road networks; improve accessibility and affordability of diverse and nutritious foods; provide affordable solar energy that supports modernization; provide cold chain facilities to reduce post-harvest losses of vegetables and fish, and expand school feeding to the most vulnerable and deprived communities.

4 Comments

  1. I am certain that the recommendations do not hold in our environment. Think about adequate cold chain vs solar energy to prevent post harvest waste in Sierra Leone, a whole country. We really know that solar energy is not sustainable by all indications; 1. The initial cost is too high. 2. The equipment would not adequately last for over 2 years. That is why solar projects in Africa are white elephants. 3. It need lots and regular expensive maintenance due to the excessive heat. Etc.

    I think it’s time for Africa to be industrialised. These recommendations are limiting Africa in this direction. Africa must think about power generation at industrial scale and be industrialised to process our raw materials. We need civil nuclear plants, hydro plants, coal power plants etc.. the world needs renewable energy – yes, but now tell me, the industrialised nations that are producing the solar equipment have they moved their industries to solar energy. The answer is no, because it can not power their industries – period. So Africans must be aware about these things and plan a trajectory for Africans’ future.

  2. Ask me not to support the selfish endeavors of a cruel Wolf in State House that has created a statue of abject poverty in Sierra Leone and now erected it on a Pedestal defiantly on the mountains of debris left behind by mudslide victims on the muddy hills of our Sierra Leone, the only place on earth I am proud to call my home. Welcome to Sierra Leone where there is always some kind of bizarre struggling going on; A. struggle that always comes crashing like massive waves on the shores of Lumley beach; A never ending struggle covered with blood, sweat,and tears of exhaustion, against incurable diseases, injustice,bribery; Against starvation, corruption, rampant thefts,Police brutality and a dysfunctional, totally sold out Judiciary. Who wants to become rich in our beloved Sierra Leone through diligence and hard work? Sorry not Possible!

    Who is it that aspires to raise a healthy family? You? Sorry not quite possible in a. tiny land of Diamonds. Nope, not at all possible for your hungry poorly educated,malnourished children to become renowned experts,celebrated Engineers and Doctors with the skills to transform our nation into a little Paradise on Earth. Who still cannot afford three square meals a day ? Millions of you huh? Goodness gracious no one is spared of the wrath of that eerie Monster known as Hunger; This corrupt President has lifted the banners of disparity in incomes very high and parity of revenues among the affluent and the poor no longer exists; Who is it that voted for a shoe shine military boy that loves playing with toys to become President of Sierra Leone? You there – My Goodness what made you betray our poor,struggling country so recklessly? (lol)

  3. This is exactly what happens in a country that doesn’t have a sustainable plan for alleviating poverty; This lackadaisical underperforming SLPP government has completely failed the struggling people of Sierra Leone; Firstly they don’t have a plan for achieving success in all of their endeavors; Secondly,they don’t have their priorities in order; Thirdly, all of them are as delusional as timid cowardly sheep that think only about feeding themselves on fresh, juicy, green grass.(lol) 3 long years gone, since my little nephew was born and there is nothing to show for it; Truckloads of money that could have been used to financially strengthen the hands of our local farmers was used by the Wanna-be Cowboy wearing a shiny belt buckle and his wife to frivolously embark on fruitless escapades and foolhardy vacations abroad.

    Answer – Who thinks that all the money this President and his wife have gobbled thus far could not have been put. to work like. a slave on the lands of farmers? Millions of dollars that could have been used to create and build vital electricity and invaluable solar powered lightning systems, effective wind technology, and innovative water projects were flushed down the drains of unproductivity by Mr David Francis, JJ Saffa, Mr President and his Gold Digger.

    People are starving, kids are going to bed hungry and the elderly and disabled have been searching for food desperately like fowls scratching the ground furiously for a morsel to give to their hungry, little young ones. Hunger and starvation will always continue in Sierra Leone because our priorities are not in order; Who is it among you wretchedly poor, people that has ever seen a flabby looking Potbelly Old soldier that cares that your malnourished, depressed children are dying of hunger? (lol)

  4. Starvtion is the national anthem in sierra leone. Many children starved since long ago in this small and rich nation; unfortunately we are not lucky to enjoy our riches. But God is great; still protects us. He give us our bread; and also forgive those who tresspass against us. May God bless sierra leone. One day the bottom will be at the top.

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