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Every second Sierra Leonean lacks access to vegetables and fruits making especially children vulnerable to ilnesses

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The meagre harvest is placed on cloths in the sun for the grains to dry. The majority of Sierra Leoneans lack a balanced diet consuming mostly rice.

In the year 2000, when Sierra Leone’s brutal civil war gradually started coming to an end, average life expectancy was at a dismal 39.7 years. Apart from the dilapidated health infrastructure, the poor food supply and nutritional situation are the major cause for the poor life expectancy. The lack of a balanced diet makes children especially vulnerable to illnesses. On the Global Hunger Index which measures the incidence and consequences of hunger, the nutritional situation in Sierra Leone is listed as “alarming”. Aside from hunger which approximately 600,000 Sierra Leoneans are affected by, malnutrition is especially widespread. 3.5 million people – that is roughly half of the population of Sierra Leone – are malnourished. They have a very unbalanced diet often having only access to rice, cassava or palm oil and lacking most other foodstuffs. By providing seeds for fruits and vegetable farming, GreenRise enables farmers to take better care of their families’ nutrition.  

Health Care and Hygiene

Approximately 2 million Sierra Leoneans lack access to safe drinking water.

GreenRise co-founder, Robin Biener, visits well project in Masherie Thenkel, Northwestern Sierra Leone

Sierra Leonean health infrastructure is severely underdeveloped and unreliable. Even the hospitals in the bigger cities are very poorly equipped and lack even most basic medical facilities. One of the hospitals the GreenRise team visited on a field trip in spring `18 ran out of painkillers and anaesthetics leaving doctors no choice but to operate patients without prior anaesthesia. In the countryside, the situation is often even worse with health stations lacking access to running water and electricity. Mothers seeking medical treatment for their children suffering from illnesses such as malaria or diarrhoea need to cover large distances by foot. Both deseases are potentially lethal in Sierra Leone. Hygiene and sanitation standards are among the worst in the world. Approximately 2 million Sierra Leoneans lack access to safe drinking water. As in the countryside, only 1 per cent of households have access to tap water in their houses, the great majority of people obtain their drinking water from ponds, rivers and lakes. In the evenings, entire villages wash their laundry, drink from and shower and cook with the same water of one pond.

Ebola Crisis

The Ebola crisis claimed 4,000 lives and exacerbated poverty and food security in rural areas


During the Ebola crisis, many farmers were put into quarantine making them unable to harvest and sell their produce on local markets. 

In 2015, the poor health infrastructure and hygiene led to a severe outbreak of Ebola which claimed the lives of approximately 4,000 people. Tragically, hundreds of doctors got infected with Ebola upon treatment of their patients, many of which also died from the consequences of the virus. Yet, Ebola affected Sierra Leone far beyond the number of lives it claimed due to the nationwide quarantines which were set in place to stop the further spreading of the virus. Hundreds of thousands of people were forbidden to leave their huts and houses. Thus, many smallholder farmers were forced to wait and see in their villages while their crops perished on the fields. This resulted in a further worsening of food security and increased poverty.

Yet, the Ebola crisis has also brought about positive change in that it increased awareness for the importance of hygiene and cleanliness. New laws prescribe hygiene standards for latrines, road signs now point to the importance of regular hand-washing and nationwide clean-up campaigns were set in place. Every 4th Sunday of the month Sierra Leoneans - whether farmer, petty trader, nurse or a teacher – unite in the streets to collect residues and clean their environment. The usually stuffy and smoggy Freetown – Sierra Leone’s capital – is finally able to breathe some fresh air. The hope and will of Sierra Leoneans to strive for a better future seems unbreakable. In Sierra Leone, the only way is forward.

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