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Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone

Why Sierra Leone? High poverty rates and vulnerable to natural disasters. In 2020, it ranked 182 out of 189 countries in the Human Development Index.

We have been working in Sierra Leone since 1996 and are currently operate primarily in four districts: Port Loko, Tonkolili and Western Area Rural and Western Area Urban (Freetown), with a smaller presence in five others. Our approach aims to tackle all dimensions of poverty, focusing on health, primary education, rural livelihoods and responding to emergencies. We fully integrate equality in all our work, with an emphasis on gender transformation. 

Sierra Leone is facing significant challenges

The effects of COVID-19

Although official cases of COVID-19 in Sierra Leone have been relatively low and the health system has been able to cope, the country experienced severe secondary impacts with rising food insecurity, increased vulnerability of children to malnutrition, and increasing rates of gender-based violence. High price inflation and continued currency devaluation persist in Sierra Leone, with a struggling economy highly dependent on global factors.

Maternal mortality rates

Sierra Leone has one of the world’s highest maternal mortality rates at 796 per 100,000 live births in 2019 and a very high level of teenage pregnancies – an estimated 45% of girls aged 19 are pregnant or already given birth (DHS, 2019). Concern is supporting the Ministry of Health & Sanitation to strengthen the quality and access to reproductive, maternal, neonatal, child and adolescent health (RMNCAH) services, especially in the FCDO-funded consortium led by IRC – Saving Lives in Sierra Leone project. We are also working with adolescents in Tonkolili District on sexual & reproductive health.


Concern responds to emergencies in all areas of Sierra Leone – mainly flooding, fire outbreaks in congested urban areas, and infectious disease outbreaks.

Concern staff at fire in Sierra Leone
Concern Worldwide staff and NDMA, Kolleh Town, Western Area Urban, Cash distribution for fire victims. Photo: Charlotte Woellwarth/Concern Worldwide

Latest achievements


Improved household food and nutrition security

Vulnerable farmers in Tonkolili District received training in sustainable rice production and increasing food production using climate smart approaches, establishing seed banks, diet diversity and natural resource management as part of our integrated Irish Aid programme. This has improved food and nutrition security in households, reduced post-harvest losses, and helped people cope with continuing food insecurity.


Emergency response


Adolescent sexual and reproductive health

Concern has shifted its approach from purely working with women on issues of gender inequality to a broader focus working also with men to help them reflect and change their behaviour and attitudes. We are seeing great results in this regard from our ‘Living Peace’ initiative with couples and the wider community.

Austin Kennan - Country director, Sierra Leone
Three women with masks holding vaccination certs
Louizer Kamara with CWW SLiSL DDM at Cline Town Ross Road CHC. EU ECHO vaccination for Forabay Wharf community. Photo by Charlotte Woellwarth/Concern Worldwide
Man in Concern t-shirt pointing at whiteboard
Isaac Gahungu, Livelihood Coordinator. Photo: Concern Worldwide
Smiling woman peeling vegetables over bowl
Mariatu Turay received a vaccination, Forabay Wharf community. Photo by Charlotte Woellwarth/Concern Worldwide
Woman receiving vaccination
Mbalu Dumbuya receiving a vaccination at DHMT Cline Town. Photo: Charlotte Woellwarth/Concern Worldwide
Schoolboys holding up hands
MCA Primary Mamuntha Mayossoh GPE Project. Photo: Charlotte Woellwarth/Concern Worldwide

How we're helping in Sierra Leone

We are working hard to combat suffering and build resilience in Sierra Leone. Our programmes focus on humanitarian response, livelihoods, health, education and gender equality. 

Saving lives

The 'Saving Lives in Sierra Leone' programme is organised by Concern and a consortium of six NGOs led by IRC. It aims to save women and children’s lives by improving the quality, availability and accessibility of reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health (RMNCH) services.

Phase one of this programme focused on increasing access to preventative services (including family planning, water, sanitation and long lasting insecticide treated bed-nets) and improving service quality.

The current phase builds on the gains of the first phase and will increase equitable access to the improved RMNCH services, whilst strengthening priority health systems for more sustainable service delivery.


COVID-19 response

Agriculture and other rural livelihoods

People gather with jerrycans and other containers to collect water from a tanker cistern in Deir el-Balah in the central Gaza Strip

Gaza Emergency Appeal

  • 1.9 million people displaced

  • 2.2 million people in need of humanitarian assistance

  • People need nutrition support, medical assistance, and water, sanitation and hygiene services

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