Salesians of Don Bosco West Africa Province

Salesians of Don Bosco West Africa Province

Sierra Leone

The “Lion Mountain” Sierra Leone is situated on the west coast of Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Guinea and Liberia. It has a tropical climate with two distinct seasons: a dry season which starts in November and ends in April and a rainy season that starts in May and ends in October. It lands area cover approximately 71,740 square, km, about 28,000 square miles.

 

DON BOSCO DEVELOPMENT WORKS AND ACTIVITIES IN SIERRA LEONE

Education

  • 3 Pre-Schools for 294 pupils per annum/yearly.
  • 6 Primary Schools for 2,767 pupils per annum/yearly.
  • 2 Junior Secondary Schools for 904 pupils per annum/yearly.
  • 1 Senior Secondary School for 880 pupils per annum/yearly.
  • Total Beneficiaries – 4,845 (2,433 males and 2,412 females).

Assistance to Youth at Risk

  • 1 Street work programme providing learning materials, health care, food and nutrition. In 2015, 75 street children recorded and provided with several assistance to improve their livelihood. This special street work programme is being managed by 5 SDB’s, 70 lay workers and 2 volunteers.
  • 1 Don Bosco Mobile Programme reaching out yearly to over 750 children and young people exposed to high risk, sexual abuse, child labour, etc. The programme is managed by 5 SDB’s, 10 lay workers and 2 Volunteers.
  • 1 Child Protection Centre providing shelter/accommodation, food, health care, counseling and formal education to children and youth exposed to high risk. The Centre enrolls yearly an average of 220 street children and children exposed to risk. The Centre is managed by 5 SDB’s, 7 lay workers and 2 Volunteers.
  • In 2015, the Centre enrolled 215 beneficiaries for rehabilitation and reintegration (135 males and 80 female).

Social and Pastoral Works

  • 2 Oratory and Youth Centres for 565 participants.
  • Total Participants are 565 Youngsters (358 males and 207 females) daily.
  • 2 Parishes with about 1,500 faithful managed and supported by 7 SDB’s and 46 lay workers.
  • 3 Mission – Outstations with about 300 faithful managed by 2 SDB’s and 40 lay workers.

Vocation

  • 1 Aspirantate Centre.
  • 1 SDB Specialization.

COUNTRY PROFILE

HABITANT: The estimated population is approximately 5.6 million people with annual population growth of 2.4 (World Bank, 2009). Out of the 5.600.000 people in Sierra Leone, around 50.9% is the male population, while the female population is around 49.1%. The Country has a fairly high population growth rate of 2.2%. The total number of births in the year (2014) was approximately 586,361.

Sierra Leone remains among the world’s poorest countries, ranking 180th. out of 187 countries in the Human Development Index in 2011. Decades of economic decline and 11 years of armed conflict had dramatic consequences on the economy. Poverty remains widespread with more than 60% of the population living on less than US$ 1.25 a day and unemployment and literacy levels remain high particularly among youth. However Sierra Leone has made considerable progress since the end of the civil war in 2002.

LANGUAGE: Sierra Leone is a multi-lingual country with 25 languages. English is the facto official language spoken in schools, government administrations, and the media, krio is the most widely spoken as a lingua franca in virtually all parts of Sierra Leone. Krio an English-based creole language is the mother toungue of 10.5% of the population, but is spoken by 90% of Sierra Leoneans. Other major languages include mende, which is spoken by 29.5% of the population in southern Sierra Leone and temne which is spoken by 24.7 % in the northen Sierra Leone. Other languages include, kono, kissi, kuranko, fula (pular), and soso. (Wikipedia, accessed 23rd June, 2015, 9:20 am).

POPULATION: (UNDP July 2014 est.): 6.391 million.

LITERACY RATE: 48.1%.

UNEMPLOYMENT RATE: (CIA World Book of Facts 2011 est.): 23.9%.

POVERTY: Sierra Leone remains among the world’s poorest countries, ranking 180th out of 187 countries in the Human Development Index in 2011. Decades of economic decline and 11 years of armed conflict had dramatic consequences on the economy. Poverty remains widespread with more than 60% of the population living on less than US$ 1.25 a day and unemployment and illiteracy levels remain high, particularly among youth. However, Sierra Leone has made considerable progress since the end of the civil war in 2002, consolidating peace, democracy and improving development indicators amid rising rates of economic growth.

ECONOMY/GDP: Sierra Leone is extremely poor. Nearly half of the working-age population engages in subsistence agriculture. The country possesses substantial mineral, agricultural, and fishery resources, but it is still recovering from a civil war that ended in the early 2000s that destroyed most institutions. In recent years economic growth has been driven by mining - particularly of iron ore and oil exploration. The country exports rutile, diamonds, and bauxite, and is vulnerable to fluctuations in international commodity prices. The country relies on external assistance to meet its budgetary needs; overseas grants make up one-fourth of total revenue. Corruption is a hindrance to foreign investment, although from 2011 to 2012 the country’s Anti- Corruption Commission increased convictions of high-level officials from nine to 22 and recovered millions of dollars. In December 2013, the US Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) did not hold a vote on the reselection of Sierra Leone because the country did not pass MCC’s Scorecard Corruption indicator; however, MCC continues compact development through a more limited engagement. The Gross Domestic product (GDP) – Real growth rate (CIA World Factbook 2014 est.): 6%.

INFLATION: (CIA World Fact-book 2014 est.): 8.3%.

HUMAN DEVELOPMENT INDEX: (UNDP 2013 est.): 0.374 Ranking 183rd.

ECONOMIC ACTIVITIES: Agriculture, Industry and Service.

AGRICULTURE: The agricultural sector is the backbone of Sierra Leones economy. Nearly 2/3 of the population depends on the sector for its livelihood. The crops sub sector dominates the agricultural GDP with 33% in 2010. The major food crops in Sierra Leone are rice, cassava, maize, millet, sweet potato, groundnut, and sorghum. Rice is the most important crop cultivated by nearly 85% of farmers while cassava is the 2nd most important crop. The tubers and leaves are consumed by households and the cassava product like garri and flour are in high demand in urban areas. Oil palm is the main tree crop. Cocoa, coffee, coconut are perennial crops. Rice and cassava contributed 15 and 6 percent respectively to the agricultural GDP in 2010.

EDUCATION: Over the years the system of education in Sierra Leone with its irrelevant curriculum and structure resulted in high rate of wastage and increase in illiteracy. Of the nearly 80% of the illiteracy population, illiteracy rate by gender in 1998 was 77% for women and 65% for men. Adults literacy rate ( of age 15 and above) was 36% (UNDP report 1998). Coupled with these problems are the historical instability that characterizes the political system of the country, corruption, and mismanagement of resources and above all the decade war. During the war, economic activity of the country was brought to standstill resulting in enormous socio-economic difficulties. The result is a dramatic increase in the number of marginalized groups including women, girls and children.

Sierra Leone has added an extra year to the secondary school education of system from 2013; as a matter of fact Sierra Leone now operates on the 6-3-4-4 model of education. The main cause of this is the very unsatisfactory performance of sierra Leonean students in the West African Examinations Council Senior Secondary examinations. Extending the school year means that students in Sierra Leone spend; 

  • 6 years in primary school.
  • 3 years in junior secondary school.
  • 4 years in senior secondary school.
  •  4 years in tertiary education.
  • The reasons advance for this extension of the school year areit will boast performance and give students more contact time with their teachers by increasing the school day from 4 to 7 hours.

HEALTH: A majority of the causes of illness and death in Sierra Leone are preventable, with most death attributable to nutritional deficiencies, pneumonia, anemia, malaria, tuberculosis and now HIV/AIDS. With the introduction of the free health care services for under five children, pregnant women, and lactating mothers these prevailing figures are expected to be reduced. Annual estimated number of HIV infection is 6,000 and AIDS related death is 3,500 (UNAIDS, 2010). Health care costs remain very high, resulting in poor utilization (on average 0.5 visits per person, per year). A review commissioned by the ministry of Health in 2007 established that even modest charges tended to exclude over 50% of the population from seeking health care.

Ebola outbreak; in late 2013, the Ebola virus was diagnosed in the forest region of Guinea. By mid-2014, it had spread alarmingly in the countries of the Mano River Basin – Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. By the time it was declared a global health emergency by the World Health Organization (WHO) in August 2014, at least 1 711 people were infected and 932 people had died from the virus.

The Ebola virus was an alien phenomenon among both healthcare workers and ordinary people, and the affected countries lacked the capacity to respond effectively. The lack of proper response mechanisms at the beginning of the outbreak enabled the virus to spread rapidly, with a 90% fatality rate among the population, leaving citizens – mostly those in densely populated slum communities – in despair and desperation. What became further at risk was the stability of the three countries, two of which – Liberia and Sierra Leone – were still recovering from civil conflicts that had ended a decade earlier. While the crisis was largely health-based, it gravely affected political and security situations, leading observers to predict collapse, violence and a possible return to war.

Under what prevailing socio-economic conditions did the epidemic spread, and how did it pose political and security threats to the affected countries? How did the governments and their international partners respond to the crisis? How did the epidemic and response mechanisms lead to political and social tensions? With evidence from Liberia, this article explores these questions and advances some recommendations for promoting stability, with a focus on human security.

INSTITUTIONS: The government of Sierra Leone is the governing authority of the Republic of Sierra Leone, as established by the Sierra Leone Constitution. The Sierra Leone government is divided into three branches: the executive, legislative and the judicial. The seat of government of Sierra Leone is in the capital Freetown. The government of Sierra Leone takes place in a framework of a presidential representative democratic republic, whereby the President of Sierra Leone is both head of state and head of government, and of a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the president. Legislative power is vested in by the Parliament of Sierra Leone.

The judiciary of Sierra Leone is independent of the executive and the legislature. Civil rights and freedom of religion are respected. A critical press continues to operate, although the government has intervened for alleged inaccurate reporting, using the 1965 Public Order Act which criminalizes libel.

CHILDREN: Most Sierra Leonean children are denied basic rights like food, shelter, education, health facilities and security. A child right act was made in 2007 to safe guard the rights of children. In the area of literacy, only 30% of the population over age 15 years in Sierra Leone is literate. The literate population includes those who are reported to read easily or with difficulty. The literacy rate is 69% in the western region while regional rates are generally lower outside the western region. In the area of infant mortality, the rates reported in Sierra Leone are extremely high and that bring to light the need to add efforts on combating mortality among children in Sierra Leone. The IMR (infant mortality rate) is the probability of dying before the first birthday. The under 5 mortality rate is the probability of dying before the fifth birthday. The infant mortality rate is rated at 170 per 1000 births and the under5 mortality rate at 286 per 1000 births.

EMERGENCY: Sierra Leone experienced the outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease in April/ May 2014. The world health organization was notified on May 25th 2014. Information received from the field indicates that 1 laboratory confirm case and 5 community deaths had been Reported from koindu chiefdom. This chiefdom shares a border with the Gueckedou in Guinea. At the beginning of the outbreak in Guinea Liberia the events was graded as a level two based on the emergency response framework ( ERF). The director general then took the decision based on ongoing severity of the outbreak and a report of a case travelling from Liberia to Nigeria, to regard the outbreak as a level three. Since then the lives of thousands of people, women and children inclusive have been lost.

RELIGION: Islam is the largest religion in Sierra Leone, with significant Christian and animist minorities. According to a 2015 estimate from the Pew Research Centre, 78.0% of the population is Muslim, 20.9% is Christian, while the rest of the population is either animist or follows other religious beliefs. While this estimate is based on census data, a similar estimate was derived from a recent major household survey: in the 2013 Demographic and Health Survey, 78.2% of respondents were Muslim and 21.2% Christian.

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