CRS Work in Sierra Leone
The programs implemented by Catholic Relief Services and our partners in Sierra Leone are working to rebuild the country from the inside out. In a country as fragile as Sierra Leone, peacebuilding is crucial. This is a major focus for CRS. As infrastructure is rebuilt after the war, community health programs ensure the well-being of the people of Sierra Leone. CRS is investing in nutrition and health education for students. In a country where less than 10 percent of the land is available for cultivation, every acre counts. That's why CRS is working with women farmers in several districts to improve agricultural techniques.
Two-thirds of Sierra Leoneans are farmers, but many do not have the advantage of modern farming techniques. CRS Sierra Leone's agriculture projects empower communities, some of which are in hard-to- access areas, to improve the availability of food. CRS works with farming families to broaden their farming knowledge and business management skills, especially market analysis. Families then apply that knowledge to selling crops such as such as rice, cassava, vegetables, oil palm, coffee and cocoa. By helping people find markets for their goods and identifying ways for young people to earn a living, communities can stabilize and youth may choose to stay in towns instead of leaving for the cities.
While Sierra Leone's medical facilities are improving, the situation is still dire. For many Sierra Leoneans, health services are too expensive, forcing families to turn to traditional medicine and poorly trained health workers. CRS helps poor and vulnerable people access health care services, and encourages them to take greater responsibility for these services. In one CRS health program, the staff organizes immunizations for children under 5 years old and counsels mothers about feeding and caring for newborns. Through a local partner, CRS Sierra Leone teaches students to make positive choices in life, ranging from how to treat elders to avoiding conflicts.
CRS Sierra Leone supports a project of the West Africa Network for Peacebuilding that trains select community members to identify early warning signs of conflict, and to respond appropriately. In addition, CRS Sierra Leone supports the Diocese of Makeni’s Justice, Peace and Human Rights Commission in its efforts to help communities gain access to legal advice. The commission also trains local authorities responsible for dispensing justice.