Christian Aid’s Sierra Leone programme started in 1988 with a focus on service delivery and humanitarian assistance. Since the civil war ended in 2002, Christian Aid’s work has had a greater emphasis on building the capacity of local partners to challenge the systems and structures that perpetuate poverty and inequality.
We also work on HIV, livelihoods and resolving conflict.
We work with organisations at all levels across the country, especially in the southern, eastern and western areas where we have been working for more than two decades. We have partners in very remote areas where few international non-governmental organisations (INGOs) operate, due to the difficult terrain.
Our work in Sierra Leone focuses on governance, health and sustainable livelihoods. For a decade, the major thrust of our work has been promoting more accountable governance.
Through the formation and strengthening of civil society organisations (CSOs), networks and coalitions, we have worked to influence government policies on public financial management, tax, natural resources and leadership reform.
We have empowered communities to take the lead in their own development and built partnerships with local and international NGOs, which will be important in achieving our objectives under our Sierra Leone country strategy (PDF).
- Support poor and marginalised groups, especially women, to participate in governance and decision-making.
- Use research on land grabbing, mining, tax, chiefdom-governance reform and budgets to push for transparency and accountability.
- Help build the capacity of people living with HIV to demand rights and services, and scale up our HIV work into broader community health – malaria, tuberculosis and mother and child health.
- Strengthen the capacity of partners and communities to claim health rights and demand better health services, particularly for rural women and children.
- Establish links with the private sector, faith-based institutions, civil society and the media to support initiatives that improve the provision of health information for rural communities.
- Promote initiatives to ensure food-secure households.
- Develop the resilience and emergency preparedness of smallholders, support them to influence decision-making on national agricultural policies, and strengthen their capacity to engage with markets to increase incomes.
- Promote pilot projects that explore equitable access and renewable energy.
'I also thought [after surviving Ebola], I should not be bothered about HIV. I have learnt a lot about HIV and I now know that everyone is at risk. I have taken the bold step to go for an HIV test and I have also taken my partner.'
- Ebola survivor, 27, in Pujehun District.
Our work with CSO coalitions and networks contributes more effectively to facilitating citizen participation in national, regional and district level dialogue and decisions on issues that affect their lives
We also play a part in the coordinated and comprehensive national HIV response. We are using our experience in HIV programming to explore whether a lack of engagement of Key Populations might be a critical block to achieving zero new HIV infections in Sierra Leone by 2020.
'We can work amicably with people living with HIV and AIDS to fight stigma. I have suffered from stigma at different points of my life – as a commercial sex worker and then as an Ebola survivor. I have now joined the fight against stigma.'
- Anti-stigma ambassador, Makeni.
Infographics provide vital feedback
The SABI programme has developed more than 3,600 ‘handmade’ infographics to present vital data about essential services to communities where literacy is low.
SABI carried out a nationwide citizen perception survey to get an accurate picture of services on the ground.
Young volunteers, coordinated by partner Restless Development, used smartphones to gather community views and experiences of accessing services.
Campaign for good governance
With Christian Aid’s support, our partner Campaign for Good Governance has mobilised over 150 civil society organisations (CSOs) to take part in the country’s constitutional review process and ensured their recommendations have been properly considered.
We have supported Action for Large-scale Land Acquisition Transparency (ALLAT) through our partner Green Scenery with advocacy, resource mobilisation and facilitation skills, enabling ALLAT to be established as an independent network. Green Scenery has been instrumental in building the capacity of ALLAT members, journalists and community-based organisations; advocating for community tenure rights; and supporting local community groups advocating for community tenure, especially women.
Our partner Budget Advocacy Network has played a key role in the passing of the Public Financial Management (PFM) Act 2016 and the 2016 Finance Act. Both laws make provision for more disclosure of information around issues of public finances, which can be used to hold government ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) accountable. For the first time in the history of Sierra Leone the revenue proposals in the 2015 and 2016 budget speeches were tracked, in a bid to hold government accountable for revenue proposals approved in Parliament.
The strengthening of local health systems has been a major priority in the National Ebola recovery plan and Christian Aid has supported this in six districts. Our focus has been on the rehabilitation of peripheral health units (PHUs), the installation of solar energy and WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene). Christian Aid has also supported district health and management teams to address supply chain and logistics challenges in the health system, which has also been a priority for the Government.
Since 2003, Christian Aid Sierra Leone has been receiving funding from Irish Aid to strengthen citizens’ capacity and opportunities. The project aims to transform public policy making and natural resource governance, so it is more in the people’s interests. We particularly work on inequality issues around land rights, mining, oil and gas, access to basic services, and tax justice, and to ensure civil society space is maintained or widened.
The project has recently been extended for four more years until 2020. In this post-Ebola recovery period and beyond Christian Aid Sierra Leone will implement, through its five partners, activities that will deliver change on all three of Irish Aid’s objectives – accountable governance, tackling violence and building peace, and gender.
The Start Network Fund has supported health logistics in nine districts, complementing government efforts to fight the Ebola outbreak as well as raising community awareness about the disease.
Promoting Sustainable Environmental Governance through Innovative Partnerships
This European Commission-funded project provides information on the environment and climate change to people in 14 districts. This nurtures a better understanding of the link between individual actions and the impact on the environment and the changing climate. This project reaches close to four million Sierra Leoneans with various messages on the environment and climate change, using radio, social media, community dialogue sessions and school activities.
Zochonis Charitable Trust
Ebola exposed the weakness of the health system in Sierra Leone and reversed several years of positive progress in improving health systems and services in the country, particularly around maternal and child health, HIV and malaria.
Working with our partners in Kono and Kailahun districts, this three-year project seeks to address the extensive need for improved service delivery in rural areas. We recognise that there is a need to not just increase demand for health services, but also to ensure that local health services can meet the increased demand.
This three-year grant will focus on increasing demand for health services and improving government accountability in Pujehun district. Rebuilding trust between communities and health professionals and returning health services to pre-Ebola levels will entail ensuring that community health posts are resourced to provide quality service delivery.
Early Recovery – Rehabilitation Phase
The Rehabilitation Phase of Christian Aid’s response to Ebola in Sierra Leone will continue until December 2017. The goal is to support health promotion, strengthen local capacity of PHUs rehabilitated under our emergency appeal and advocate for the quality and accessibility of the health system for men, women, young people and children.
Communities will be supported to report health cases for earlier treatment, reducing morbidity and mortality of preventable diseases.
Sustainable Skills and Empowerment Project for Youth in Kono District – Turing Foundation
This project helps improve young peoples’ lives by providing quality vocational training, career opportunities and improved livelihood options in Kono District, eastern Sierra Leone. Two hundred and fifty youths will be equipped with basic knowledge and skills in entrepreneurship, small-scale business management, communication and partnership-building skills.