FAO in Sierra Leone

Programmes and projects

Considering the role the agricultural domain plays for most of the rural and many urban livelihoods in Sierra Leone and their reliance on food security support and rural services, FAO’s mandate and work in Sierra Leone directly contributes four United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) outcomes: (1) Economic Diversification to Promote Inclusive Growth; (2) Managing Natural Resources; (3) Accelerating Human Development and (4) Strengthen Social Protection Systems.

FAO’s major contributions under this CPF focus on the following GoSL priorities, which are critical for agricultural inclusive growth, sustainable use of natural resources and reduced vulnerability, building the foundations for agricultural transformation and equitable and sustainable economic growth.

Priority Area 1. Increased productivity along the food system value chain, improved livelihoods and nutrition outcomes through food and nutrition security and responsible agribusiness development

Sierra Leone has highest potential for agricultural production and productivity and in fostering agricultural transformation while at the same time ensuring Food and Nutrition Security.

To achieve that, there is the need for strengthening and complementing existing efforts of government and partners to: i) further develop human and institutional capacity to respond to the demands of an increasingly challenging and diverse commercial environment, enhance transfer of available relevant agricultural knowledge and skills, increase organizational capacity for value addition and access to markets, and lack of access to relevant information; and ii) to build up governance of Food and Nutrition Security in order to offer tailored services to different population groups with diverse needs and aspirations and for agriculture to find its role in the multifaceted issue of malnutrition.

FAO will continue to support the government’s Inclusive and Comprehensive Agriculture Development Programme (ICADEP) to meet these challenges and enable the transformation of the agriculture sector and boost employment opportunities.

Moreover, FAO’ technical assistance will focus on the promotion of small, medium and large scale agribusinesses and selected commodities, and on improving Food and Nutrition security and by simulating inter-sectoral approaches to malnutrition and promote food safety. In its programming FAO will seek to employ a rights-based perspective while at the same time design gender sensitive approaches.

Priority Area 2. Responsible governance and management of natural resources

The natural resource base and ecosystem services are the foundation for agriculture. Sierra Leone has abundant natural resources available which in recent years are increasingly coming under pressure. At the same time large scale investments in agriculture have profound economic and social effects on smallholder farmers and communities. Hence, policies and institutions for governance of natural resources in Sierra Leone need a clear framework and directions.

Additionally specialist capacities in the land, fisheries and forest sectors need to be further developed in order to be up to the task of effectively governing these natural resources in a sustainable manner. The effects of climate change are evident in Sierra Leone but relatively new on the agenda of development partners in the country. Distinctive expertise in Ministries and agencies is needed; meanwhile sustainable practices have to be adequately promoted in strategies and programmes.

Within the domain of natural resources, FAO will support the Government and its partners in two main areas. First, FAO will promote innovative approaches for sustainable agriculture, natural resource management and climate change resilience in the context of national food security. Thereby FAO will put emphasis on enhancing the knowledge base for climate-smart agriculture, foster adaptation processes to climate change and work towards the improvement of soil fertility (e.g. by promoting sustainable agroforestry, organic agriculture, land use mapping and collaboration with research institutions such as SLARI).

Secondly, FAO will strengthen the policy enabling environment, governance mechanisms and advocacy for the land, fishery and forest sectors, e.g. through the implementation and promotion of The Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security (VGGT). In promoting practicable governance arrangements FAO will seek to bring together different interest groups and advocate for improved access to natural resources for vulnerable groups (e.g. women).

Priority Area 3. Increased resilience of livelihoods to threats and crisis

The fear of disease infection, natural and climate change related disasters and man-made disasters are looming in the country given recent experiences of the Ebola crisis and the floods in different parts of the country. The recurrence of disasters and crises undermines Sierra Leone’s efforts to eradicate hunger and malnutrition and to achieve sustainable development. Apart from destroying lives and properties, they threaten livelihoods, diminish people’s potential to empower themselves and engage in long term investments that will lift them out of poverty.

Together with MAFFS, FAO has established and qualified an Early Warning System and will continue its engagement in capacity development for monitoring of FNS at district level and consolidating of sentinel sites. Additionally, FAO will reinforce the capacities of meteorological departments to allow for better forecasting of rainfalls. And thus contribute to a better systematic and regular monitoring of food and nutrition security situations.

Coordination between different structures will be increased and close collaboration will be reinforced with the Office of National Security (ONS) to support national disaster response. Sierra Leone’s Office for National Security (ONS) is currently establishing itself at district levels, but is lacking a clear direction and technical expertise in the areas that FAO is working. Another area of FAO’s involvement will be setting up of contingency and response mechanisms, such as grain reserve. FAO will further work closely with District Councils to budget and plan disaster response.

Priority Area 4. Support Social Protection interventions for vulnerable households and communities

If vulnerable populations do not have access to a functional safety net, they will fall in a downward spiral of poverty in case shocks or negative trends affect their livelihoods. In Sierra Leone, basic social services are very limited, not accessible or do not meet the requirements of especially (rural) women, deprived rural and urban youths and also for a huge amount of EVD survivors or families that were devastated by EVD. To meet pressure on their meagre resources they will revert to sell (productive) assets, take children out of school, thus eliminating their livelihood’s ability to recover. Access to services tailored for specific groups in the domain of agriculture and food security can build a crucial bridge between short-term relief (in case of crises) and longer term development.

FAO will target vulnerable of society (EVD survivors, women / adolescent girls, aged people), define interest and define programs that can positively impact food production, rural employment and poverty reduction. One focus will be on the increasingly growing urban population. FAO will foster synergies between the different partners and engage in social protection programs and schemes in order to overcome short term shocks in food and nutrition security and linking those to longer term agricultural development.