With a Human Development Index of 0.477, ranking 181st of 195 countries, Sierra Leone is in the lowest human development category. Despite its large mineral resources, especially diamonds (it’s among the top ten world diamond producers), almost 60% of Sierra Leoneans live in poverty.
Since private capital dominates mining and banking, the benefits of mining production are almost invisible to most people. More than three-fifths of the population engage in agricultural production, primarily for the domestic market with very few quantities for export.
Thus, land security and protection are key development issues in Sierra Leone. Natural forests cover more than a third of the country, but the unregulated timber market is quickly destroying them. Foreign companies are profiting from this and have acquired more lands and deforested areas, displacing small farmers and interfering with their legitimate right to land.
The population of Sierra Leone developed resilience in overcoming the civil war of the 1990s and the 2014 Ebola virus crisis. One response of Sierra Leoneans has been increasing social solidarity among grassroots organisations. Development and Peace – Caritas Canada supports civil society organizations (CSOs) in their efforts to achieve more transparency regarding mining revenues, to protect small farmers’ land rights and to include disabled people (victims of war).
Development and Peace – Caritas Canada’s main objective is to reinforce social movements that work on:
Our support is delivered through capacity-building, participatory assessments and planning, exchanges among grassroots movements, and regional advocacy.
Women’s rights is a key area in all our projects in Sierra Leone; 90% of the target population of our projects are women.
Development and Peace – Caritas Canada will reinforce civil society organizations (CSOs) strategies by providing technical and financial support. We’ll focus on developing political and economic analysis, building skills for national and international negotiation, and seeking synergies among COSs for grassroots mobilization.