Sierra Leone Poverty

It is estimated that over 70% of the population of Sierra Leone live in poverty, with the figure rising in rural areas. Many live on less than a dollar a day. There has always been poverty in Sierra Leone, even during the days when alluvial diamonds brought wealth into the country (below), but that wealth remained with the ruling political classes and little trickled down to its nation's citizens.

It was this grinding poverty that proved a fertile breeding ground for the dissent that erupted into a ten year long bloody civil war. A civil war that decimated already harsh farming conditions and disrupted education for an

entire generation leaving Sierra Leone today as probably the world's poorest country where life expectancy is around 56 years and over half the population illiterate.

About one half of the working population are engaged in subsistence farming, and, apart from light industry for internal markets, the country is dependent on foreign aid to meet the needs of its people, supplemented to some extent by its largest export of diamonds. Recent oil discoveries off the coast may help in the longer term, but probably not for many years ahead. Most young people are unemployed, or unemployable having been traumatised by the war, a chilling reminder that the activating agents for the war are still very evident.

Poverty in Sierra LeonePoverty in Sierra Leone in most evident in the north, south and east, the areas most affected by the war where, in some areas, over 80% of the population live on less than 60p a day. This financial poverty is compounded by poor access to adequate healthcare, education and nutritious food.

One of the effects of poverty in Sierra Leone is an inability to prevent the spread of malaria, as nets and insect repellents are an unaffordable luxury. Its a sad fact that catching and probably dying of malaria is an accepted fact of life in Sierra Leone with 40% of all under 5s being killed by the disease.




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Human Development Index Sierrea Leone

This video documentary provides an insight into living conditions for families living in poverty in one of the slums of Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone. It highlights one family packed into a tin shack with no running water nor sanitation facilities, and the head of the household is an employed police officer. Conditions there are reminiscent of those in Kibera in Kenya with children playing near sewage filled gutters.

Yet, it doesn't have to be like this. Many of the poor in Sierra Leone rue the waste and corruption within their country that has led to children having schools shut because they're teachers simply aren't paid. As one Sierra Leonean stated "we lack good initiatives as how to make use of the available resources. We have more several minerals, good soil for agriculture, pure water, and never experienced any serious natural disaster. If we are blessed with all these essentials of life why should we be referred to as poor?"

Human Development Index for Sierra Leone 1980 - Present

The HDI (Human Development Index) is measured by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) and the World Bank and is based upon the life expectancy, literacy, access to knowledge and living standards of a country. Sierra Leone is in 111th place out of 186 countries and territories in 2013 and the chart below shows how levels of poverty and living standards in Sierra Leone fall far short of even sub-Saharan standards.



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