FOCUS 1000 has concluded a two days inception meeting on livelihood and environmental protection with key stakeholders, partners, and participants from the 16 Districts in the country. This event was held on the 8th and 9th of September at the Adele Robert Hall in Freetown. The purpose of this meeting was to orient participants on issues of climate change, the environment, food security, livelihoods, and nutrition and the linkages among them, to discuss strategies for the Kombra Farm, Kombra Savings and Loans Scheme, and actions to address climate change.
Making a statement during the program, the Chief Executive Officer of FOCUS 1000 Mohamad Bailor Jalloh said that the world is currently experiencing a series of disasters, and Sierra Leone is no exception as the country is prone to disaster because of the massive deforestation and other human activities. “Human activities such as increasing population density in some parts of the country, logging, charcoal burning, bush burning, mining, construction, etc. have contributed immensely to destroying the environment and increasing the potential for floods, landslides, higher temperatures, water scarcity, drought, and other devastating climate change emergencies. These conditions no doubt contribute to the escalation of poverty since farming becomes incredibly challenging, which in turn deprives people of accessing food and clean drinking water”. He said.
Dr. Ramadan Jalloh is the president of the National Kombra Network he thanked FOCUS for identifying the network which comprises religious leaders, traditional healers, market women, CSOs, and the media to implement this project in all the 16 districts of the country.
Meanwhile, the network will be supported to plant and market local crops that are suitable as complementary foods for infants such as rice, banana, plantain, pawpaw, beans, and orange-fleshed sweet potato. It will also plant trees of economic importance such as coconut, cashew, mango, oranges, guava, and others. Proceeds from the marketing of these crops will be used to set up a Kombra Savings and Loans Scheme (KSLS), which will generate better livelihoods, provide access to diversified foods, easier access to loans, and support for child care.
Representing Bennie Mix Company as a private sector company Dr. Joseph Zed Bahsoon underscores the importance of public-private sector investment which the Bennie Mix company has enjoyed over the years. He said that to attain food sufficiency, the country should have to produce more for itself than what is imported.
According to the 2018 Sierra Leone Integrated Household Survey, almost 60 percent (56.8%) of Sierra Leone’s population is said to be living below the poverty line. This poor nutrition, health, and generally poor well-being condition have been exacerbated by recent disease epidemics – Ebola from 2014-2016 and COVID-19 from 2019-2022. The recent conflict between Russia and Ukraine could further exacerbate the country’s economic and food system crisis because of the dependence on the two countries for imports.
Bernadette M. Allieu, Technical Office, Office of the Vice President represented the Scaling up Nutrition (SUN) Secretariat, she said that malnutrition is a severe problem in the country, going back to the civil war, the Ebola epidemic, and natural disasters have impaired on the gains that the country has made in the area of food security, which is why the SUN secretariat was set up to ensure that women and children have enough to eat and are well-taken care off.
Although Sierra Leone’s National Demographic and Health Surveys of 2013 and 2019 and the National Nutrition Survey of 2021 indicate some improvements in its child wellbeing indicators including specific nutrition conditions, Sierra Leone has still not been able to meet its nutrition and health targets for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement Goals.
In his statement on behalf of the National Disaster Management Agency, Abu Bakarr Bangura said that the Agency was formed by the government to respond to disasters throughout the country and to build the capacities of people so that they can adapt to those happenings, which is why they are working with different departments to ensure they collaborate their efforts in whatever they do.
According to the Notre Dame Global Adaptation Initiative (ND-GAIN) Country Index 2019, Sierra Leone is ranked as the 17th most vulnerable country to climate change and the 49th least ready to adapt to climate change. It is globally accepted that Climate change has been triggered by continued environmental damages to our Earth’s ecosystems since through such damages natural habitats are lost, and increased carbon emissions are experienced, which in turn intensifies the climate crisis.
FOCUS 1000 with funds from Irish Aid will be working with the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security (MAFFS), Ministry of Health and Sanitation, Sierra Leone Meteorological (SLMet) Agency, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Ministry of Local Government, National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA), Kombra Network and representatives from other community structures to sustain the gains made over the years in the fight against child under-nutrition, scale up interventions to promote appropriate infant and young child feeding (IYCF) practices and undertake new initiatives to address the burning issue of climate change in the 16 districts of the country.