General information on Sierra Leone

During the country's 10-year civil war, thousands of children were used as combatants. In 2014, the Ebola epidemic brought even more hardships to one of Africa’s poorest countries. Against this background, SOS Children's Villages has played a vital role in helping the country's most vulnerable segments of population: children and young adults.

SOS Kindergarten - photo: C. Lesske
SOS Kindergarten in Freetown (photo: C. Lesske)

Despite significant natural wealth, Sierra Leone remains one of the poorest countries in the world: around 80 per cent of its population live in crippling poverty. Semi-arid rural areas tend to be more affected than the urban centres of the country. The average Sierra Leonean can expect to live to 48 years, one of the lowest life expectancy figures in the entire world.

Nearly half the population is severely undernourished as regular access to food and drinking water remains scarce. HIV/AIDS remains a persisting public health issue in Sierra Leone, a country that is home to 49,000 people who suffer from the disease. Although noticeable progress has been made over recent years, HIV continues to be a significant problem in rural areas which are generally more affected than urban centres.

In 2014, the Ebola epidemic disrupted all aspects of life in Sierra Leone. Many families were negatively affected: the price of fuel and most basic food went up and in areas where movement was restricted, adults couldn’t go out to earn a living.

Happy to be at school - photo: C. Lesske
During the Ebola epidemic, SOS Children’s Villages has given local families food and basic medical supplies  - photo: SOS archives