Sierra Leone

SOS Children’s Villages ensures that children grow up with the care, protection and relationships they need to become their strongest selves (photo: SOS Children’s Villages in Sierra Leone).

Sierra Leone is a country in western Africa. It has a population of around 8 million people. Since gaining independence from Great Britain in 1961, the country's history has been turbulent. Between 1991 and 2002, a civil war cost thousands of lives and displaced more than two million people – about one third of the population at the time. Although Sierra Leone is rich in natural resources like diamonds, gold and cocoa, it remains one of the poorest countries in the world.

SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children and young people without parental care, or at risk of losing it, in Sierra Leone since 1974.

Children are at risk

Sierra Leone has a very large population of young people, with around 48% under the age of 18 years. Even though the government has taken steps to improve the situation of children, their wellbeing continues to face many challenges. Physical punishment is still widespread, early pregnancy is common and the majority of girls have undergone female genital mutilation. Furthermore, many schools do not have access to basic water and sanitation.
Of children have lost their parents

Children without care

Children who have lost their parents often face many challenges, like having to take care of, and earn money for, their entire family at a very early age. Because they have to work, they miss out on an education. In Sierra Leone, 12% of children have lost their parents. The number of children growing up without one or both parents is highest in the Eastern, North West and Northern provinces, as well as the Western Area.

Of Sierra Leone’s population lives in poverty


Although Sierra Leone is rich in natural resources, many people live in poverty. This means that they live on less than 1,90 USD a day. They also struggle to fulfil their most basic needs like health care, education, and access to water and sanitation. There is a sharp urban-rural divide when it comes to poverty in Sierra Leone. People living in rural areas are more likely to be affected by poverty than those living in urban areas.

Years is the average life expectancy in Sierra Leone

Low life expectancy

At 54.6 years, Sierra Leone has one of the lowest life expectancies in the world. Life expectancy is a way to measure the health of a population and the global average is calculated at 72.7 years. In Sierra Leone the majority of people die from preventable or treatable causes. Leading causes for death are illnesses such as malaria or tuberculosis. Poor access to healthcare is another factor that negatively affects life expectancy in Sierra Leone.

Together we can make a difference for children in Sierra Leone

3080 Children and young peopl
Children and youth
Attend our schools and training centres
Grow up in our care
Children and young people
Are supported on their way to independence
In spite of free primary and secondary education, many children and young people do not attend school. SOS Children’s Villages collaborates with different partners to provide training and mentoring for young people so that they can start their independent lives (photo: SOS Children’s Villages in Sierra Leone).

Working together for sustainable development

In 2015, leaders from 193 countries committed to the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This 15 year plan aims to improve the lives of people by ending poverty, fighting inequality and protecting the planet.
GOAL 1: End poverty
SOS Children’s Villages supports families and communities to keep families together and to help them break out of the cycle of poverty.
GOAL 4: Ensure quality education for all
Every child and young person SOS Children’s Villages supports has access to education, from kindergarten right up to vocational training or university.
GOAL 8: Equal job opportunities
SOS Children’s Villages supports young people in developing the skills and self-confidence they need to find decent work and trains parents so that they can have a stable income.
GOAL 10: Reduce inequalities
SOS Children’s Villages works to keep children safe, by promoting peaceful and inclusive communities. We provide training on children’s rights and positive parenting.
GOAL 16: Promote peaceful and inclusive societies
We advocate laws and practices that ensure social inclusion and protection for children and young people without parental care or from marginalized households.

Let’s keep on protecting children and young people!

Many children have been able to find a safe and secure home. With your help, we can continue to change their lives