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 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.
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.
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.