Sierra Leone

One of the world’s poorest countries, Sierra Leone has made significant progress in overcoming the economic and development challenges left by high population growth and a decade of civil war. Since the war’s end in 2002, GDP growth reached 5.6 percent in 2011 and is predicted to rise to 6 percent in 2012 (World Bank). While recent high global commodity prices and currency depreciation caused average inflation to increase to 18.5 percent in 2011, that number is expected to decline in 2012 to 8.5 percent (World Bank).

Despite this successful growth, poverty remains pervasive, with an estimated 75 percent of the population living below the poverty line in 2007. This rate increases to 80 percent in rural areas (UNICEF). Underemployment remains rampant, particularly in urban areas and among youths and former combatants.

Agriculture contributes over 40 percent of the country’s GDP (WFP). However, low labor productivity, lack of irrigation, and inadequate access to markets make food security a continuing challenge. Approximately one fourth of the population was estimated to have poor food consumption in 2007; 40 percent of children under five are chronically malnourished (WFP). Infant mortality rates were recorded at 160 per 1,000 in 2006, while maternal mortality was 1,077 per 100,000 births in 2005.