It is estimated that 70 percent of Sierra Leone’s population lives in poverty—26 percent in extreme poverty. In 2009, the International Food Policy Research Institute ranked Sierra Leone among the five countries with the highest global hunger index score and among the six most severely affected by and vulnerable to the global economic downturn.
In 2011, the World Food Program reported that 45 percent of households are food insecure during the lean season—June through September—with rural populations facing increased risk. Notably, over one-third of the country’s children under the age of 5 suffer from chronic malnutrition, and one in eight women will die from pregnancy-related causes.
In June 2010, USAID awarded ACDI/VOCA a five-year, $60 million PL 480 Title II program to be implemented with the International Medical Corps and Opportunities Industrialization Center International. The program is operating in the districts of Tonkolili, Bombali, Kailahun and Koinadugu to reduce food insecurity and increase resiliency among vulnerable populations. Overall, the Sustainable Nutrition and Agriculture Promotion (SNAP) Program anticipates reaching over 400,000 vulnerable individuals.
SNAP will reduce food insecurity and increases resiliency among the most vulnerable rural populations by utilizing an integrated approach. Such an approach ensures access to food through direct distribution, thus improving health and nutrition, while promoting improved literacy and sustainable livelihood activities for these same households. Specifically, ACDI/VOCA and its partners are implementing the program in 18 impoverished chiefdoms addressing two strategic objectives:
- Reduced chronic malnutrition among children under five
- Enhanded livelihoods for vulnerable people, especially women and youth
In addition, SNAP integrates five cross-cutting themes into program interventions: resiliency to shocks, productive youth, gender equity, environmental stewardship and good governance.
Objective 1: Reduce chronic malnutrition among children under five
SNAP is implementing a “preventing malnutrition in children under two” approach (PM2A), targeting 50,063 mother-child units with monthly trainings and direct distribution of rations for pregnant and lactating women and children up to 23 months of age. PM2A combines health capacity building, behavior change communication and food aid to provide a bridge toward long-term, sustainable improvements in health, sanitation and nutrition. Along with the mother-child ration, this program adopts the practice of protective rations such that households are to receive a ration of oil, bulgur and lentils during the lean season.
SNAP is also engaging local health services and communities at large with trainings and rehabilitation projects to ensure that all children under five in the rural communities where SNAP operates will benefit from improved health opportunities, nutritional and hygiene knowledge and superior family decision making. Health workers and community-based organizations are also being enlisted to conduct information-sharing public gatherings to help create the community ownership that is essential to sustainable impact. Medicines are being provided to peripheral health units as gifts-in-kind.
Objective 2: Enhance livelihoods for vulnerable people, especially women and youth
SNAP is working to enhance livelihood opportunities for over 45,000 individuals in the same communities where chronic malnutrition is being addressed through the first strategic objective. Agricultural production and post-harvest handling techniques will be improved through training and the use of demonstration plots. ACDI/VOCA’s Farming as a Family Business (FaaFB) training curriculum will enable farmers to become more competitive in their focal value chains while taking into consideration gender roles within the household. SNAP is supporting value chains for rice, cassava, sorghum, pigeon pea, sesame, oil palm, groundnuts, sweet potato and garden vegetables. Off-farm vocational training includes soap-making and gara tie-dying (gara are intricate, beautifully tie-dyed and batiked cotton fabrics).
SNAP will enhance marketing channels for farmers by establishing or strengthening producer and marketing associations and establishing and improving village savings and loan associations to increase the cash supply for both social and productive purposes and provide more opportunities for women’s empowerment. SNAP will also support improved literacy given the high levels of post-war illiteracy and the constraint this places on economic opportunities.
As of September 2011, the USAID-funded program had:
- conducted a barrier analysis to ensure that appropriate behavior change communication techniques are used
- provided rations of 6 kg corn soy blend and 1 liter vegetable oil per pregnant and lactating woman to 3,306 beneficiaries
- trained 108 community farmer facilitators in FaaB
- established 324 farmer field schools reaching 9,758 farmers (5,854 males and 3,904 females)
- introduced 30 biosand filters
- trained 113 peripheral health unit (PHU) staff members in reproductive health to equip participants with the basic skills in the management of obstetric emergencies
- identified and trained 1,630 lead mothers on lesson one (module one) of essential nutrition actions
- trained 26 PHU staff members on infant and young child feeding best practices and 102 PHU staff in integrated management of neonatal and childhood illnesses (IMNCI)
- trained 72 targeted community health workers on (IMNCI)
- completed the construction/rehabilitation of 14 pit latrines across the 4 districts
- formed 170 mother care groups in the four operational districts by 43 identified health promoters
- provided training for 70 participants from input suppliers
- enrolled and trained youths in three centers in various vocational skills
For more information, contact Jacob Gray at email@example.com.