people in Sierra Leone don't have access to safe water.

Over 5 million people don't have access to adequate sanitation in Sierra Leone, over four fifths of the population.

Over 4,000 children die every year from diarrhoea caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation in Sierra Leone.

Sierra Leone emerged from a decade-long civil war in 2002 but the country still faces many challenges. Millions of people lack access to water and toilets, and two thirds of the population live in poverty.

The crisis

During the civil war between 1991 and 2002 Sierra Leone's infrastructure was seriously damaged. As a result, many water points and toilet facilities remain out of use.

40% of the population does not have access to safe water and 87% have nowhere to go to the toilet. This has a big impact on health, contributing to child deaths and a low life expectancy.

The problem is also holding back the country's development, preventing adults from working and children from getting an education. Women in particular have to walk long distances to collect water from unsafe sources.

Our approach

Having previously worked in Sierra Leone, WaterAid returned to the country after the civil war. We are helping to build the capacity of the water, sanitation and hygiene sector to improve access to these basic services.

We are working in local communities to raise awareness of the importance of hygiene and basic toilets. We do this using a process known as Community-led Total Sanitation.

Our focus is on reaching the poorest and most marginalised people. With safe water and toilets close to home, they will be able to take their first, essential step out of poverty.

In Sierra Leone last year we reached:

  • 3,000 people with safe water
  • 32,000 people with improved sanitation.