Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone is a small country bursting with potential. Between wealth in natural minerals, a huge harbour and beautiful landscapes of white beaches and rainforests, its young population should be prospering from trade and tourism.

But a decade of civil war devastated Sierra Leone in the 1990s, overturning all progress. When Ebola broke out in 2014, more than ten years after the conflict’s end, less than one in four households had somewhere to wash their hands, and only one in 14 had any soap.

The disease spread rapidly, highlighting just how many people were living – and dying – without clean water, decent toilets or good hygiene. Without all three, people can’t live dignified, healthy lives. With all three, they can free themselves from poverty and change their lives for good.

We began making change happen in Sierra Leone in 2015. The conditions left by both the conflict and Ebola presented many new challenges. But, thanks to your support, we have already made a difference.

We’re addressing the reasons why some people, especially in the remotest communities, are excluded from services. And we're building up their knowledge and confidence to work together and assert their rights.

The Government has officially recognised people’s right to water, which is a great start. We’re supporting them to fulfil this and allocate the resources needed to reach everyone – and to acknowledge that decent toilets and good hygiene are equally crucial.

We’re also helping to build strong institutions that will provide lasting services, with solid policies, tested programmes and clear plans.

Together, we can ensure Sierra Leone has the foundations to rebuild and return to progress, opening up a future in which everyone can reach their full potential.

people don't have clean water

people don't have a decent toilet

children under 5 die each year from diarrhoea


A new pump changes everything

We will not suffer as we used to.
Iye Denby, 40 - Nyeama village

Thanks to the hand pump we installed, Iye Denby has seen normal life in her village transformed. 

When she and her family returned here after years in exile during the civil war, they had little food or shelter, and only a dirty river for water. 

Iye would collect water each evening, and filter it the next morning after the dirt had settled. It still made her family sick, but they had no choice. 

Her daughter Ngadie almost died from diarrhoea; her baby son didn’t survive. “Coming from war after all the troubles only to see my child falling sick was another dagger in my heart,” she told us. 

Over the years many people, including Iye’s two-year-old granddaughter, died of cholera. 

Today, though, the clean water from the pump has changed their lives. “Children don’t fall sick as they used to. They have smiley faces.” And Iye herself now stays healthy and energetic, able to farm vegetables, sometimes enough to sell.

This is the kind of change that improves lives for good; the kind of change we're committed to achieving across Sierra Leone.   

Ready to make a difference? Donate to WaterAid and help change someone's life.


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