Sierra Leone has gone through a civil war that started in 1991 and lasted for about ten years. A large number of human lives were lost, about half of the population was displaced and a considerable part of the country’s social and physical infrastructure was destroyed. The entire economic set-up and social fabric was disrupted and normal Government functions were put out of action. The extensive war-induced disruption caused the economy to shrink by nearly 43 percent between 1990-1999. Consequent to the shrinkage in GDP, the per capita income fell by 28 percent, from US$197 in 1991 to US$140 in 2002, and stood at US$139 in 2003. The progressive decline in per capita income over the years concomitantly increased the number of people living below the poverty line from about 66 percent in the early 1990s to nearly 90 percent by 2002. Sierra Leone is now one of the poorest countries in the world, and is ranked at the bottom of the 2003 UNDP Human Development Index.

Many farms and rural areas were abandoned and villages were burned down as a result of the war. Abandoned farms turned into bushes, and mangroves reclaimed considerable lowland rice fields, while tree crop plantations were swallowed by the growing bush forest. Installations that were useful to the rural population were also destroyed. Under these circumstances, returning farmers became destitute due to lack of basic tools and materials such as farm implements and seeds to start farming. The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security (MAFFS) was one of the worst affected institutions by the war, as virtually all its infrastructure and facilities were destroyed or damaged and its equipment and vehicles looted or vandalized. Of the most striking damage caused to agricultural institutions by vandalism during the war, three prominent establishments stand out: i.e. the Rokpur Rice Research Station (RRRS), the Njala University College and the Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR).

Fortunately, the Government of Sierra Leone and its international partners have moved swiftly to tackle the problems left behind by the civil war, raising hope for a better future. In 1999 the GOSL established a social fund, the National Commission for Reconstruction, Resettlement and Rehabilitation (NCRRR) to assist the people by providing relief and other related activities. After implementing the bulk of the emergency programmes, Government set up the National Commission for Social Action (NaCSA) towards the end of 2001, to succeed NCRRR, indicating that the new Commission would focus on development, without losing sight of the relief needs.

MAFFS and the research institutions have started to dedicate part of their limited resources for rehabilitating key installations. NaCSA was organized into three sections with distinct objectives: the community-based programme, the public works programme, and a micro-credit programme aimed at providing loans to finance small-scale businesses.

The Agricultural Sector Rehabilitation Programme in which various donors can participate provides a policy and financing framework for rehabilitation of the devastated agriculture and rural development caused by the prolonged civil war. IFAD has already appraised its project Rehabilitation and Community-based Poverty Reduction Project “RCPRP”. The activities of IFAD project will be concentrated in Kono and Kailahun Districts. Whereas the ADF project will be implemented in Kambia, Port Loko, Moyamba, Pujehun and Kenema Districts 

Source: Africa Development Bank