Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection

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Sierra Leone

Photo credit: EU/ECHO/Samy Cecchin

What are the needs?

Ten years after the end of a decade-long civil war that resulted in the displacement of two million people as well as the death and mutilation of thousands, Sierra Leone is back to being a stable country. As a constitutional democracy that heavily depends on donors, its priorities are economic recovery, rehabilitation of infrastructures, tackling poverty and unemployment.

The country’s health indicators continue to be among the worst in the world with extremely high infant and maternal mortality. The year 2014 saw the largest Ebola epidemic on record in Sierra Leone. Initially limited to Guinea, the Ebola virus rapidly spread to other countries of West Africa including Sierra Leone as of May 2014.

Previously in 2012, Sierra Leone experienced its worst cholera outbreak in over 15 years. The cross-border epidemic, which also affected other West African coastal states, was particularly devastating in Sierra Leone. More than 22 000 people got infected and almost 300 died. Cholera is on the rise in West Africa where 100 000 people are affected each year.

How are we helping?

The EU is mobilising all available resources to help contain, control, treat and ultimately defeat Ebola by establishing a coherent international response. The EU has provided €1.3 billion and expertise to the four Ebola-affected countries, including Sierra Leone, to help contain the spread of the deadly virus.

As Sierra Leone remains prone to natural disasters and epidemics, the European Commission's Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO) continues to monitor the situation and supports regional preparedness efforts.

Furthermore, a 'shield & sword' approach to cholera has been piloted with ECHO’s support. This approach couples prevention measures with early detection, response and treatment. It also involves epidemiological surveillance on both sides of the Guinean-Sierra Leonean border.

Having provided emergency health and nutrition care, food assistance, water and sanitation facilities, shelter and protection for many years, a transition from humanitarian to development aid is now being ensured between the European Commission’s aid departments.

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