Food security continues to cripple rural areas of Sierra Leone, often for months at a time. Nearly 3/4 of the land is suitable for agriculture, however, the country still fails to provide enough food for its population. During the rainy season in August many children go to school hungry as their parents struggle to feed their large families.
Subsistence agriculture is a way of life for many rural Sierra Leoneans, like the crew above in Lunsar. Families are large, often 12-20 people living under one roof. Just providing enough food for family members often proves to be a difficult task for many of these small farmers. Despite an abundance of suitable land for crops, resources severely limit production, with less than 20% of the land in country producing food for its people.
Sierra Leone continues to fight back one crisis at a time, but these poor farmers need more government help to fully recover. After the country suffered a terrible decade long civil war, they became the epicenter of the Ebola outbreak in 2014. Following that, there was significant flooding in 2015 and a devastating landslide in 2017.
In fact, Sierra Leone has been labeled as the second most vulnerable country to the effects of climate change in the world. This year brought heavier rains than normal making July and August difficult for farmers. Mining and deforestation have also changed the landscape so significantly some areas are no longer suitable for crops.
The few farmers who do try to produce crops large enough to sell, struggle from a lack of equipment and poor quality of seed. Manually working the land with sometimes low output means pulling family resources to get the job done. Very few of these farmers are able to keep their kids in school because they need them in the fields and for transporting and selling the crops.
The farmers above are working to provide food solely for their families. They work long days in their rice fields, often sun up to sun down. Three of them have received bikes from Bikes for the World to help them reach their fields faster, saving them time to spend with their families.