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Sierra Leone: Major distribution of relief items to vulnerable farmers

02-05-2002 News Release 02/18

In an effort to help internally displaced persons and refugees resettle in their home villages, the ICRC and the Sierra Leone Red Cross Society (SLRCS) have begun distributing seed and farm tools to nearly 40,000 vulnerable farm families (about 240,000 people) in Kono and Kailahun districts. Also included in the relief package are shelter materials, blankets, buckets, kitchen sets, mats, mosquito nets, mugs, used clothing and soap.

The operation is the largest in the eastern region so far. For the communities involved, which face the task of rebuilding their lives after 10 years of crisis in Sierra Leone, it will provide vital support in their efforts to achieve food security and economic self-sufficiency.

The Red Cross is distributing rice seed, groundnut seed and hoes to about 20,000 families in seven chiefdoms in Kono district (Fiama, Gbanekandor, Lei, Mafindor, Sandor, Soa and Toli) and to another 20,000 families in six chiefdoms in Kailahun district (Jaluahun, Luawa, Kissi Kama, Kissi Teng, Kissi Tongi and Upper Bambara). The most vulnerable of the beneficiaries (about 12,000 people in Kono district and 14,000 people in Kailahun district) will receive non-food items as well. Before the operation was launched, needs were assessed and the beneficiaries were registered by community representatives using criteria set by the Red Cross. A joint ICRC/SLRCS team later checked that those registered were entitled to assistance.

In 2001 the Red Cross supplied 18,482 families in chiefdoms in Kono and Kailahun districts not included in the current programme with urgently needed items such as tarpaulins, blankets, buckets, kitchen utensils, mats, used clothing and soap.

The ICRC is also supporting the construction of wells and improved ventilated pit latrines to meet demands for safe water and sanitation in 53 villages in Kono district. In recent weeks nearly 800 pit latrines have been dug to a minimum depth of 3.5 metres. The ICRC is providing the materials, the know-how and training and the construction work is being carried out by the communities. In Peje Bongre, Peje West and Yawei chiefdoms in Kailahun district, a similar programme is under way.