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Sierra Leone: help in regaining self-sufficiency

15-05-1996 News Release 96/19

The ICRC started distributing rice seed to farmers in the Kailahun and Pujehun districts, in eastern Sierra Leone, in early May. About 100 tonnes have already been handed out in the region of Bandajuma, which is under the control of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), and in the government-held town of Zimmi. Altogether the programme will provide about 1,400 tonnes of rice and groundnut seed to some 150,000 people living along the Liberian border.

With the cease-fire agreed upon by the government and the RUF in March, the area's inhabitants are gradually returning to their homes and beginning to work the land again. The fighting in recent years had caused major displacements among the population, seriously hampering agricultural production. As a result, chronic malnutrition and the frequent looting of food supplies had prevented farmers from saving seed for replanting. The distribution programme is aimed at helping people in the area to regain a measure of self-sufficiency.

The ICRC will continue handing out food rations, which will average more than 1,000 tonnes a month for the coming four months, until the next harvest in September and October. It will then reassess the situation and decide whether to scale down food distributions.