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Work for young people fosters societal stability

Landkarte von Sierra Leone mit der Hauptstadt Freetown

As of: 10/2022
After Sierra Leone had barely recovered from an eleven-year civil war, the Ebola epidemic and subsequently the outbreak of COVID-19 wiped out any early progress. Even now, the country remains one of the poorest in the world, with most people living below the poverty line. Prospects of a better life are scarce, as unemployment and underemployment are high. Weak state institutions face the huge challenge of creating peaceful structures for the long term. On behalf of the German Federal Government, KfW has been promoting the reconstruction of infrastructure in rural areas through the Pro-Poor Growth for Peace Consolidation programme since 2005. This creates income and employment opportunities for the local population while stimulating local economies, such as the trade in rice and cocoa.

Project titlePro-Poor Growth for Peace Consolidation
Commissioned byGerman Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country/RegionSierra Leone
Project partnersNational Commission for Social Action (NaCSA)

Current situation

Sierra Leone is even now still feeling the effects of the many years of civil war. The economic and social infrastructure was largely destroyed. With the exception of a few interurban connections, there are no asphalted roads. An initial economic recovery came to a standstill due to Ebola and the COVID-19 pandemic. Unemployment and underemployment are serious problems, especially for the high numbers of young people. The unemployment rate among 15–35 year-olds is now over 70%, making it one of the highest in western Africa. Many teenagers were unable to attend school during the war and, due to a lack of vocational training, have had to keep their heads above water with simple unskilled labour. Poverty and the lack of prospects lead to frustration, which jeopardises societal stability and the consolidation of peace. High inflation increases the potential for social unrest. It is imperative that the economy is given a boost in order to improve the living situation of young people in particular.

Project approach

The KfW programme, which is now in its third phase, is helping to create employment opportunities. KfW together with the government project partner, the National Commission for Social Action, designed a programme to specifically promote economic sectors that will create economic prospects for large sections of the population.

This concerns the construction of infrastructure, in particular the repair of access roads and the construction of markets, warehouses, grain stores, wells and livestock markets. In the north, support is being provided to livestock farmers and merchants. To facilitate this, trade routes are being rehabilitated and markets built. The penned stables can accommodate the herds on market days and the community earns additional income from the holding fees. It is important that efforts are made to ensure that as many people as possible are employed in the programme regions so that they can quickly generate an income.

Cocoa farming dominates agricultural production in the east of the country. Access roads in particular have been rehabilitated to improve market access for smallholders and to optimise cooperation with cooperatives or buyers. Lower transport costs mean that the cocoa farmers living in the villages can generate higher incomes and invest more in expanding their production.

Rice growing plays an important role in the entire country. The warehouses financed by KfW help to reduce post-harvest losses, and rice farmers can choose the best time to sell their produce without having to worry about spoilage.

This creates employment opportunities in rural areas in several ways. Another important aspect of the programme is that it supports municipalities and government authorities to implement the operation and maintenance of the promoted infrastructure autonomously. To facilitate this process, local user committees are established to promote the potential for self-help. The district councils are closely involved in planning and implementation. This also supports good governance at the local level.


Improving the road network forms the basis for any socio-economic development in the remote areas of the project region. Under the programme, more than 1,100 km of rural roads have been rehabilitated since its inception in 2005 and over 130 infrastructure projects such as wells, bridges, grain stores and livestock markets have been built.

The population is actively using the new warehouses. In fact, these are often becoming a focal point of village life, as they provide electricity from solar cells. The large terraces of the houses serve as a meeting place. The user committees can expand the warehouses as an additional source of income which supports the project. Investment in charging stations for mobile phones is particularly popular.

In many cases, this lucrative activity gives rise to other business ideas that contribute to the economic revitalisation of the communities. A survey of the people in the programme regions confirmed that both the general situation and the security situation have improved significantly. Improved structures in the areas of transport, agriculture and trade contribute to sustainable economic growth in rural regions. This also helps to create more employment and income opportunities in the medium and long term. The peace dividend enjoyed by the population comes in the form of noticeably improved living conditions.

The project contributes to the achievement of these following United Nations Sustainable Development Goals:


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