Sierra Leone held general elections in 2018, the most closely contested in its political history, with the opposition party winning after a second vote. The new Government launched the Medium-Term National Development Plan (MTNDP - 2019-2023), which maps out immediate and long-term development goals and commitment to transform from a fragile state into a stable democracy.
The country’s population (7.1 million people) is very young with 45.8% under the age of 15, and 74.8% below age 35. The economy remains centered on agriculture, which is the main source of livelihood for around 50% of the adult working population, making economic diversification in the country exceptionally difficult. The Government of Sierra Leone is working to move the agriculture sector from subsistence levels to greater productivity and higher value market crops. However, in 2020, Sierra Leone’s economy, like in many countries around the world, was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic which has led to slowdown in all sectors following global supply disruptions and lockdown measures.
Huge investments have been made in the health and education sectors in order to spur improvements in child and maternal mortality, and in educational access and outcomes, which will allow Sierra Leone to harness the full potential of its human capital.
Notwithstanding these advantages, reforms and initiatives, Sierra Leone still has pervasive issues to overcome including high youth unemployment, corruption and weak governance. Problems of poor infrastructure and widespread rural and urban impoverishment persist as well. Adding to these challenges are customary laws, institutional and economic barriers and widely held cultural and social beliefs acting as significant barriers to women’s full integration into the decision-making sphere at the household, community, and national levels.
USAID works closely with the Government of Sierra Leone and other donors to ensure that basic socio-economic and health services are accessible to those most in need and that Sierra Leone is resilient and prepared to respond adequately to future public crises.