Sierra Leone ranked 179 out of 188 countries in the 2016 Human Development Index. Although the country has substantial natural resources and is committed to attaining middle-income status, institutional damage caused by the 11-year civil war (1991–2002) and the Ebola virus outbreak during 2013-2016 significantly constrained social and economic development.
The fisheries sector is an important source of income, employment and food and nutrition security. Marine and inland fisheries contribute about 10 percent to the country’s gross domestic product, and fish is the most important animal-source food in the diets of Sierra Leoneans, providing about 80 percent of animal-source protein intake.
National fish consumption is 17 kg per capita per year and close to the global average of 19.7 kg. Yet this figure is much lower in inland districts such as Tonkolili, where supply of fish is inconsistent and the fish that is supplied is often poor quality and of low hygiene. Households instead rely heavily on rice, meaning diets are often lacking in the micronutrients, minerals, essential fatty acids and proteins present in fish and that are needed for good health, particularly during the first 1000 days of life.
Sierra Leone is a scaling country for FISH. Since 2017, FISH led the Feed the Future Scaling Up Aquaculture Production project. With funding from USAID, the USD 3.5 million project tested pro-poor business models to support the development of the aquaculture sector in Tonkolili District, with the aim of increasing fish production, consumption and the incomes of small-scale farmers. The project aligns with the Sierra Leone Strategic Framework for Sustainable Aquaculture. In 2019, the WorldFish team has facilitated the development of the new private-public partnership to continue to operate the Makali hatchery. By involving private sector stakeholders in the management of the hatchery, a business-oriented approach can ensure the hatchery’s long-term success. Increasing the commercial viability of Makali goes hand-in-hand with the WorldFish approach of supporting the shift from aid-oriented programs to long-term sustainable development.
From April 2019, WorldFish does not maintain a full-time presence in Sierra Leone, yet will continue to monitor learning and outcomes from the investments made from 2017-2019, contributing to the knowledge and impacts generated by the global FISH program.