For eleven years, a civil war of many dimensions ravaged Sierra Leone, leaving trails of destruction, pain and untold economic hardship.
It is almost impossible for amputees and those who were wounded in the war to find a source of livelihood.
Many of them have resorted to street begging.
“Things have not been easy for us because of our condition. We were somehow neglected, which made our lives difficult. But thanks to Solidaridad, things are now better for us,” says Abdulai Conteh.
Abdulai is one of the beneficiaries of the European Union-funded Boosting Agriculture and Food Security (BAFS) Programme which is being implemented by Solidaridad West Africa and the Cotton Tree Foundation. He is also the District Chairman of the Amputees and War Wounded association in Sierra Leone.
“We cannot just sit and accept handouts from the streets. We can do something meaningful with our lives. This is why some of us have ventured into Agriculture,” says Abdulai.
The four-year programme (July 2019 – July 2023) seeks to improve farm-level productivity through good agronomic practices to boost farmers’ incomes and livelihoods. It also provides life and social skills as well as basic business and entrepreneurial training to the farmers.
Solidaridad is supporting 20 females and 25 male amputees belonging to the national Amputee and War Wounded association with innovative farming techniques, like intercropping, to improve their yield. Currently, the group has cultivated cashew and other crops on a 42-acre land. With the help of Solidaridad and Cotton Tree Foundation they hope to increase it to 100 acres before the end of the 2020 planting season.
“The intercropping technique has proved useful. It has given us the opportunity to earn extra income from other crops and provided us with food,” says Abdulai.
The programme fits with the Solidaridad agenda of promoting sustainable and inclusive supply chains by leaving no one behind, in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals. It also helps farmers to adopt climate-smart farming practices to meet their food and nutritional needs.
“Solidaridad is happy to partner with the European Union and the Cotton Tree Foundation to support the Sierra Leone government’s agenda to boost agriculture, improve food security and reduce poverty,” says Nicholas Jengre, country representative for Solidaridad.