While Sierra Leone’s 11-year civil war ended in 2002, its legacy of violence and cruelty continues to affect the country and its next generation. Much of the population lives in poverty, and those in rural communities often have little or no recourse when multinational corporations take control of their land or natural resources. Although the government recently introduced a free education program, quality of instruction remains low, and children and especially girls continue to experience high barriers to completing school, including child marriage and high rates of sexual violence. Despite the need for civil society of activists and organizations, the government has passed a very restrictive NGO policy and regulatory framework that could curtail their work.
The Fund has been on the ground in Sierra Leone since our inception, and currently partners with eight organizations there. Our grantees are mobilizing communities to curb sexual violence and support survivors of assault in pursuing justice. They promote youth leadership and activism, combat child marriage and trafficking, and protect community land and natural resources—while pushing back against government policies that undermine activists’ work.