EU-Funded Program Transforms Sierra Leone's Rural Roads, Empowering Communities and Bolstering Economic Growth

In a remarkable collaborative effort, the International Labor Organization (ILO), with funding from European Union (EU), executes crucial routine maintenance on approximately 33.05 kilometres of roads in the Bo, Kenema, Bombali, and Port Loko Districts. This initiative seeks to not only connect communities but also create vital access to markets, fostering economic growth and significantly improving the lives of residents.

Feature | 21 March 2024
Freetown, Sierra Leone.
The heart of this project lies in revitalizing feeder roads in Sierra Leone. These roadways have posed significant challenges to agricultural communities, resulting in high costs of accessing agricultural inputs. The dire state of the roads led to increased expenses in transporting goods to markets, delays in reaching those markets, or, in some cases, made them entirely inaccessible.

inclusive group of workers from the road work project
One beneficiary, Salamatu Kamara, residing in the Makai community in Makeni, attests to the transformative impact of the EU and ILO intervention. She enthusiastically reports that the days of grappling with transportation challenges are now a thing of the past. Thanks to these improvements, farmers like her can now transport their produce to towns promptly, reducing the risks of accidents and significantly cutting transportation costs. The newfound accessibility has breathed new life into nearby villages and towns.

Crucially, this road maintenance project also empowered local small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) contractors, equipping them with essential skills for road maintenance and business management. The Opportunity Salone Programme has provided hands-on training to 27 local SME contractors in the four operational districts, creating opportunities for women, young people, and persons living with disabilities. One success story is 21-year-old Hassan Kella.

I was picking palm fruits for people in my community, and they pay me what they feel is befitting, which is not sustainable and always I am broke. When the road work started, I was employed and I was trained to do basic maintenance on the roads in my community, for which I received 60 leones daily. I can now boast of a savings that I will invest on motor bike transport businesses when the road seasons are off.

-Hassan Kella
Residents have voiced their appreciation for these transformative developments. The improvements in road infrastructure have not only boosted agricultural processes but have also revitalized trade within the communities, significantly enhancing economic activities.

workers on a roadwork project
The commitment of the EU, the Government of Sierra Leone, and the ILO to improving Sierra Leonean communities remains unwavering. Their vision for the coming years includes promoting a four-value chain project designed to develop and improve the lives of 4,000 young entrepreneurs nationwide. Additionally, plans are in place to maintain 200 kilometres of feeder roads. These efforts aim to bolster agricultural production, increase market access, and ultimately enhance people's livelihoods within these communities. In a region once plagued by inadequate road infrastructure, these transformative efforts have not only paved the way for economic growth but have also instilled hope for a brighter future among Sierra Leonean communities. 920915