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OPARD-SL Works Towards Food Security and Job Creation For the Youths in Rural Sierra Leone

The Year 2002 officially marked the end of the civil crisis in Sierra Leone, as declared by the formal President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah, in his “the war don, don” speech broadcast nationwide on January 17th 2002. This positive indication restored confidence among people and attracted both Global and National NGO’s to resume full-scale operations to serve humanity in the country.

Some 1.6 million Internally Displaced people (IDP’s) were resettled and some 45,000 ex-combatants were reintegrated to their former communities. Massive reconciliation processes across the country were carried out to create a stable society. However, the process of reconciliation still remains vital to actually reorientate the minds of the  people from war to peace. It was also necessary to promote the  concept of forgiveness to allow for proper transformation and reintegration which is essential for sustainable and permanent peace across the nation.

The Year 2003 marked the real hope for peace and development. Despite the intervention of the  International Community in terms of relief support to the war affected and devastated communities, the people were still sufferings from chronic and persistence hunger and poverty. The war left behind considerable numbers of abandoned children, war affected orphans, widows, and frustrated youths across the country who pose a heavy burden on the Government, the international community, NGOs, and other partners who need to meet the escalating demands of our vulnerable society.
 
Many people have moved to the cities as a result of the war, and have not returned to their communities ever since the war ended in 2002. These people have no skills to earn them a living in the cities and the majority of them are engaged only in petty trading. The present living conditions of youths in Sierra Leone are similar to the prevailing conditions before the rebel war in 1991, causing a significant number of youths to engage in drug use, armed robbery and other activities which pose a serious security concern.
 
Social conditions of war widows have also forced some women to engage in the sex  trade , which consequently exposes them to sexually transmitted diseases and early child birth. Our studies have also shown that youths in rural communities are more likely to engage in marijuana cultivation (which provides them with fast income) than natural food production which consequently causes drastic implications on food production, and can contribute to food scarcity in the country.
 
The Organization for Peace, Reconciliation and Development – Sierra Leone, Inc (OPARD-SL) ( whose website,  www.opardsl.org,   under construction) in Winnipeg, Canada, is currently working towards food security and job creation for the youths in rural communities in Sierra Leone.  The purpose of this crusade  is to provide the youths with an alternative source of income and empowering them with the skills they need to thrive in the workforce. OPARD-SL’s project will help youths to realize their fullest potential, and will also help to stimulate Sierra Leone’s economy.
 
Our Food Security project is by funded  UNDP   and the U.S Embassy in Sierra Leone to build a food processing plant for the processing of food crops into juices, jams and preserves. This project will create jobs for the youths in the rural community of Mile 91, and will also enhance our poorly managed food crops (mangos, oranges, cassava, etc) into a value-added form.
 
The OPARD-SL project has been funded  and it has  implemented major development programs in food security, micro credit support for vulnerable women, water sanitation and empowerment for the youths.

Over one hundred war widows have benefited from our current micro-credit program. We have provided them with credit loans to start businesses ; we have trained  them on micro-credit skills management, and giving them agricultural input to be independent and self employed.

 

 In addition to this, other organizations have sought the local expertise, skills and experience of OPARD-SL; these include Accountable Development Works in Winnipeg Canada,  The United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the United States Embassy in Sierra Leone, the World Bank, SALWACO, and others.

Despite the fact that  it is a  well respected previous work, OPARD-SL faces ever-increasing pressure from communities that need more assistance. Although our projects are designed for sustainability, the current economic and social needs of Sierra Leone urgently demand the expansion of such efforts.

 Now is the time to act, and prevent the current levels of poverty from escalating into unrest or even conflict. With a proven track record of projects and locally relevant yet internationally respected expertise, no organization is better poised to lead the way to development by Sierra Leoneans for Sierra Leoneans than OPARD-SL.

 

 

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