Sierra Leone: US Mission, Partners Celebrate Successful Conclusion of SNAP Project

By Stephen V. Lansana

The United States Mission in Sierra Leone and partners, on Wednesday December 14, 2016, celebrated the successful closure of the Sustainable Nutrition and Agricultural Promotion (SNAP) project at the Miatta Conference Hall in Freetown.

In his remarks, the US Ambassador to Sierra Leone John Hoover said the SNAP began six years ago, and it resulted in a US$60 million investment by the U.S Government in the people and future of Sierra Leone’s Agenda for Prosperity.

He said, “I am especially proud that SNAP did not operate independently. Rather it was designed and implemented to fully support the Government of Sierra Leone’s Agenda for Prosperity in helping the government to reach its goals in health, nutrition and agricultural productivity.”

He explained that when the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) wrecked the economy of Sierra Leone, SNAP was pivoted to support the emergency response by giving farmers a safety net by providing credit facilities to them through Village Savings and Lending Groups.

“Now these savings and lending groups are supporting the goals of President Koroma’s Recovery Priorities by making larger investments in agriculture through their own savings, including rice milling machines and other agricultural inputs,” Hoover said.

Hoover said SNAP has contribute to a major reduction in malnutrition among children under five years, adding “this means, you saved lives and gave thousands of youngsters a chance to live normal lives. SNAP also provided bankable skills by training hundreds of youths in masonry, carpentry, tailoring, soap making and gara tie-dying.” He said that these are notable achievements, but much need to be done.

He explained that in Sierra Leone, more than half of the country’s population does not have access to a sufficient amount of safe and nutritious food. He said several food insecurities affects 600,000 people, an increase of 60 percent since 2010. “While the country recently celebrated the one-year anniversary of the end of the Ebola outbreak, the most vulnerable members of society still struggle to find food,” he said.

“We recognize this and we want you to know that the conclusion of SNAP does not mean the U.S. will no longer support agriculture and food resilience in Sierra Leone. We are here to stay,” he emphasized.

He said they have launched a US$30million project which is a five year program that will improve agricultural productivity, food security and nutrition in Tonkolili under President Obama’s global “Feed the Future initiative”.

In her presentation, Chief of Party of ACDI/VOCA Expanding Opportunities Worldwide, G. Beans said the objective of the SNAP Project was to reduce malnutrition among under-five children and to enhance livelihood and productivity among women and youths. She said the project was implemented in 18 chiefdoms in Bombolili, Tonkolili, Koinadugu and Kailahun districts -.the four most vulnerable districts in the country. She added that they formed 170 village saving and loan association in the districts and 2,122 youths received vocational skills. “The program was to empower and increase money at household levels,” she said.

She added that Ebola and poor road infrastructure were among the challenges they encounter when implementing the SNAP Project.

Deputy Chief Agricultural Office at Ministry of Agriculture Forestry and Food Security (MAFFS), Sheku Tejan Kamara said the SNAP project was very successful. He said they will make sure, as a government they continue with the innovation.

He explained that the vehicles and office equipment that the U.S Mission and its implementing partners handed over to the government will be used by MAFFS and Ministry of Health and Sanitation.