According to the Global Hunger Index 2021, which was adopted by the International Food Policy Research Institute, Sierra Leone is among the top 10 nations most affected by hunger and malnutrition, with a score of 31.3.

Somalia is rated the world hungriest nation with an index of 50.8. Yemen followed with an index of 45.1. The World Hunger Index combines three indicators: undernourishment, child underweight, and child mortality.

The Global Hunger Index (GHI) is a tool designed to comprehensively measure and track hunger at global, regional, and national levels.

GHI scores are calculated each year to assess progress and setbacks in combating hunger. The GHI is designed to raise awareness and understanding of the struggle against hunger, provide a way to compare levels of hunger between countries and regions, and call attention to those areas of the world where hunger levels are highest and where the need for additional efforts to eliminate hunger is greatest.

“In the 2021 Global Hunger Index, Sierra Leone ranks 106th out of the 116 countries with sufficient data to calculate 2021 GHI scores. Sierra Leone has a level of hunger that is serious,” the report stated.

They added that, “Progress in Sierra Leone has suffered from a combination of major crises and bad timing: The country had just begun to recover from an 11-year civil war (1991-2002) when it became one of the epicenters of the West African Ebola outbreak (2014-16). The following year, it had one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world, and is now facing the pandemic’s impact on food insecurity.”

In the West African Region, Sierra Leone is ranked 2, next to Liberia. Sierra Leone however has the highest hunger levels in West Africa with more than a quarter of its citizens undernourished, and a child mortality rate of 10.9%.

A recent study by the World Food Programme (WFP) says that over 4.7 million people out of a population of just over 7 million in Sierra Leone are food insecure. This means that 66 percent of the population cannot meet their basic food needs.

The study reveals that the number of people facing severe hunger in the country has tripled in the last decade and food insecurity has deepened at the same time the prices of rice and cassava have quadrupled.
Sierra Leone relies heavily on imports to feed its people though agriculture is the main livelihood for most Sierra Leoneans.

WFP says agriculture in Sierra Leone is heavily labour intensive, and most farmers don’t have access to improved seeds, fertilisers and tools, leading to low agricultural production.

WFP notes that most farmers rely on imported food, including rice, and “only 2 percent of farmers produce enough rice to meet the needs of their family for the whole year”.