FAO launches new project in sierra leone



The HASTEN Project, a joint initiative between the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Governments of Rwanda, Lesotho, and Sierra Leone, empowers young leaders to drive agrifood system transformations. FAO, with its extensive technical expertise, is providing crucial assistance to launch the project this year and supporting its alignment with the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

An inception meeting was held on 6 May in Sierra Leona with the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security of Sierra Leone (MAFS) establish a common understanding of the project’s goals, objectives and scope among all stakeholders.

The Director of FAO’s Office of Sustainable Development Goals, Stefanos Fotiou, kicked things off by setting the tone of the Project, “HASTEN will hone the skills of young professionals in transdisciplinary systems thinking, equipping them with the tools necessary to tackle complex challenges in the agrifood sector.” He further highlighted why this Project is so critical, “empowering the next generation to better sustainably grow their agrifood systems is not just an option but an obligation. And it must begin today.  And, Africa’s young people offer extraordinary potential to achieve this.”

The meeting was also attended by Ms. Laurie Manderino, Development Finance and Partnership Officer, UN Office of the Resident Coordinator on behalf of the UN Resident Coordinator, who pointed out the critical connections and alignments with existing goals and plans in Sierra Leone, like its upcoming fifth Medium-Term National Development Plan (MTNDP) for 2024- 2030, which serves as the UN and SDG Acceleration Roadmap. Particularly within this plan, the country’s National Goal 2 (having a highly-skilled, healthy, inclusive, and Gender-sensitive labour force) and National Goal 5 (having a public service that is streamlined, attracts and keeps the brightest national talents and is generally robust in tackling challenges to sustainable development).

Sierra Leone has been categorized as a fragile state with chronic food insecurity because of periodic disruptions in food systems caused by natural disasters, disease outbreaks and socioeconomic factors. Furthermore, their food systems lack resiliency due to the increasing level of vulnerable populations with high levels of food insecurity over the past 15 years. However, the World Bank development indicators in agriculture, forestry, and fishing identify agrifood systems as having the largest share of national GDP (61%) and employing well over half of the labour force in the country (70%).

Madam Neneh Bah-Jalloh, Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Coordinator in the Office of the Vice President, remarked, ‘’As a country reliant on importing essential goods such as food and fuel, Sierra Leone is facing heightened challenges due to the volatility in international supply chains and surges in commodity prices. The ‘HASTEN Project’ will boost agriculture productivity to fuel inclusive growth, increase access and availability of locally produced nutrient-dense and safe food, reduce our dependence on food imports, reduce hunger, increase export earnings, create jobs and build a resilient food system.”

With approximately 33% of Sierra Leone’s population between 15 and 34 years old, it has one of the youngest populations globally. Therefore, focusing on youth education, skills and resources is essential to the country’s future. HASTEN hopes to provide transformational changes in young people to revitalize planning and implementation capacities for building sustainable agrifood systems in Sierra Leone.

HASTEN is co-led by the FAO Office of Sustainable Development Goals (OSG), FAO Regional Office for Africa (RAF), Subregional Office for Eastern Africa (SFE) and the Subregional Office for West Africa (SFW) and will be implemented in close collaboration with FAO Country Offices in Lesotho, Rwanda and Sierra Leone.


Mohamed Lamrana Jalloh

Communications Specialist, FAO in Sierra Leone


 Copyright –Published in print in Expo Times Newspaper on Friday, May 10TH, 2024 (ExpoTimes News – Expo Media Group (expomediasl.com)