Sierra Leone or the Republic of Sierra Leone is West African country that borders to the north and east with Guinea, to the southeast with Liberia, and to the west and southwest with Atlantic Ocean. It is a beautiful country with white sand beaches, orange and coconut trees all around, and people of good hearts; however Sierra Leone or Sa Lone in its native language, Krio, has been underdeveloped and was struggling for many years to gain its independence as a British Colony.
Even thou, now Sierra Leone is a constitutional republic and got its independence 49-years ago, the country has been struggling with rebellious forces called Revolutionary United Force, and the corrupted government. Now, Sierra Lone is facing not only economic issues as one of the poorest nation in Africa, but also political issues that are triggered by years of the civil war and violence under Joseph Saidu Momoh, who was the President at the time, as well as social events that took an enormous lead on the country today’s situation.
I would like to present the nature of underdevelopment of Sierra Leone based on economic issues such as: high poverty, economic dependence on advanced countries, and underdevelopment of industrialization and infrastructure because of the corrupt government. First, the economic underdevelopments of Third Word countries are characterized by: high poverty, high birthrates, and increasing population on small land-areas (Chaliand).
Based on Sierra Leone’s Biodiversity and the Civil War Document, Sierra Leone’s poverty belongs to one of the highest among all African countries with 57% living on less than $1 dollar/day and 74% living on less than $2 dollars/day. While high poverty is a huge issue to Sierra Leoneans, high illiteracy (35% and low life expectancy (42 years for both sexes) are directly connected to the living standards in the country and equally affect one another ( Earth Trends The Environmental Information Portal).
With rising poverty, diminishing resources such as: money, the number of illiterate adults increases, as well as the life expectancy decreases because of the lack of proper nutrition, high rate of HIV/AIDS, and deadly disease-malaria, “which accounts for almost 40 per cent of all deaths of children under five. It is a shocking statistic, especially considering that malaria is both preventable and curable. But the government of Sierra Leone cannot afford the vast sums needed to tackle the real sources of the disease – such as dirty water because of the lack of money” (Country Profile: Sierra Leone, 2010).
Continuing, with high poverty that is affected by underdeveloped economy, the number of births is rapidly increasing. Sierra Leone is ranked number 5 among all countries around the world with 45 births/ 1000 population comparing to the U. S. with only 14 births/1000 population (People Statistics: Birth Rate by Country). This high birthrate is due to a lack of protection, high price of contraceptive pills that women cannot afford, lack of free sex-education programs, and enormous rate of rapes especially during the civil war.
Moreover, the population of Sierra Leone was estimated in 2000 to be roughly 5. 2 million, with 2. 5 million people who have been displaced as refugees, mostly to Guinea and Liberia and the capitol, Freetown, was estimated at over 1. 2 million in 1994 ( Sierra Leone). With increasing population of Sierra Leone, the cities are so congested because of the effect of the civil war that made people who lived in rural areas to come to big cities and look for the government protection from the rebels.
Based on those facts, Sierra Leone as a small country with increasing population is facing many economic issues that led the country to be underdeveloped and depended on more advanced countries. In fact, Sierra Leone belongs to underdeveloped Third World Countries, the economic underdevelopment is very visible and the country has been geared to the needs of industrialized countries, they often comprise only a few modern economic activities, such as mining or the cultivation of plantation crops.
Sierra Leonean’s economy has been increasing; however it will take many years to achieve the level of equilibrium between the demand of people’s expectations and needs, and supply from the government to fulfill all these needs. Even thou, Sierra Leone has great natural resources such as: diamonds, gold and bauxite, the country has been struggling with a legal mining of those resources due to a power conflict between the government and rebel’s forces as well as international influence.
The dependence of Sierra Leone on more advanced countries, just like in any other example of underdeveloped countries, has been described as: unfair exploitation of human resources, human greed and high price to avoid starvation for Sierra Leonean nation. The relationship is based on uneven opportunities. The advanced countries are taking advantage on their exports of products such as: rice, potatoes, or even drinkable water to Sierra Leone in return for natural resources such as: diamonds that most of the times are being exploited illegally or against human rights.
Because Sierra Leone doesn’t have money to pay back or provide products to be exported, the country depends on the foreign aid. One of the members of the Parliament said: “Strategically, trade is the engine of growth. If Kenya has tea, Ghana has coffee and Botswana has beef for trade, can Sierra Leone not export its cocoa and other agricultural products to China, the EU and even to the United States? Sierra Leone’s new vision must be to move away from the economic of aid and dependency, and towards the economic of the Industrial Revolution” (Sierra Leone to Reduce Dependency on Foreign Aid).
Also, On August 17, 2010 current President of Sierra Leone, Ernest Bai Koroma, disclosed that “his government is committed to reducing our dependence on foreign aid by increasing internally generated revenue“(Sierra Leone to Reduce Dependency on Foreign Aid, 2009). The last argument describing Sierra Leone’s economic underdevelopments is the fact that it lacks infrastructure and industrialization due to corrupted government. The country “is lacking of electricity, weakened public institutions, poor governance, and unethical leadership are the colossal symptoms of the collective challenges and weak economy.
Additionally, government has permeated corruption in an abstract or non-strategic sense that, a low or no salary payment has triggered the institutionalization of corrupt practices in the civil services and the police force” (Sierra Leone’s Common Enemies: Poverty and Underdevelopment, 2010). A decade of civil war destroyed the country completely and the human resource capacity’s has been affected as well; “The road system is in serious need of repair, as the lack of resources has led to neglect.
The small railway system is used very infrequently because the mines it leads to have been closed” (Sierra Leone). Continuing, the underdeveloped economy has been influenced by corrupted government that instead of protecting the rights and living standards of many Sierra Leoneans, exploited its nation, sold many valuable resources to advanced countries in exchange for power and control over the diamond mines which was the main objective for the war.
After many years of struggling and war President Koroma said:”It is time for a new thinking and a new economic order that must lift us from the cycle of poverty and social deprivation. We need to fight poverty with a three prong approach: Investment in education, advancement in new technology and the promotion of new trade with our donor partners” (President Koroma’s Speech to Parliament, 2009). Sierra Leone is the poorest and the smallest country in Africa.
Over the years, it’s been struggling with many issues: the civil war that took a place in 1991-2001 and left many scars, economic, political and social dilemmas. From my personal experience and my trip to Sierra Leone last year, this country has a lot to offer but the government needs to step up and take care of many responsibilities such as: put more attention to the level of education, work on infrastructure and industrialization, support small businesses and invest in health care.
Even thou, it’s been just few years after the civil war ended, the country struggles the most with its economic problems such as: high poverty, high birthrate, high illiteracy, dependency on the advanced countries that most of the time take the advantage of the poorer countries and lack of infrastructure. As one of the members of Parliament said: “We can make Sierra Leone become a full participant in the global society and help to create wealth or income for our citizens through private sector jobs and small business opportunities on a national level, provide opportunities through education, technology and investment.
This will eliminate the real enemy: Poverty” ( Sierra Leone’s Common Enemies: Poverty and Underdevelopment). I absolutely agree with that statement and would like to see Sierra Leone as a successful, tourists-oriented country that has a lot to offer. References: Country Profile: Sierra Leone. (2010, January 28). Retrieved August 20, 2010, from BBC News, http://news. bbc. co. uk/2/hi/africa/country_profiles/1061561. stm Chaliand, G. (n. d. ). Third World Traveler. Retrieved August 18, 2010, from http://www. thirdworldtraveler. om/General/ThirdWorld_def. html Earth Trends: The Envirnomental Information Portal. (n. d. ). Retrieved August 18, 2010, from http://earthtrends. wri. org/povlinks/country/sierra-leone. php People Statistics: Birth Rate by Country. (n. d. ). Retrieved August 20, 2010, from NationMaster, http://www. nationmaster. com/graph/peo_bir_rat-people-birth-rate President Koroma’s Speech to Parliament. (2009, October 12). Retrieved August 15, 2010, http://www. sierraexpressmedia. com/archives/12645 Sierra Leone. (n. d. ).
Retrieved August 20, 2010, from Encyclopedia of the Nations, Sierra Leone – Location and size, Population, Manufacturing, Services, Tourism, Financial services http://www. nationsencyclopedia. com/economies/Africa/Sierra-Leone. html#ixzz0x7LelymZ Sierra Leone to Reduce Dependency on Foreign Aid. (n. d. ),(2009, August 17). Retrieved August 17, 2010, from Daily Mail, http://www. sierraleonedailymail. com/archives/10 Sierra Leone’s Common Enemies: Poverty and Underdevelopment (2010, August 16). Retrieved August 15, 2010, from Sierra Express Media, http://www. sierraexpressmedia. com/archives/12645