From the street to the farm – how agriculture is improving the lives of amputees

For eleven years, a civil war ravaged Sierra Leone, leaving trails of destruction, pain and untold economic hardship. It is almost impossible for amputees and others who were wounded in the war to find ways to make a living. Many of them have resorted to street begging. But agriculture has come to the rescue.

Abdulai Koroma, a street beggar turned cashew farmer in Sierra Leone

Life has not been easy for us because of our condition. We were somehow neglected, which made our lives difficult. But things are now better for us” – Abdulai Conteh, a farmer in north-western Sierra Leone

Abdulai is one of the beneficiaries of the European Union-funded Boosting Agriculture and Food Security (BAFS) Programme which is being implemented by Solidaridad West Africa and the Cotton Tree Foundation. He is also the district chairman of the Amputees and War Wounded Association in Sierra Leone. We cannot just sit and accept handouts from the streets,” he says. We want to do something meaningful with our lives. That's why some of us have ventured into agriculture.” 

Broad skills training to boost livelihoods

The four-year programme (July 2019 – July 2023) seeks to improve farm-level productivity through good agronomic practices to boost farmers’ incomes and livelihoods. It also provides life and social skills, as well as basic business and entrepreneurial training to the farmers.

Solidaridad is supporting 20 females and 25 male amputees belonging to the National Amputee and War Wounded Association with innovative farming techniques like intercropping to improve their yields. Currently, the group is cultivating cashew and other crops on 17 hectares of land. With the help of Solidaridad and Cotton Tree Foundation, they hope to increase it to 40 hectares before the end of the 2020 planting season.

The intercropping technique has proved very useful. It has given us the opportunity to earn extra income from other crops and provided us with food” – Abdulai Conteh

Abdulai Conteh working on his cashew farm

Towards more sustainable and inclusive supply chains

The Boosting Agriculture and Food Security programme fits with the Solidaridad agenda of promoting sustainable and inclusive supply chains by leaving no one behind, in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.  It also helps farmers to adopt climate-smart farming practices to meet their food and nutritional needs.

Solidaridad is happy to partner with the European Union and the Cotton Tree Foundation to support the Sierra Leone government’s agenda to boost agriculture, improve food security and reduce poverty” – Nicholas Jengre, country representative for Solidaridad

>Read more about Solidaridad's work in West Africa