SEND SL and WHH hand over water facilities to remote communities in Eastern Sierra Leone

Twelve communities in the Eastern District of Kenema with more than 8,000 people have benefitted from water wells through the intervention of SEND Sierra Leone in partnership with WHH.

For the past 10 years the women and children of Beyiema have struggled to fetch water from the nearby stream

The wells included 9 hand-dug wells and 3 gravity systems (37 stand posts). The 12 communities are in Gaura, Nomo and Tunkia chiefdoms. Four communities were rehabilitation and five communities were new constructions.

The symbolic handing over of the water facilities took place in Beiyema village in Tunkia chiefdom on 10th December, 2019. Beyiema is close to the Liberia border.

The village has been without a functional water well for the past 10 years since the pump’s head got damaged and they have learnt some bitter lessons.

“We never knew the importance of the water well until it got damaged due to reckless handling,” said the Village Chief, Lansana Konneh.

“For the past ten years we have to rely on stream water. Thanks to SEND Sierra Leone and their partners for their intervention and for giving us a second chance. Now we know what to do.”

He said they would institute bye-laws to ensure proper management of the water well and its environment. The bye-laws will include opening and closing time, and regular cleaning of the well area.

Part of the project also involved training of the community people on how to take care of the well and raise funds among themselves for maintenance purposes, according to WASH Coordinator Sulaiman Sheriff.

Giving the keynote address during the ceremony, the representative from the Kenema District Council, Joseph Mbaina,admonished the community to take ownership of the water well and ensure it was properly utilized.

“When you take good care of the well, you will have less cases of disease outbreak because you are drinking clean water and also using it for cooking and washing,” he said.

He further warned the elders to ensure the monies that would be generated through contributions should not be used for any other purpose other than the maintenance of the well.

Also speaking at the handing over ceremony is the representative from the District Health Management Team (DHMT), Tommy Gassimu. He emphasized the importance of maintaining hygiene in the village.

“Do not dry your clothes on the fence of the water well; brush around the well area about 10 to 15 feet away,” he appealed, adding that the DHMT would start to monitor the management and upkeep of water wells in all communities.

Equally, the representative of the Ministry of Water Resources, Augustine Songa Amara, empahsised the importance of water to life, stressing that clean water helps to prevent sickness.

Amara noted that contamination of water normally occurs during the process of fetching it and admonished the community to be mindful of the containers they keep water and how they use it at home.

The WHH representative, Santigie Kanu, said the repair, rehabilitation and construction of the water facilities are part of the LANN+ project (Linking Agriculture to Natural Resources and Nutrition).

“It’s a complete package, adopting new things around sanitation,” he said, adding that the project is funded by the Federal Cooperation of Germany.

Meanwhile, SEND Sierra Leone Head of Project, Thomas Juana, said the emphasis is on hygiene which would lead to good health and prolonged life. He appealed to the communities to keep the water clean and safe at all times, from the well to their houses.

He also commended the communities for embracing development.

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: The Spotlight on Bonthe

By Ahmed Sahid Nasralla (De Monk)

The eroding sea-face wall is a concern for the people of Bonthe

In January 2015, during the Ebola outbreak, I arrived in Bonthe Sherbro Island, Southern Sierra Leone, leading a team of young reporters covering districts that were recording 42 days without any Ebola case. Bonthe District was the only district that did not record a single Ebola case throughout the deadly outbreak. But the once powerful Island was suffering from a much more severe man-made disease relating to political neglect, rejection and dejection. The frustration of the almost 10,000 inhabitants was summed by their exuberant Mayor Layemin Joe Sandi in his call for an ‘urgent Cabinet decision’ to rescue Bonthe District from its predicament (see:

Four years later, I traveled to Bonthe with NGO SEND Sierra Leone to officially launch a project for safe drinking water for 50 remote communities in the Sherbro Islands of Dema and Sittia chiefdoms. Now that there’s a new President of Sierra Leone who happens to hail from Bonthe District, I ask Mayor Sandi what is the mood in the island and what has changed in the essential areas of political administration, education, health, economy, security and sports.


At the moment the District Officer who used to be at the Mattru Jong chiefdom has relocated. We have started interfacing with the different organizations in communities and this is laudable and encouraging.

In terms of hearing our voice and central government hearing our plans, it has changed. Now we go to offices, they listen and attend to us positively; for example, the Ministry of Works and the Sierra Leone Roads Authority. When we take the concern of the sea face wall, in-township road project on the poor way it was done, they have changed the entire concept. They are doing a different work in terms of the topography we have. As I am talking to you know, the sea face wall and in-township road projects are ongoing but the only challenge we have at the moment is the landing of materials because it is a riverine area. This is slowing down the implementation and our fear now is whether they are going to complete the projects on time if this challenge continues.

The Ministry of Social welfare is equally doing well for us in the delivery of services from the Council.

We want to take good advantage of the current political will and fix the issues affecting Bonthe as the District Headquarter Town.


Bonthe is a fine place to promote education. Council has launched the Free Quality Education Program (FQEP) and the support is coming from the government. Books have been distributed to schools but more is yet to be actualized. Schools that are supposed to receive subsidies are getting that but our biggest challenge is that the school buildings are colonial in nature.

But if the scheme is to succeed, then government should pay more attention to teachers and also infrastructure because when a child has a comfortable environment to learn, then he/she will learn faster.

The greatest challenge in the Sherbro Island has been water and the water we are drinking has a lot of salt in it. The water resembles clay. There is no school with WASH facilities not to talk about good toilet. We are advocating to the Ministry to provide us with wells to solve the problem of water.


We have been doing well in the area of health and Council has been collaborating effectively with CUAMM (Doctors with Africa) Sierra Leone because their response in the hospital is great as they have strengthened it with a blood bank, solar lights, funds for fuel and lubricants which complements our efforts and ensure that things are working in the hospital.

They are also providing referral services for pregnant women and that has reduced maternal mortality in the municipality. As a Council, we are ensuring that if the organization is doing all of these, we make sure that food is in the hospital throughout. Also, we have ensured that we provide essential drugs that are not in the hospital free-of-cost for especially pregnant women, children under-five and the aged.

Council is also providing support to the doctors. I was reliably informed that government has been paying housing allowances for doctors but nothing has been working in that direction. Interestingly, Council has been paying for housing for doctors.

Also, we will start providing tea and other incentives for nurses, especially those who are not on salary, who stay late at night with pregnant women so that they will be motivated to do more.

The monthly cleaning introduced by President Maada Bio has made Bonthe one of the cleanest places in the country. Council is engaging 1,100 youths with all of them receiving Le40,000 each. A total of Le44, 000,000 is being injected every first Saturday into the community.

Council has further purchased cleaning tools and motorbikes for monitoring during the cleaning exercise. We ensure the total involvement of all 18 Sectional Heads to add up to the team of Council Staff and Councilors who ably supervise the monthly cleaning exercise. Six million Leones for coordination is used to motivate them and fuel provided for bikes to facilitate the monitoring process.

Additionally, Council and the people of Bonthe Sherbro Island are happy and grateful to the ngo SEND Sierra Leone and their donors for their just-launched project which seeks to ensure our people have clean drinking water and other WASH facilities.


The solar street lights have outlived their usefulness but we have been able to attract 200 modernized street lights, although we actually need more.

Economic opportunities

At the moment, economic activity is very poor which is why we are advocating for us to go into tourism because we believe that we can turn around the economy. Because of the low income earners we have in the district, we have low quality and substandard goods in the market. The fish processing sites we have are still not been utilized. We are working with the Fisheries ministry to ensure that they are fully operationalized.

Honestly, the economy of Bonthe is nothing to write home about and having infrastructure in place is a basic requirement in tourism.

Our sources of revenue are taxes, house rates and market dues but to get the people to honour these obligations is a huge challenge for Council. If we want to implement the law to the letter, then it will be a problem. The population size of Bonthe is almost about 10,000.

We want Dema and Sittia to be part of Bonthe. We are being faced with the actualities of the day and Council should be able to generate its own revenue to sustain it.


In the area of sports, we have been collaborating with SLADEA and their Bread for the World project has constructed a perimeter fence around the football field. It has been there for a while with no one to assist us. We have taken the issue to the Sport ministry and they have pledged to work collaboratively with Council to have a mini stadium with a football field.


We are still deprived in the area of security. The police barracks is still here empty, with no police officers. At the moment, we only have 10 police officers to man the entire municipality and the entire Sherbro islands of Dema and Sittia. We are expecting the police to have their presence everywhere to ensure control of crime.


We have challenges with other institutions but what is stressing the Council so much is staffing. Staffs are sent to us on punishment grounds. We have let the local government service commission know that if they send any staff now on punishment grounds, we will reject them out rightly. We think transfer should be fairly done and staff should not be made aware that they are being transferred to far away Bonthe on punishment grounds as they will not give their best. Every staff in the local council family should be given a fair opportunity to taste of every environment in this country and not special staff for special councils. Some of them who are currently here on punishment come in some time once a week and that undermines the operation of the Council as well as service delivery and writing of reports. We see it as a disservice to the Council and the country as a whole.

Credit: Development and Economic Journalists Association (DEJA-SL).

Mondelēz International Takes Minority Investment in Uplift Food Start-Up

Mondelēz International announced it has taken a minority investment in Uplift Food, a US-based early-stage start-up focusing on prebiotic functional foods. This is the first venture investment the company is making as part of SnackFutures, the company’s innovation and venture hub aimed at unlocking snacking growth opportunities around the world.

A key pillar of the company’s consumer-centric growth strategy, SnackFutures is designed as an independent hub that brings three core tenets of growth under one umbrella to accelerate innovation: invention of new brands and businesses; reinvention of small-scale brands with large-scale potential, and venture investments with start-up entrepreneurs.

“As the global snacking leader, we’re on a clear mission to lead the future of snacking by providing the right snack, for the right moment, made the right way,” said Tim Cofer, Executive Vice President and Chief Growth Officer of Mondelēz International. “Together with Uplift Food, we have a unique opportunity to disrupt the functional food category by delivering ‘snackable’ products focusing on gut health – something that does not exist today.”

Functional snacking is a strategic area for SnackFutures as consumers are increasingly looking for their snacks to deliver benefits but options are currently limited. The SnackFutures team will work with Uplift Food to make gut health more understandable, accessible, and enjoyable through new forms and flavors. Beyond the financial investment, SnackFutures will also provide strategic support in areas like marketing, distribution, R&D and sourcing.

“Partnering with SnackFutures will undeniably strengthen Uplift Food’s capacity to live our mission of seeing everyone benefit from the consumption of gut healthy foods. The SnackFutures team provides the industry experience needed to make our dream a reality, and the continued support they show us to hold onto our nutritional and ingredient integrity allows us to remain true to our core values and grow,” said Kara Landau, Dietitian and Founder Uplift Food.

Supported by an unconventional ecosystem of best-in-class internal experts and external partners around the globe, SnackFutures seeks to collaborate in three key strategic areas: well-being snacks, premium snacks, digital platforms and capabilities. 

Public-Private Partnerships Are Key To Addressing Childhood Obesity

The Mondelēz International Foundation on Monday announced the publication of a new study on the impact of Mondelēz International Foundation healthy lifestyles initiatives in the June edition of Food and Nutrition Bulletin.

Fundacion-Mondelez.jpgConducted by Dr. Rafael Pérez-Escamilla, Professor of Public Health & Director, Office of Public Health Practice at the Yale School of Public Health, and funded by the Foundation, the independent analysis titled “Innovative healthy lifestyles school-based public-private partnerships designed to Curb the Childhood Obesity Epidemic Globally: Lessons Learned from the Mondelēz International Foundation” identified key factors that have led to successful public-private partnerships across seven countries.

For more than nine years, the Mondelēz International Foundation has partnered with non-profit organizations across the world to support the delivery and evaluation of school-based healthy lifestyle programs. The findings published today provide learnings on how future public-private partnerships seeking to promote healthy lifestyles and help curb the risk of obesity can successfully be established.

“The Foundation and its partners around the world have created an effective framework for healthy lifestyle school-based public-private partnerships,” said Pérez-Escamilla. “As outlined in the paper, there is strong evidence that shows programs across all five continents are having a positive impact on nutrition and physical activity knowledge and practices.”

Qualitative data used to evaluate the Foundation’s partnerships was collected from two program evaluation workshops in 2013 and 2016, as well as from the Foundation’s annual country reports and project report, and interviews with key leaders from each program.

“Through effective partnerships with locally based organizations, we’ve transformed the lives of millions of children and families around the globe by improving nutrition knowledge, physical activity and access to fresh produce,” said Sarah Delea, President of the Mondelēz International Foundation. “We’re inspired by the change we’ve seen in those programs and hope that Dr. Pérez-Escamilla’s study in Food and Nutrition Bulletin will inspire others to make an impact through public-private partnerships.”

Supporting this review, data from program reports and surveys commissioned by partner organizations between 2014 through 2016 also indicated solid progress in both knowledge and behavior change. Specifically, across the Foundation programs, there was a twelve-percent increase in understanding what good nutrition is, including knowing the number of fruits and vegetables to eat daily; a six-percent increase in physical activity to at least 30 minutes daily; and an eleven-percent increase in eating more fruits, vegetables and other fresh foods, as part of the gardening programs.

The Foundation and its programs support Mondelēz International’s Impact For Growth platform, which is focused on four key areas where the company can make the greatest impact on people and planet: community, sustainability, well-being snacks and safety.

Mondelēz International, Inc. (NASDAQ:MDLZ) is building the best snacking company in the world, with 2017 net revenues of approximately $26 billion. Creating more moments of joy in approximately 160 countries, Mondelēz International is a world leader in biscuits, chocolate, gum, candy and powdered beverages, featuring global Power Brands such as Oreo and belVita biscuitsCadbury Dairy Milk and Milka chocolate; and Trident gum.  Mondelēz International is a proud member of the Standard and Poor’s 500, Nasdaq 100 and Dow Jones Sustainability Index.

The Mondelēz International Foundation is the international philanthropic arm of Mondelēz International. The Foundation is focused on three areas of action: investing in community programs that promote healthy lifestyles in at-risk communities around the world; providing humanitarian aid through cash and product when disaster strikes; and inspiring colleagues to contribute time and talent to help our local communities thrive. To learn more about our efforts,

80 percent of Nigerian girls are potential victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation on their way to Europe

Amid political instability, poverty and increasing migration of people from Africa to Europe, IOM report says 80 percent of the younger girls from Nigeria are potential victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation.

nigeria victims

IOM staff Italy, meeting with a migrant. Photo: UN Migration Ageny (IOM) 2017

According to IOM Italy, over the past three years, an almost 600 per cent increase in the number of potential sex trafficking victims arriving in Italy by sea, and that this upward trend has continued during the first six months of 2017, with most victims arriving from Nigeria.

This is one of the key findings of a new report published by IOM, the UN Migration Agency, Human Trafficking through the Central Mediterranean Route, which was released in Italian this week (21 July) by IOM’s Coordination Office for the Mediterranean in Rome. An English version will be available soon.

Among other findings, the report states that sexual exploitation increasingly involves younger girls – often minors – who are already subject to violence and abuse on their way to Europe. IOM estimates that 80 per cent of girls arriving from Nigeria – whose numbers have soared from 1,454 in 2014 to 11,009 in 2016 – are potential victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation.

The report is based on data collected by IOM at landing sites and in reception centres for migrants in the regions of southern Italy, where the Organization carries out identification of potential victims and assists those who, once identified, decide to escape their exploiters and accept IOM support.

“Trafficking is a transnational crime that devastates the lives of thousands of people and is the cause of untold suffering,” said Federico Soda, Director of the IOM Coordinating Office for the Mediterranean. “This is a theme we have been working on for years, committing to protect, prevent and collaborate with the authorities dealing with organized crime.”

IOM Project Manager Carlotta Santarossa added: “The report describes the organization’s activities in the face of this phenomenon: the difficulties in protecting victims and the main vulnerabilities identified among several cases of people who were assisted by the Organization. We also wanted to tell some of the stories of people who have been assisted by IOM staff to highlight the true nature of this painful and hateful form of slavery. We also feel that it is increasingly urgent that data analysis be accompanied by an examination of the market these girls supply, and the growing demand for paid sexual services.”

Praekelt Foundation to launch chatbot for messenger for South African National Dept. of Health

Through the advent of Messenger and bots, messaging platforms have rapidly increased their impact in reaching users with life-changing content. Leading this technological evolution in low and middle income countries, the Praekelt Foundation (www.PraekeltFoundation.orgwill launch a new chatbot for Messenger integrated into the South African Nation Department of Health’s MomConnect,at the 21st International AIDS Conference in Durban on July 19, 2016. The bot will provide mothers a more affordable, engaging way to access the stage-based messages currently provided by the technology’s SMS services.

Founded in 2007, Praekelt Foundation uses open source technologies to deliver essential information and inclusive services to millions of people in low income countries.  With over ten million South Africans now on Facebook, and over 75% using it on their mobile devices, Praekelt has chosen to expand MomConnect services through the introduction of the bot. [1] The newest innovation in messaging technology, bots unlock the ability to provide personalized, interactive communication akin to talking to a human customer service or sales rep, but at scale for much cheaper than call centers.[2] 

MomConnect’s new bot will be seamlessly integrated into the existing platform, offering Messenger as a more financially affordable method in which mothers, nurses, and child health workers can access additional content and services.  With 900 million users, Messenger is one of the most-used chat apps on the planet with more than 11,000 bots added since the platform launched in April. [3] Messenger allows for larger character limits than SMS and none of the time-outs of USSD. Users send 60 billion messages per day using messenger – more than three times the global daily SMS volume. 

“We focus on providing innovative and scalable solutions for those in need of access to information in low income countries by keeping ahead of changing technology as well as the changing needs of the end user. We launched MomConnect in 2014, before the rise of Messenger.  To be relevant with the latest technologies, we have created a bot to integrate into the platform, as they allow mothers and health care professionals a cheaper way to access vital maternal health and HIV information personalized to them directly on their mobile devices.  We’re proud to lead their integration into health systems” Praekelt Foundation Founder and CEO, Gustav Praekelt noted.

Currently, MomConnect improves the supply of maternal health information in South Africa for over 850,000 subscribers.  These subscribers will now have access to maternal health information through Messenger.  Allowing HIV + mothers and those with high-risk pregnancies to have an alternative platform for receiving stage-based messages, the bot gives them access to a resource of information around HIV, pregnancy, delivery and a baby’s first year, as well as a future helpdesk to offer mothers a platform where they can have their questions answered by live operators and escalated to health professional.

“Stop Traditional Practices For Now To Stop Ebola”

Traditional healers have stepped-up social mobilization activities in Port Loko District and are urging their colleagues to stop traditional practices for now and focus in the fight against Ebola.

The National Public Relation Officer of the National Traditional Association of Sierra Leone, Mr. Shuaib Idriss Kamara said during an engagement with the District Social Mobilization Committee that people are accusing traditional healers for most of the cases since the outbreak OF Ebola virus disease in the country.
He said they will be monitoring the activities of their members at district and chiefdom level.
“There are about 35000 traditional healers in the country who are registered,” he said, adding that their major challenge is the lack of support from government and nongovernmental organizations.
“We are prepared and ready to complement government’s efforts to eradicate Ebola in Port Loko District,” he said.
The national president of the National Sowe Council of Sierra Leone, Madam Kadiatu Mansaray, said the outbreak in Kailahun district started from one of their members who got the disease from Guinea.
She said through education and sensitization they stopped the practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) but then urges government to support them for their livelihood because it is through FGM that they make their income.
“We will continue to stay in Port Loko District until we get to zero Ebola cases,” she said.
The representative of UNICEF, Madam Joy, thanked the National Traditional Association for their intervention in the fight against Ebola, adding that the District Social Mobilization Unit will support their operation.