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The climate crisis directly impacts children in Sierra Leone, with an increasing number of climate-related shocks exacerbating child poverty and inequality through the disruption of family livelihoods, education and adverse effects on natural resources. Photo credit: Jonathan Hyams / Save the Children

Major New Climate Resilience Project Launches in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone (March 06, 2024) –  People facing rising seas, fiercer storms and hotter weather along Sierra Leone's coast will benefit from a significant new US$26.8 million initiative announced today by the Green Climate Fund, Sierra Leone's government, and the NGO Save the Children.

The Sierra Leone Coastal Resilience Project will empower communities to plan for climate change and improve their livelihoods. The initiative aims to reach 260,000 people directly and expects an additional one million people to benefit from it. It includes the conservation and restoration of 1,500 hectares of mangrove ecosystems.

Working with local partners, the five-year project will increase people's food and water security, support education, enhance social inclusion and boost health and wellbeing. Improving opportunities for women, youth, and children – who are especially vulnerable to climate change – will be a crucial focus of the project across all five coastal districts of the West African country. This will include supporting more than 70 schools to increase their resilience and improve teaching on climate change. Planning and governance for climate adaptation will also be strengthened at the local and national levels, paving the way for further investments.

The climate crisis directly impacts children in Sierra Leone, with an increasing number of climate-related shocks exacerbating child poverty and inequality through the disruption of family livelihoods, education and adverse effects on natural resources. 

The Green Climate Fund's grant of US$25 million is complemented by co-financing from the Government of Sierra Leone's Environment Protection Agency, the law firm Clifford Chance and Jersey Overseas Aid.

Save the Children in Australia CEO, Mat Tinkler, said:

"Children and families on Sierra Leone's coast are facing increasing storms and floods, hotter temperatures and rising sea levels. This locally-led adaptation project will equip communities with the resources they need to adopt climate-resilient practices in farming, fishing, education, water use and ecosystem management. Importantly, it will enable community members, especially women and young people, to access more opportunities and develop businesses. Save the Children is proud to see its fourth project approved by the Green Climate Fund and to support communities in Sierra Leone to implement their plans to address the impacts of climate change, helping to safeguard their futures."

Green Climate Fund Executive Director Mafalda Duarte said:

"The Green Climate Fund is committed to supporting the most vulnerable and empowering local communities and nature to thrive together. We're proud to partner with Save the Children to ensure frontline communities in Sierra Leone's low-lying coastal areas have the tools to urgently build a more resilient future. I'm particularly pleased the initiative will work to restore 1,500 hectares of mangrove ecosystems, a powerful nature-based solution that needs further investment globally."

Executive Chairman of the Environment Protection Agency, Government of Sierra Leone, Dr. Abu Bakar Massaquoi, said:

"On behalf of the Government and people of Sierra Leone, I extend my deepest thanks to the esteemed members of the GCF board for their unwavering support and the approval of the coastal resilience project for our nation. This milestone represents far more than a mere approval. It is a testament to the collective recognition by the government and our partners, SCA and SCI, of the unique vulnerabilities coastal communities face and the imperative to take proactive measures to protect them. Through this project, we have an opportunity to implement innovative solutions, harnessing nature-based approaches and sustainable practices to strengthen our coastal defences. We will work hand-in-hand with local communities, empowering them to participate actively in the decision-making process and ensuring their voices are heard and valued".

Deputy Carolyn Labey, Jersey's Minister for International Development, said:

"It is a privilege to partner on the Sierra Leone Coastal Resilience Project, and we are proud to see today's official approval—an important milestone in vital efforts to tackle the climate crisis. This project focuses on one of Jersey's key development priorities: the protection of fragile ecosystems through the provision of sustainable livelihoods for their inhabitants. We hope our contribution to the project's financing will further empower coastal communities in Sierra Leone on the frontlines of climate change and ensure lasting impact for future generations."

Tom Dunn, Global Pro Bono and Community Director at Clifford Chance said:

"The Sierra Leone, Climate Resilience Project, sits at the critical intersection between environmental sustainability and social wellbeing, which is also a core part of our foundation's work to help deliver positive and sustainable action in the communities around the world where our clients and the NGOs we work with do business. It's an honor to collaborate with the Green Climate Fund, Sierra Leone's government, and our long-term partner, Save the Children. We look forward to continuing to work together for maximum impact and to build a more resilient future for the communities affected by the effects of climate change."

This is Save the Children's fourth project with the Green Climate Fund and the first in sub-Saharan Africa, following the approval of major climate resilience and adaptation programmes in Lao PDR in November 2023Solomon Islands in July 2023 and Vanuatu in May 2022.

This important project will be implemented in partnership with the Environment Protection Agency Sierra Leone, communities and local NGOs, following extensive consultations with stakeholders.

The Green Climate Fund's board approved financing for the project at its meeting today in Kigali, Rwanda. Representatives from the Green Climate Fund and Save the Children signed the project agreement alongside the government representative from the Environment Protection Agency of Sierra Leone.


Notes to Editors:

  • The project is supported primarily by a US$25 million grant from the Green Climate Fund. The project's design process was supported by Drs. Sam and Diana Kirschner, the IKEA Foundation, Clifford Chance and American Express.
  • The Green Climate Fund (GCF) is the world's largest dedicated climate fund. GCF's mandate is to foster a paradigm shift towards low-emission, climate-resilient development pathways in developing countries. GCF has a portfolio of projects and programs across more than 100 countries. It also has a readiness support program to build capacity and help countries develop long-term plans to fight climate change. The GCF is an operating entity of the financial mechanism of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). It serves the 2015 Paris Agreement, supporting the goal of keeping average global temperature rise well below 2 degrees Celsius.
  •  In 2019, Save the Children in Australia became the first development/humanitarian NGO accredited by the GCF, allowing the agency to partner with developing countries and apply for project funding. Save the Children Australia has long been a leader in climate change programming for the global Save the Children movement and leverages its significant global network of specialist technical advisers working in climate change, disaster risk reduction, health, water and sanitation, livelihoods, agriculture, and food security to develop and deliver climate programs.
  • Save the Children Sierra Leone has worked in the country for over twenty years on climate change and disaster risk reduction, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), education, livelihoods, child protection, gender equality, health and nutrition.
  • Local implementing partners will be the NGOs Kaddro, Concern Worldwide (CWW), Conservation Society of Sierra Leone (CSSL), and Environment Foundation for Africa Sierra Leone (EFA-SL).

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