Bo DA was established in 2005.
Bo DA provides support for Education projects, water and sanitation and HIV/and AIDS and is aimed at improving the national understanding of poverty and enhancing the advocacy capacity of ActionAid International Sierra Leone.This is a project-based intervention that is implemented in the Southern region of the country where ActionAid previously had non-DA projects.Kakua, Baoma and Wonde chiefdoms, which constitute the proposed DA3, is found in the central and South-East of Bo district comprising 15 chiefdoms located in the Southern region of Sierra Leone. It is bordered to the Northwest by Tonkolili district, Northeast by Kenema district, and Southwest by Bonthe and Moyamba districts and South by Pujehun district.The climate is mostly humid and tropical with two distinct seasons, rainy season, from April to October and dry season, November to March. The average rainfall is between 3,500 and 4,500 mm with cool dry and dusty Harmattan wind experienced between December and February during which night temperatures drop to as low as 20oC.The vegetation in the three chiefdoms is characteristics of secondary tropical rain forest interspersed by low thick shrubs with different types of trees mostly used for timber and various species of wild life, birds and rodents.The topography portrays patches of hills with generally undulating stretches of landscape. Soils are mostly sandy-loam with dark brown to black, granular, highly porous and slightly acidic generally good for agriculture. Crops such as rice, cassava, groundnut, maize, vegetables, oil palm, coffee and cocoa thrive well in the DA.Land is communally owned and held by local authorities as custodians. Generally, women only have user rights to the land for farming. This aspect of the culture militates against women who are denied ownership of such vital community resource amounting to the denial of basic rights. This cultural practice provides opportunity for ActionAid to actively engage in advocacy and Policy work to ensure equitable distribution of resources irrespective of gender and generation.Local administrative structureParamount Chiefs (PC) elected traditional leaders head chiefdoms in Kakua, Boama and Wonde. Chiefdoms are sub divided into sections (headed by Section Chiefs) and sections into towns (headed by Town Chiefs).Although there are female Paramount chiefs in some chiefdoms of the southern and eastern region, this tradition is not accepted in other parts of the country, especially in the north.Population characteristicsThe proposed DA has an estimated population of 257,097 in 283 villages (Women account for 51.7 %,). Among the ethnic groups, mende the major exists alongside sherbro, Temne, Susu, Fula and Mandigo. Islam and Christianity form the most religious practise. Mende is the predominant language but Krio, the lingua franca is also widely spoken in the DA.Poverty and Wealth AnalysisThe communities in the Proposed DA perceive poverty in different ways. However the most common perceptions were:Condition in which an individual couldn’t afford the basic necessities in life e.g. food, clothing, shelter and medication, an instance where one fails to bring up children, a sick person incapable of finding a living for him/herself, laziness, lack of cash, absence of resources/assets that generate income e.g. plantation, educated children or business organisation, death, haggard looking (no clothing), heavily indebted dependent on others, destiny and lack of male children.All of the above could be caused by several of the following: sent down by God( destiny ), conflict, bad governance, bad planning and management of resources, laziness/lethargy leading to low productivity, prolonged illness and disability, childlessness, lack of education( skills ),lack of savings and investment, curse, polygamy and extended family burden.The poverty situation in the DA is evident each year in the months of May to September known as the hungry period. This is characterized by high incidences of diseases and malnutrition. Only 3.2% have access to protected water sources in the DA against 21%, the national average for rural areas. Poor environmental sanitation and hygiene practices results in contamination of water sources and other health hazards. Socio-economic impactAtrocities committed during the war subjected 50% of the population to displacement, overcrowding and poor sanitation in communities and camps which resulted to outbreaks of disease incidences. Members in such communities were not only displaced but also lost all personal effects and social services like schools, health centres and hospitals, protected water sources and dwelling houses.These structures were systematically either damaged or looted by warring factions. Hundreds of household heads were also either killed or died due to lack of social facilities. The killing and abduction of household heads contributed to increased female-headed households who forcefully went through unwarranted psychological stress as a result of the added roles and responsibilities. Violation of rights was arbitrary also as a result of the low level of literacy. During the war there was total breakdown of law and order hence authority no longer existed, individuals and their assets were therefore targeted and looted with impunity.Suspicion among households and families leading to the destruction of needs of the very poor were high. The destruction of this social fabric exposed vulnerable community members to the realities of poverty further deteriorating their condition. The cultural institutions such as secret societies were still being used to promote respect for local leadership.The Economy and Social ServicesThe most important economic activities included agriculture, forestry, small-scale businesses, fishing and mining. 80% of the population gained employment in agriculture sector, although this required some amount of development due to its low profit turn over.The mining sector, a major contributor to the national revenue is been resuscitated with widely practised illicit mining in Kakua and Baoma chiefdoms. The national budget is mainly Donor driven and because of the deficit in revenue, the government has not been able to provide many social services. Although the national budget is inadequate, there are problems with allocation, utilization and administration. This situation was worsened by the war, which saw the destruction of social services like schools, health clinics etc. thereby limiting access. Community farmers normally looked after goats, sheep and poultry as sources of income, banks, prestige symbols, traditional ceremonies and as gift to important strangers and chiefs. Most of these livestock were however consumed by the rebels who occupied these towns. Efforts have been made by some NGOs to restock these settlements with animals although most did not survive.MarketingLimited marketing opportunities existed in the DA from poor road network and vehicular traffic especially during the rainy season. Farmers sell their produce at the farm gates during harvest and occasionally walked distances of 20-40km to attend weekly open (periodic) markets (“ndorwee” in the Mende language).Communities have no sound formal financial institutions but however, operated “osusu” to help generate capital to either start a new business or buy needed items. The war however disrupted this “osusu” arrangement and savings for now are extremely small to resume such activities, hence their economy is crippled. Residents therefore relied on moneylenders who were paid in kind at high interest rates during harvest time. HealthThe Ministry of Health and Sanitation co-ordinates all the health delivery services in Bo district through the District Health Management Team (DHMT). The district has 1 referral government hospital, 25 health centres, 20 community health Posts, 42 maternal and child Health posts and 1 under fives clinic. The central government hospital in Bo, the district headquarter town, has 6 medical doctors serving a total district population of 458 386, putting the ratio of doctors to people at 1: 76,397. The doctors are all based in Bo, meaning most residents in the DA have no access to them. There is high need for health facilities in all the communities. Community members have to trek between 14 to 40kms on average to access the nearest health centre or resort to using the services of local herbalists, traditional healers and drug peddlers. March and April are the peak periods for disease prevalence. Climatic change, water unavailability and contamination, poor hygiene and environmental conditions. Low dietary intake coupled with heavy workload in August and September were responsible for the widespread ill health among community members generally and women and children in particular. Malaria, dysentery, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), respiratory Tract Infections (RTI), diarrhoea, measles, worm infestation, headaches, chicken pox, hernia and STIs. Were commonly reported cases. There is general awareness about the causes of HIV/AIDS and STIs, but very little knowledge about effects of HIV/AIDS and STIs. The high prevalence of STIs is a cause for concern hence the need for awareness raising on HIV/AIDS.Major water sources for household use include streams, rivers, creeks and unprotected wells. Debris and human faecal matter heavily contaminate these sources. This has led to frequent outbreak of water-borne diseases such as diarrhea, dysentery, cholera, typhoid and skin diseases. Of the 134 protected wells in the DA sunk by aid agencies before the war, only 40 of these are functioning putting the ratio of access to safe water at 1 well to 3722 people compared to the national policy requirement of 1 well to 250 people.Slightly over 100 latrines, mainly constructed by aid agencies served an approximate population size of over 5,000 people in all the 3 communities in the DA. Most households have no latrines making residents to use bushes around homes and close to water sources as latrines. Garbage is indiscriminately disposed of in the immediate surroundings of the houses thereby exposing households to health hazards.The Bo Town Council is embarking on campaign for the collection and disposal of garbage in the township. The Cleaning Days are however observed at the local level on agreed dates.EducationThe education situation in the DA manifests high degree of inequality emphasized by low girl child attendance and the unequal distribution of teachers and schools.The educational sector is faced with numerous problems ranging from infrastructure, availability of teaching and learning materials, demotivated teaching staff to poor monitoring and supervision.90% of the learning institutions are located in Bo, due to its strategic location as chiefdom/regional headquarter and as a district, hence the concentration of schools and other facilities in terms of structure, staffing and access to teaching and learning materials.Of the remaining 10%, Wonde has the least number of formal and community schools (8) with a total enrolment of 2,530 with girls accounting for only 37.7%. Out of the fifteen chiefdoms in Bo District, Wonde is one out of the two without a secondary school.Generally, drop out figures seemed to be on the increase in the DA and this could be attributed to several factors, e.g. mining, labour, early marriages (after initiation into the “bondo” Society, girls are forced into early marriages, thereby depriving them to further their education), secret societies and poverty. This situation is more striking in Wonde and Baoma chiefdoms where the percentage of children in school as against the school going age is 3% and 12.05% respectively as against 58.59% in Kakua.However with the awareness to support education on the increase which now promotes free housing, farm labour and sometimes payment of teachers both in kind and cash to retain them in rural areas, AA has acknowledged increased efforts by community members in sending and retaining their children especially girls to school. ShelterAs a result of the war over 85% of both private and public structures were destroyed with 60% destruction in Baoma, 40% in Kakua and 85% in Wonde (Statistics from National Commission for Social Action (NACSA) survey) for eg. "Mamie Daboh whose modern housing structure was formally used to accommodate very important visitors in Fengehun village, including the late Prime Minister, Sir Milton Margai became mentally deranged when she returned from the bush to find her house reduced to rubbles”. In 2000, AAISL commenced operations in the South and East of the country to broaden understanding of poverty, its link with conflict, and respond to the emergency situation occasioned by the civil conflict. Over the years, there has been programme growth leading to the establishment of the Bo Development Area (BO-DA) in the South of Sierra Leone.Until recently, the DA has been directly delivering services in the areas of education, primary health care, water and sanitation and infrastructural development at both community (Baoma, Kuaka and Wonde chiefdoms) and district levels. There has been a major programme shift focusing our goals and efforts on securing the rights of poor and excluded people and addressing injustice. Current programme priorities include women’s rights, the right to education, the right to human security in conflict and emergencies and the right to just and democratic governance.AAISL’s work has been guided by previous global organisational strategies and specific thematic strategies. These strategic plans informed our three year rolling plans to address emerging needs of war-affected communities at DA level. Among the three chiefdoms showing different poverty characteristics, Kakua chiefdom has a high urban population, a high number of returnees and is witnessing an increase in HIV and AIDS, the number of street children and girl mothers. With the return of normalcy in the entire country, a large number of NGOs formerly based in the township of Bo, the provincial, district and chiefdom headquarter town, have been relocated in the east and parts of the northern regions, which were areas initially occupied by former fighting factions. Consequently, a developmental gap has been created within the district thus the need for AAI’s continued intervention. Baoma chiefdom is experiencing acute environmental problems, women’s rights violations and child labour as a result of alluvial mining activities. This is a threat to and is already undermining food security as mining activities continue on fertile farmlands with no effort to reclaim them, bad governance and misappropriation of public funds, exclusion of youths and women in decision making.The youths, who are potentials for agricultural development, are attracted into providing labour for alluvial mining, which they consider a panacea for quick wealth.Government authority is now fully in place in all chiefdoms in the southern region. Elected paramount chiefs govern all three chiefdoms where the DA is located. With support from DFID, the government has reconstituted the National Recovery Committee to ensure the restoration of governance institutions at all levels.Eighty percent of the communities in the Bo DA are engaged in in-valley swamp and upland rice farming, cassava, potato and other vegetable gardening. In the area of cash crop oil palm cultivation is the most predominant in the district. In the hungry season between July to September, cassava, cassava products, bulgur, sweet potato and vegetables form the bulk of diet consumed in most households. While twenty percent of the population of the communities makes their living from petty trading and periodic marketing, backyard gardening, fishing, hunting and mining also form the major income generating activities. There are periodic entertainment festivities including recreational activities and sometimes gambling mainly among youths generally in October to December in rural communities. Other than the threat posed by mining, arable lands is generally fertile and are well drained by rivers and perennial swamps and this is an opportunity for promoting agricultural activities. A small fraction of the population is involved in mining and these are mainly in Baoma chiefdom. In Bo the provincial capital, some community members are employed as civil servants or NGO staff. Small-scale business is also widely undertaken in the DA.In response to the high incidence of poverty, the government developed a Poverty Reduction Strategy (SLPRSP) in 2005, hence the people of Bo District who are described as, “Total Poor” is about 64% of the district’s population of 302,668 people of the district total population of 472,919. However, the incidence of poverty in the rural areas of the district is 66.8% with a poverty intensity of 27.4% as compared to the national rural figures of 78.9% and 36.6% respectively. If these figures are anything to go by, the Bo district closely follows Port Loko and Koinadugu as the next three poorest districts in Sierra Leone.Civil Society and donor responses Mainly local NGOs, CBOs and INGOs and Civil society organizations have been playing an increasingly proactive role in reducing the incidence of poverty in the Bo district since the end of the war through engagements with government and donors on rights of citizens. However, these are faced with the challenge of limited access to funding to sustain their activities, due to increased direct budgetary support to central and local government.Major donors include DFID, the EU, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. There has been donor coordination in support of poverty eradication efforts, which culminated into the formation of the Donor Aid Coordination Office (DACO). The IMF and the Bank have continued to advice central government on sound public policies for poverty reduction. Because policy discussions take place mainly between government and donors rather than between government and the people, accountability has been skewed only towards donors.Coping strategies of the PoorPoor and excluded people have been innovative in coping with the realities of poverty. Many communities have used the traditional scheme of raising funds, known as ‘Osusu’, for small income generating activities within the informal sector. Under these schemes, people with very low earning engage in group-savings and members take turns collecting the savings to support their income generating activities. This also explains the high number of street vendors and very small subsistence businesses, despite the lack of access to bank and other formal sector funds.Increasing poverty is putting extreme pressures on the extended family system and, in the absence of alternative social safety nets, poor people are increasingly vulnerable.AA Bo-DA understanding of rights in securing and claiming resources and power to sustain human dignity and development has led to the prioritisation of rights based work over service delivery. This strategic shift is meant to influence policies and practices that ensure an equitable and just society. It requires determined effort in partnerships and/or networks to facilitate conditions that will uphold such rights and responsibilities.The programme strategies are informed by issues emerging from the context, the goals and objectives of the AAI global strategy (RTEP), the Africa plan (Another Africa is Imperative) thematic strategies, and the national development plan (SL-PRSP). AASL BO-DA has prioritised three out of the six AAI global strategic themes: Right to Just and democratic Governance, Women’s Rights and Right to Human Security in Conflict and Emergencies. However, we will continue to work on Education and HIV and AIDS because it is a global emergency, and also address emerging issues in Food Rights. The programme strategy examined each theme Specifically, the three core programme priorities over the five-year strategy period include women’s rights, rights to human security in conflict and emergencies and rights to just and democratic governance. The DA programme will to a lesser degree also implement rights to Education, Food Right and HIV and AIDS.The core themes will be the focus of our work within the strategic period. Our principal focus will be on women’s right while Governance is the country specific priority theme. In addition, the right to education and human security in the face of conflict and emergencies will constitute the core thematic priorities. Women’s rightsAASL Bo DA has prioritized women’s rights and is committed to particularly consider the entrenched poverty and powerlessness of women. Over the years, some of the key achievements have been: * Increased gender awareness and women’s participation in leadership at community and district levels, * Increased awareness in gender-based violence and women’s rights monitoring * Engagement with police and legal service providers on addressing gender-based violence at district level, which has resulted in a more gender sensitive policing and the prosecution of gender based violence. * Increased awareness of the girl child education and violence against girls (VAG) in and out of schools. * In collaboration with the DMHT facilitated TBA construction, training and federationRight to Just and Democratic GovernanceSierra Leone’s current social and economic situation has been shaped by the civil war (1991 – 2002). The war paralysed the economy, caused the collapse of public services, destroyed the country’s infrastructure, and incapacitated government institutions. Up to two million people, around half of the country’s population were displaced.Rights to Human Security in Conflict and EmergenciesAASL BO-DA continued its operations throughout the civil war and remains committed to ensuring the right to human security in conflicts and emergencies. The concept recognizes that poor people are vulnerable to a constant series of threats and risks. The empowerment and protection of poor people lies at the core of human security and it remains the primary responsibility of the government. AASL BO-DA response has been: * Engagement in post conflict reconstruction activities such as provision of water and sanitation facilities for re-settled communities * Training of blue flag volunteers. * Facilitating emergency preparedness and early warning sensitisations * Produced emergency guidelines and procedures * Supported the production of community and district level security and disaster policyRight to EducationAASL BO DA has been at the forefront for the demand for the Right to Education and Education for All in collaboration with other implementing partners such as UNICEF and education networks. Key achievements have been: * Facilitation of the emergence and strengthening of School Management Committees (SMCs) to ensure community participation in education debates * Through the CEF project, supported networks to undertake campaigns on the rights of the girl-child to education * Work with the Ministry of Education to implement the SABABU Education Project to provide access to education and ensure quality * Provide support to community REFLECT circles to discuss community development issues and acquisition of basic literacy skills Right to a life of dignity in the face of HIV and AIDSActionAid Sierra Leone BO-DA HIV and AIDS intervention was introduced in 2000 as part of the gender programme at country level due to the rising incidence of HIV and AIDS among women. AASL BO-DA used communication and participatory methodology in implementing HIV and AIDS programs that targeted the rural populace. At present the BO-DA is implementing the Stepping Stone and REFLECT (STAR) project, a comprehensive integrated methodology which combines the strength of participatory learning on HIV and AIDS with empowerment and social change. It focuses on relationships and communication skills with the aim of reducing HIV transmission, improving Sexual Reproductive Health and fostering community empowerment.Bo DA communities, intervention areas and Miles from Bo 1. BLAMAWO ( Baoma C/Dom ) 26 miles LIVELIHOOD SUPPORT ( Cassava process sing machines ), SEEDS ( Rice, Groundnut and Vegetables ), TBA hut construction and STAR CIRCLE2. MBUNDORBU ( Baoma C/Dom ) 18miles - 2 WATERWELLS rehab, STAR CIRCLE, COURT BARI REHAB, SEEDS (G/NUT), RECREATIONAL SUPPORT( Football and vest )3. PELEWAHUN ( Wonde C/Dom ) 37 miles - REFLECT CIRCLE, SEEDS ( Rice, cassava cuttings and groundnut, TBA hut, & WATER WELL rehab4. BATHURST ( Wonde C/Dom ) 29 miles – LIVELIHOOD ( 2 cassava processing machines, STAR circle Seeds, Cassava, G/nut, Teaching and Learning materials, Recreational Support ( Football and vests )5. NYANDEHUN ( Kakua C/Dom ) 7miles- LIVELIHOOD ( cassava processing machine, Recreational Support ( Football and vests )