ActionAid is a global movement of people working together to further human rights and defeat poverty for all.


Tonkolili DA is one of the newest of ActionAid Sierra Leone's DAs

Tonkolili Development Area was established in 2008 and covers two chiefdoms, Tane and Kholifa Rowalla.

The DA is centrally located in the country and thus offers opportunities for increasing AAISL’s understanding of poverty in the whole country and has potentials for advocacy, influencing capacity and partnership work. Poverty is relatively high in these chiefdoms, a situation compounded by the decade long civil war.

These two chiefdoms were selected due to limited development assistance and visible signs of low farming activities, which pose a threat to household food security and illiteracy

The DA is made up of 184 villages with a population of 70, 403. The population is relatively youthful with 41% below 15 years and 5% aged 65 years and above. Women account for 49% of the total population. The major economic activities are farming, livestock and mining.

Farmers grow mainly rice, groundnut, cassava, millet, potato and leafy vegetables but mostly for consumption. Only 10-15% goes to the market for sale. The livestock such as sheep, goats are owned largely by the men and poultry by women.

Agricultural productivity for most of the farmers is very low due to small farm sizes, manual labour, inadequate extension and support services, and low soil fertility as a result of reduced fallow periods. The women support the men in farming activities and their specific roles are ploughing, weeding, harvesting, processing and preparing food.

Eighty percent of the DA population is poor. The causes of poverty are diverse but generally associated with mismanagement and poor planning; Lack of access to mechanized farming support, laziness, infertile land, poor yields, illiteracy and commitment to traditional societies, polygamy, conflict and disputes. Women, people with disabilities, the elderly, girls and children are the most vulnerable.

Major sources of water are rivers, open and unprotected wells, swamps and streams and some of these dry up during the dry season.

Education is faced with numerous problems such as poor infrastructure, limited number of qualified teachers, unavailability of teaching and learning materials and low enrolment of girls because parents prefer to send boys to school more than girls.

Teenage pregnancy in the DA is on the increase as young girls as young as 10 years of age get impregnated by their peers and older men.

Gold mining activities coupled with the increasing number of weekly market centers in the District has led to rampant movement of business people from one point to another for different transactions. This has contributed to low food production as most youths migrate to the mines to find jobs and leaves the farms unattended.

The DA is currently working with three partners:

  • ‘Fof Ta Mamari’ meaning ‘ Speak the truth’  is a local advocacy group working on governance issues,
  • Takulun meaning ‘Include everyone’ is a women’s organization working on women’s right issues
  • The Voice of Women is a group of Women living with HIV/AIDS (WLWHA ).

The thrust of the DA is to build capacities, develop institutions, and establish systems for advocacy and ensure an enabling environment for wealth creation.

Key Achievements from 2008 to 2011

Right to Education

Through the partners, Tonkolili DA has worked immensely in ensuring access to basic quality education for all children of school-going age with particular emphases on girls.

 In the past 3 years the DA has achieved the following:

  • Construction of 7 primary schools (2 in Tane and 5 in Kholifa Rowalla chiefdoms)
  • Supported 5 community primary school teachers for the Teachers Certificate  in the Distance Education programme
  • Supported 14 sponsorship community schools with teaching and learning materials
  • Facilitated formation and Training of School Management committees and federated them to engage duty bearers on educational issues affecting them
  • Supported  best performing girls with learning materials to motivate them and also create a healthy competition for learning
  • Trained 8 REFLECT facilitators and established 4 circles



Women’s right

The high illiteracy rate among women is a contributing factor to the lack of knowledge on their basic rights which in turn is responsible for their being poor and powerless. Infant and maternal deaths rates have been on the increase because health facilities at the community level are ill equipped and serviced.  The traditional birth attendants (TBAs) are uneducated and lack the basic training and appropriate delivery kits to do their work efficiently.  

In addressing these problems, ActionAid has done the following in the DA.

  • In collaboration with the District Health Management Team (DHMT), conducted trainings on Antenatal care, clean and safe delivery, HIV& AIDS/ PMTCT, the role of TBAs in PMTCT, Early and exclusive breastfeeding & Nutrition) and awarded delivery kits and certificates to 20 TBAs in Matotoka in the Tane chiefdom


  • Rehabilitated  the Primary Health Unit (PHU) and staff quarter in Matuflie in the Tane chiefdom
  • Through partners, supported the training of women on their role in community Development and the interpretation of the three Gender acts
  • Have been contributing through partners to the trainings and radio programmes to discuss issues affecting women in the celebration of the international women’s day
  • Organized trainings for HungerFREE women and supported them with agricultural inputs


  • Organized training workshops on civic and political rights
  • Supported a perception survey on the performance of the local council and its accountability to the people.
  • Supported a dialogue forum between partners and Local council and other District stakeholders on their manifestos for the 2008 local council elections and carried out a mass sensitization for a peaceful election.
  • Supported a District stakeholder’s dialogue forum on the environmental and land agreement issues between the land owners and the Chinese owned Magbass sugar factory.
  • Supported training of local authorities, councilors, youths and other stakeholders on Local governance, community participation and customary law

Human security

The human security work in the past years had mainly targeted women and youths including in livelihood and capacity building. Some of the achievements are as follows:

  • Construction and rehabilitation of institutional and community water wells to provide safe drinking water.
  • Facilitated training for village pump care takers and Blue flag volunteers.
  • With funds provided by UNDP, implemented the Youth Empowerment  and Skills Training Project and supported 250 youths (130 males & 120 females) with farm inputs (seed rice, farm tools, cassava cuttings, farm equipment, livestock and agronomic and financial trainings)
  • In collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security and Tonkolili District council, trained 250 youth farmers from 10 beneficiary groups in Tane and Kholifa Rowalla chiefdoms in basic agronomic practices, post harvest loss management and basic animal husbandry.
  • Constructed culverts  on roads linking sponsorship communities in Tane chiefdom

Right to food

  • Organized trainings for HungerFREE women and supported them with agricultural inputs
  • Supported  farmers groups with farm inputs and essential agronomic trainings in Tane and Kholifa Rowalla chiefdoms
  • Constructed grain stores, market points, drying floors and donated rice threshers and 5 rice haulers


  • Mobilized WLWHAs and facilitated the formation of a network (VOW)
  • Trained 30 WLWHAs in small scale business enterprise
  • Supported 30 WLWHAs in improving their livelihood status through the provision of farming inputs.