Makeni has a population of around 125,000 people. It is the capital of the Northern Province and the Bombali district.
The Northern Province is shaped by agriculture and most people make a living as subsistence farmers in rural areas. In the city of Makeni, most people work in the informal sector, for example as petty traders selling merchandise on the streets. On the whole, living conditions in the northern part of the country are extremely difficult.
Since 2007, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Makeni.
In Bombali, the district where Makeni is situated, 63% of children live in poverty. Even though the levels of poverty have declined over the past couple of years, a large number of families still continue to face hardships.
Children in rural areas are far more likely to be affected by poverty than those living in urban areas. The northern region of Sierra Leone’s North has the highest levels of child poverty in the country.
Children who grow up in poverty often don’t have access to the food, shelter, sanitation facilities, health care or education they need to not only survive, but also thrive.
Getting an education is more than just being able to read and write. It can empower people and enable them to participate fully in society. It also contributes to improving one’s livelihood as having a diploma can increase chances of secure employment.
In Sierra Leone there is a big divide in who receives education: people in rural areas are less likely to go to school than those in urban areas and women are less likely to be educated than men. Furthermore, people affected by poverty are less likely to receive an education. Overall, 44% of the current population never attended school.