Inclusive progress - UNDP's local economic development interventions transform the lives of persons with disabilities.

February 12, 2024

Mariama Brima, a benneficiary of UNDP's Human Secuirty Project in Kono District

UNDP Sierra Leone/Janet Alamisi Dabire

In Sierra Leone, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is making significant strides in promoting sustainable and inclusive local economic development. Through targeted interventions, they are transforming the lives of persons with disabilities, ensuring their active participation in economic activities, and promoting resilience. One such intervention is the Human Security Project, funded by United Nations Human Security Trust has empowered individuals with disabilities to overcome barriers and reshape the narrative of exclusion.

Mariama Brima and Hawa Mara,  are two determined persons with  disability whose lives have undergone a complete transformation through the Human Security Project in Polio Camp in Kamadu, Gbense Chiefdom, Kono District. The Human Security Project undertaken by UNDP is an integrated approach that aims to address the multidimensional threats and challenges faced by vulnerable people and communities and funded by the United Nations Human Security Trust. 

The implementing partner, SEND Sierra Leone as part of its interventions to improve the well-being of the targeted communities introduced financial literacy to the communities. In addition to providing them with marketable skills and small grants.

Mariama Brima recounts how the local economic empowerment has changed her life.

Mariama Brima , PWD from Kamadu ,Kono District in front of her stall

UNDP Sierra Leone/Janet Alamisi Dabire

Mariama, a single mother of 4, used to solely support her family through begging. But now, she has become a successful entrepreneur. 

"I used to roam on the streets of Koidu City in my wheelchair begging from one shop to shop   to feed my children.” Today, she tells a different story. “The UNDP support has changed my life. Now I am an entrepreneur owning a mini shop. I have also gained new skills  in soap making. From these two ventures I can now take care of my family without asking anyone for help”, Mariama proudly said. 

 Mariama joined a cooperative in Gbense Chiefdom  and that has enhance her financial status. She saves weekly with them and has the opportunity  to collect soft loans  to enhance her business. 

 “Now I manage my own business, cook twice a day to eat with my children, take good care of them and have my dignity restored as a responsible person with disability. No more begging, and suffering rejection on the streets of Koidu City”, she said. 

Mariama Brima , PWD from Kamadu ,Kono District and two of her children

UNDP Sierra Leone/Janet Alamisi Dabire

Hawa Marrah, the woman earning a living from hair dressing.

Hawa Mara  is a hair dresser  and also resident in  Polio Camp in Kamadu, Gbense Chiefdom, Kono District. “I was on the Streets of Koidu City begging for my living but today, I have people working for me and also train other persons with disability in my hair dressing salon.” She announced with pride. 

Hawa opted to be trained as a hairdresser two years ago. Following her graduation, she received a startup  to start her business. 

“I own this Hair Dressing Salon from where I take care of my two children, including my son who previously, had to skip school every Friday  in order  to take me begging for their living. Now my two children attend school every day and I pay their school charges from this business without having to beg from anybody”, she said.

Hawa Marrah , PWD from Kamadu ,Kono District in her hair salon

UNDP Sierra Leone/Janet Alamisi Dabire

Promoting skills development  and access to  financial resources.

Mariama and Hawa have both benefited from Village Savings and Loan Associations cooperative established under the Human Security Project. In Kono district, the project  established 10 Village Loans and Savings Association (VSLA) groups each in Gbense, Kamara and Soa chiefdom's. The project also provided trainings in entrepreneurship ,startup kits  for businesses, small grants , machines among others. 

UNDP’s commitment to inclusive progress ensures that no one is left behind. By empowering persons with disabilities and creating resilient communities, they pave the way for a brighter and more equitable future.

About the Human Security Project 

The UNDP Human Security project was designed to address the interconnected challenges and opportunities in Gbense, Soa  and  Kamara Chiefdoms of Kono District. It provided the community with skills and capabilities for long-term improvements to food, socioeconomic life, social cohesion, and environmental security.  This will ultimately reduce the needs, risks and vulnerabilities of community residents and accelerate SDG achievement. 

It was jointly implemented by UNDP and FAO with funding from United Nations Human Security Trust.