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Sierra Leone - People

The President of Sierra Leone on March 31, 2016 formally launched the Provisional Results of the Sierra Leone 2015 Population and Housing Census. The data indicated that the population grew from 4,976,871 in 2004 to 7,075,641 in 2015, registering an average annual growth rate of 3.2 percent. Males represented 49.1% of the total population, females 50.9%.

With a population of approximately 6 million, Sierra Leone is one of the least developed low-income countries. The countrys GDP per capita is only $254, leaving 73 percent of Sierra Leones rural population in poverty.

The population includes 18 [soem report 20] African ethnic groups. The Temne in the north and the Mende in the south are the largest. About 2% of the population are Krio, the descendants of freed slaves who returned to Sierra Leone from Great Britain and North America and from slave ships captured on the high seas. In addition, about 4,000 Lebanese, 500 Indians, and 2,000 Europeans reside in the country.

Krio is the most widely spoken language in Sierra Leone and is native to the Creoles who are freed slaves from Britain, The United States and West Indies. It is mainly derived from English but has influences from other African languages (Yuroba for example), European languages (such as French) and also contains some expressions found in the West Indies.

Historically, Sierra Leoneans were noted for their educational achievements, trading activity, entrepreneurial skills, and arts and crafts work, particularly woodcarving. Many are part of larger ethnic networks extending into several countries, which link West African states in the area.

Population estimates and various sample censuses were made for the Colony of Sierra Leone beginning in 1802 (after 1871 regularly every ten years) and for the Sierra Leone Protectorate start- ing in 1901. In general, however, especially for the Protectorate, such censuses were little more than educated guesses. In 1931 a full enumeration in the Colony and sample counts in the Protectorate produced an estimate of close to 1.77 million inhabitants for the whole territory. A similar census was carried out in 1948, at which time the population was estimated at nearly 1.86 million people. This was the last of the preindependence censuses, but various official estimates were issued on population size during the remainder of the colonial period, including one for 1960 that placed it at almost 2.5 million. The I960 total proved to be far in excess of the number counted in the first generally reliable census of the whole country in 1963.

The first complete enumeration of the entire population, made on April 1, 1963 , gave a total of 2,180,355. On the basis of a post-enumeration check on the thoroughness of the coverage and the estimated sampling error probability, the figure was adjusted upward by 5 percent, giving a final total of over 2,289,000. The adjustment was not considered applicable to individual localities, however, and the internal breakdown of the 1963 census data is based on the original enumeration results.

According to UN estimates, the population totaled 2.2 million in 1950 and increased to 2.5 and 2.8 million in 1960 and 1970, respectively. The rate of growth increased from 1.1% per annum during 1950-55 to 1.4% during 1970-75. The mortality rate declined only slightly, from 36.3 deaths per 1000 population during 1950-55 to a rate of around 35 in the following decades.

Fertility rates were among the highest in the world. In a survey conducted in 1969 and 1970 married and single women in the age bracket from forty to forty-four who had had children were found to have had a mean total of 7.4 live births; in rural areas women in the same category had had a mean total of 8.3 live births.

By 1995 the population growth rate is 2.4% annually (average for west African countries); the total fertility rate was 6.8. The maternal mortality rate was estimated to be 1400-1700/100,000 live births. The infant mortality rate (IMR) was about 180; for those under 5 years of age, it was 275.

The 2008 Sierra Leone Demographic and Health Survey (SLDHS) was carried out by Statistics Sierra Leone (SSL) in collaboration with the Ministry of Hea1tb and Sanitation (MOIS). As expected, rural women had two more children than their counterparts in urban areas. The TFR in rural areas (5.8 births) is considerably higher than the rate in urban areas (3.8 births). TAlthough the 2008 SLDHS estimated the national total fertility rate (TFR) at 5.1 children, which was still relatively high compared to the desired target, the reported increase in knowledge of other health issues among the population offered a ray of hope.

There is no serious objection to family planning on the basis of religion; however, people are not informed about the importance of birth spacing and about where they can obtain services. here is a substantial difference in the use of contraception among married women in urban and rural areas (16 and 5 percent, respectively); urban women are markedly more likely to be using a modem method than rural women (14 and 4 percent, respectively). There is considerable variation in contraceptive use by region. Women in the Northern Region are the least likely to use a n10dern method of contraception (3 percent), while those in the Western Region are most likely to use modem methods (19 percent).

Interest in controlling the number of births grows rapidly as the number of children increases; the proportion wanting no more children rises from 2 percent an10ng married women with one child to 77 percent of women with six or more children.

Almost 1 in every 7 children born in Sierra Leone died before reaching their fifth birthday. Acute respiratory illness, malaria, and dehydration caused by severe diarrhoea are major causes of childhood mortality in Sierra Leone.

Malaria is a leading cause ofsickness and death of children under age five years in Sierra Leone. Most of the children with anaemia have had several episodes of malaria. It is a common cause of school absenteeism. One ofstrongest weapons in the fight against malaria is the use of insecticide-treated mosquito nets (ITNs) while sleeping. Preventive measures especially the use of ITNs has been vigorously promoted in Sierra Leone. In the two years preceding the 2008 survey, over 1 million mosquito nets were distributed country-wide to pregnant women and children under age five in clinics.

The 2014 Ebola epidemic in West Africa was the first in history. The first case was reported in Guinea in March 2014, and the disease spread in the neighboring countries of Liberia and Sierra Leone. Over the span of a year, the Ebola epidemic has caused more than 10 times as many cases of Ebola than the combined total of all those reported in previous Ebola outbreaks.

The most difficult part of the burial teams job was the part no one expected to be the hardest: the part where the teams have to convince families that taking their loved one to be buried is the right thing to do. In Sierra Leone, washing and burying the dead is an important part ofhonoring their family.





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Page last modified: 03-05-2017 19:11:09 ZULU