Our work in Sierra Leone

Sightsavers has been working in Sierra Leone since the 1960s. Our focus is on treating cataracts and preventing the spread of neglected tropical diseases.

Ibrahim crouches down to check Samuel's eyes for trachoma

Sightsavers is working to eliminate neglected tropical diseases in Sierra Leone, particularly river blindness and lymphatic filariasis.

It’s thought that 5.8 million people need medication to protect them against river blindness, and more than 2.7 million people for lymphatic filariasis. To tackle this, we’ve trained more than 29,000 community volunteers to give out medication and distributed almost 10 million treatments in the country.

We also aim to improve the quality of eye health services in the country and ensure more people can access them.

As part of our inclusive education project in the Bombali district of Sierra Leone, funded by the European Union, we support children with disabilities, particularly girls, to make sure they have a chance to go to school. We are working with partners to improve 45 schools and train teachers so they have the specialist skills to help children learn.

At a glance

Total population
  • 7.3 million

  • What we focus on
  • Cataracts
  • River blindness
  • Lymphatic filariasis
  • Inclusive education

  • Key programmes
  • Cataract surgery
  • Ascend

  • Previous programmes
  • Reducing river blindness
  • Abdul stands outside his school after receiving cataract surgery.
    Abdul struggled to walk home from school without help due to cataracts. After his operation, he’s now able see and continue learning alongside his friends. © Sightsavers/Thomas Triebel

    How we’re making a difference in Sierra Leone

    Staff from Makeni Hospital's eyecare team smile for the camera.

    Protecting sight

    We train eye care workers such as Abubakar and his team so they can save sight across the country.
    Meet the team

    Saio sits in a classroom wearing a surgical masks. Behind her, there are rows of desks with other students.

    Access to education

    Our inclusive education project enables children with disabilities to learn alongside their peers.
    Read about the project

    A group of children stand in a ring, while other children play around them on a grassy plain.

    Disability rights

    Girls in particular are often left out of education. We' make sure girls with disabilities can go to school.
    Read their stories

    Your donation could help to protect sight


    More from Sierra Leone

    Saio stands outside wearing her school uniform and backpack.
    Sightsavers Reports

    “I feel good whenever I go to school”

    Saio has a physical disability that affects her feet and makes walking difficult, meaning she was missing out on a lot of her education. A Sightsavers-supported inclusive education project has provided transport to take her to school and training for her teachers, which has made a huge difference.

    Dr Jalikatu smiles while wearing her surgical coat.
    Sightsavers Reports

    “As a woman, you’re always trying to prove that you belong”

    Meet Dr Jalikatu, who’s the only female ophthalmologist in Sierra Leone and the head of the national eye care programme.

    Four patients wait while socially distancing for their trauchoma surgery while wearing PPE and face masks.
    Sightsavers from the field

    Eye care and COVID-19: what we’ve learned during the pandemic

    Throughout the pandemic, our priority has been to restart our work quickly and safely. Sightsavers staff reveal our how eye care programmes have evolved in the past 18 months.

    October 2021
    A man has his eyes checked for signs of trachoma.

    World’s largest trachoma surveys reach 50th country

    Sierra Leone has become the 50th country to be surveyed for trachoma as part of the initiative, with one person being examined for trachoma every 26 seconds since the surveys began in 2012.

    July 2021
    A man wearing a blue shirt stands outside of a school.
    Sightsavers Reports

    Teacher Abdul’s experience of Ebola and COVID-19 in Sierra Leone

    To find out the challenges of teaching children, particularly those with disabilities, during health crises we spoke with Abdul Kandeh Turay, a teacher in Rokulan, Sierra Leone.

    Children sit closely together outside.
    Sightsavers from the field

    Voices from Sierra Leone: The experiences of girls with disabilities at school

    In Sierra Leone, children with disabilities are often considered not worth educating. We've worked with schools to make sure these children are not left behind.

    December 2020
    A group of Indian women wearing colourful headscarves smile and laugh.
    Sightsavers from the field

    How one project touched 34 million lives

    As the 17-year-long Seeing is Believing project comes to an end, Imran Khan goes behind the scenes to reveal why it has made such an impact.

    December 2020
    A girl uses a typewriter while wearing a face mask.
    Sightsavers Reports

    “Without education, my future would be more difficult”

    Sightsavers project officer Eric Musa visits Marie, who has been blind since birth, to find out how she’s continued her education during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    A boy having his eyes checked. The ophthalmologist and the boy are both wearing face coverings and there is a protective screen between them.
    Sightsavers from the field

    Programme staff: “How we adapted our eye health projects during COVID-19”

    Sightsavers staff provide a first-hand insight into our work with ministries of health, partner hospitals and volunteers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    October 2020

    We save sight in 30 countries worldwide

    Where we work