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The Sierra Leone research programme

The SLRC Sierra Leone country research programme, implemented over a two-year period from April 2013 to April 2015, focused broadly on (state) capacity to address the country’s strikingly high malnutrition rates. Our research sought to understand why and how, despite multiple and ongoing efforts at prevention, malnutrition rates in Sierra Leone remain so high. Taking as its starting point Irish Aid-supported partnerships with the Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MoHS) to build capacity to prevent malnutrition in Sierra Leone at the national, district and community level, as well as efforts to broaden the mandate for addressing malnutrition beyond just the MoHS, the programme aimed to generate useful and relevant findings which would contribute towards evidence-informed policy making around this important issue.

Guided by an overarching research question – ‘How can development partners support improved strategies to prevent malnutrition in Sierra Leone?’ – the programme was comprised of three discrete yet connected phases of research activity, each of which focuses on a specific research question. These phases of research activity were planned at intermittent periods throughout the two year duration, and were supported either end by both an initial scoping trip (May 2013) as well as a final dissemination and uptake trip (April 2015).

Research question 1: Are development partner approaches to capacity building appropriate to the challenges the nutrition sector is facing? Is the model of capacity building being used fit for purpose?

  • What is the nature of development partners’ approaches to capacity building?
  • How does capacity building support play out at the district and community levels?
  • What are the gaps?

The second and third research questions – which were further developed and refined as the programme progressed– focused broadly on the following thematic areas: 

Research question 2: What are the blockages to preventing malnutrition at the district and community levels?

Research question 3: How can broader stakeholders, beyond the immediate nutrition sector, be engaged to develop a more comprehensive approach to preventing malnutrition?

  • Who are the broader stakeholders necessary for a comprehensive approach to addressing malnutrition?
  • How can they be brought on board so that their activities are coordinated and nutrition-sensitive
Please do get in touch with the team (details below) if you would like further information about the SLRC Sierra Leone programme or if you are working on similar issues.

More information

The team

The malnutrition research was conducted by ODI researcher Lisa Denney and SLRC researcher, Richard Mallett, and our Sierra Leone partners, Focus1000.

Contact us

Lisa Denney

Research Fellow

Politics and Governance

Overseas Development Institute

203 Blackfriars Road

London SE1 8NJ

United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)20 7922 0440

E-mail: l.denney@odi.org.uk

Title Author Summary Country Date
Change the context not the girls: Improving efforts to reduce teenage pregnancy in Sierra Leone Lisa Denney, Rachel Gordon, Aminata Kamara and Precious Lebby In 2013 Sierra Leone ranked among the ten nations with the highest rates of teenage pregnancy in the world. This report examines current programming responses post-Ebola and asks where there is room for improvement Sierra Leone 16/05/2016
How to reduce teenage pregnancy in Sierra Leone Lisa Denney and Rachel Gordon Already high rates of teenage pregnancy in Sierra Leone are said to have soared during Ebola. This paper examines current programming approaches to address teen pregnancy and identifies five conceptual gaps Sierra Leone 16/05/2016
Teenage Pregnancy after Ebola in Sierra Leone: Mapping responses, gaps and ongoing challenges Lisa Denney, Rachel Gordon and Aisha Ibrahim As Sierra Leone’s National Strategy for the Reduction of Teenage Pregnancy lapses at the end of 2015 and development of a new Strategy gets underway, this paper scopes the extent of the problem, outlines common intervention types and highlights some of the gaps and questions raised by current programming responses. Sierra Leone 22/12/2015
After Ebola: towards a smarter model of capacity building Richard Mallett and Lisa Denney This briefing paper relates to the report, After Ebola: why and how capacity support to Sierra Leone’s health sector needs to change. The central argument of this briefing paper is that capacity building in the country’s health sector has been thought about and operationalised in a narrow, technical way. This dominant approach has ignored both the relational and systemic dimensions of capacity. A smarter model of capacity building is needed – one that does justice to the challenge of health systems strengthening, and to citizens seeking quality healthcare. To that end, five ideas and several recommendations are proposed. Sierra Leone 02/07/2015
After Ebola: why and how capacity support to Sierra Leone’s health sector needs to change Lisa Denney and Richard Mallett with Ramatu Jalloh The Ebola crisis revealed not only weaknesses in Sierra Leone’s health system, but also the limits of international capacity support over the last 13 years. The central argument of this report is that capacity building in the country’s health sector has been thought about and operationalised in a narrow, technical way. This dominant approach has ignored both the relational and systemic dimensions of capacity. A smarter model of capacity building is needed – one that does justice to the challenge of health systems strengthening, and to citizens seeking quality healthcare. To that end, five ideas and several recommendations are proposed. Sierra Leone 01/07/2015
Mapping Sierra Leone’s plural health system and how people navigate it Lisa Denney and Richard Mallett This briefing paper maps the actors that constitute the plural health system in Sierra Leone and the relationships between them. Second, it examines the factors that influence health-seeking behaviour before setting out some recommendations on ways forward when developing appropriate interventions to address malnutrition. Sierra Leone 19/09/2014
Sierra Leone: Getting beyond nutrition as “a women’s issue” Richard Mallett and Lisa Denney This briefing paper demonstrates how childcare is influenced by a range of household actors in Sierra Leone, and sets out what efforts to prevent malnutrition can do to engage with this reality. Sierra Leone 15/09/2014
Understanding malnutrition and health choices at the community level in Sierra Leone Lisa Denney, Richard Mallett with Ramatu Jalloh This report looks at the challenges faced in preventing malnutrition in Sierra Leone from a localised perspective. Sierra Leone 15/09/2014
Blockages to preventing malnutrition in Kambia, Sierra Leone: a semi-quantitative causal analysis Paul Binns, Ernest Guevarra, Mohamed Jalloh and Melrose Tucker Drawing on a semi-quantitative evaluation of access and coverage (SQUEAC) approach, this report examines the blockages to preventing malnutrition in Kambia district, Sierra Leone. Sierra Leone 18/07/2014
Developing state capacity to prevent malnutrition in Sierra Leone: An analysis of development partner support Lisa Denney, Mohammad Jalloh, Richard Mallett, Samuel Pratt and Melrose Tucker This report seeks to understand whether efforts to build government capacity to prevent malnutrition are ‘fit for purpose’, given the constraints faced and what is known about supporting capacity. Sierra Leone 07/03/2014

Recent publications


 
 Briefing Paper: After Ebola: towards a smarter model of capacity building
 
 Report: After Ebola: why and how capacity support to Sierra Leone’s health sector needs to change
Briefing paper: Mapping Sierra Leone’s plural health system and how people navigate it
Report: Understanding malnutrition and health choices at the community level in Sierra Leone
Briefing paper: Sierra Leone: Getting beyond nutrition as “a women’s issue”
Working paper: Blockages to preventing malnutrition in Kambia, Sierra Leone: a semi-quantitative causal analysis



Report: Developing state capacity to prevent malnutrition in Sierra Leone: An analysis of development partner support



Blogs

Beyond the medical crisis: The politics of Ebola in Sierra Leone

Institute of Development Studies (IDS) - 15th April 2015

As Ebola is contained, what's next for Sierra Leone?

Washington Post - 9th April 2015

What Ebola tells us about how to do state-building

SLRC - 4th March 2015

Where do people go when they’re sick? Traditional healers versus modern clinics in Sierra Leone

Slate - 3rd October 2014

Understanding rainy seasons, malnutrition, & community health in Sierra Leone

Washington Post - 16th September 2014

Ebola cannot be cured but west Africa's epidemic may have been preventable

The Guardian - 8th July 2014

Engaging with plural delivery systems: Community approaches to health and justice in Sierra Leone

Local First - 10th July 2014

Beyond stuff: Capacity as a relational concept

World Bank - 13th June 2014

Sierra Leone squares up to undernutrition

New Internationalist - 13th March 2014