Sierra Leone: Bonthe District Profile (04 December 2015)

Context: Bonthe district is in the Southern Province, and borders the Atlantic Ocean to the west, Moyamba district to the northwest, Bo district to the southeast and Pujehun district to the south. The district comprises of several islands and with mainland being next to the Atlantic Ocean. The capital is Mattru Jong town. The largest city Bonthe is on Sherbro Island. The district is divided into eleven chiefdoms Bendu-Cha, Bum, Dema, Imperri, Jong, Kpanda Kemo, Kwamebai Krim, Nongoba Bullom, Sittia, Sogbeni, Yawbeko. Bonthe district is the least populous in Sierra Leone where the inhabitants mainly belong to the Mende ethnic group and the Sherbro people (native residents of the district). During the rainy season (May-November) an average 168 days have rain with annual rainfall of 366cm.

Population distribution: The 2014 projected population shows (see graph aside) that 20% are among children under the age of 5 years, 25% are between the age group 5-14 years and 49% are among the active workforce (15-64 Years). Bonthe was among the initial districts of the Southern Province to begin resettlement of war affected internally displaced persons (IDPs) in an effort to consolidate peace in the area. The World Bank survey 2013, indicated that almost 79% of residents resides in rural areas of the district and the average family size is 5.5.

Livelihood and Economy: Fishing and farming are the two main livelihood activities of the large majority of the district population. Palm oil plantations have been on the rise and more people are engaged in this livelihood in recent years. Bonthe district has one of the world’s largest deposits of titanium ore (rutile) in the world. Sierra Rutile Limited, owned by a consortium of foreign investors, began commercial mining operations in early 1980’s. The district suffered the mass exodus of IDPs when Sierra Rutile, the largest employer of mine workers terminated its operations during the civil war in the 2000’s. The Wealth Index (WI) indicates that 36% of district households are in the poorest quintile and 20% are among the medium poor. The overall poverty level is 50% with the Gini coefficient 0.3**(scale between 0 and 1).

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