In early March the ICRC and the Sierra Leone Red Cross Society will conduct a survey in four of the country's districts to assess the population's needs prior to a distribution of seed, tools and other items. Forty Red Cross employees and volunteers will travel to Kenema, Pujehun, Tonkolili and - security permitting - to Kailahun.
"We'll focus on people who are destitute", explained ICRC senior relief officer Morison Boima in Kenema. "Among the 40,000 families targeted are returning displaced persons and refugees, and resident farmers whose houses or crops were looted during the war and who are starting again from scratch. They all need our help."
Within weeks after the survey is completed the Red Cross will distribute aid packages to each family consisting of 40kg of rice seed, 10 kg of groundnuts, local and imported vegetable seed, hoes, plastic sheeting, kitchen sets, blankets, sleeping mats and soap.
ICRC relief coordinator John Lapointe is responsible for the assistance programme: "This distribution, involving 1,600 tonnes of rice seed, may be the largest joint operation ever carried out by the ICRC and the National Society in Sierra Leone. Returning farmers who are trying to resettle will receive enough aid to make a serious impact on their lives. More than 200,000 people could be well on their way to food self-sufficiency thanks to this programme".
Further information: Juan Martinez, ICRC Geneva, tel.: ++4122 730 2281