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Our Work

Our concentration areas

Child Health

A critical situation requiring immediate action to safeguard the lives of children"

The challenge:

Since the end of the civil war in 2003, Liberia has made significant progress in rebuilding its health services. However, there is still a deep mistrust among Liberians towards the health system, primarily due to the devastating Ebola crisis in 2014. This mistrust has particularly affected child healthcare, resulting in a high number of deaths among children under the age of 5 every year.

According to the Liberian Ministry of Health, many children lose their lives to preventable diseases such as neonatal causes, malaria, pneumonia, diarrhea, and measles. Newborn babies are especially vulnerable, with more than a third of all child deaths occurring within their first month of life. Even if they survive infancy, children still face threats from diseases like pneumonia, malaria, typhoid fever, diarrhea, measles, and AIDS. Shockingly, one in ten children does not live beyond their fifth birthday due to these largely preventable and treatable illnesses.

Tragically, pregnant women and mothers also face significant risks in Liberia. The country has one of the highest rates of maternal mortality globally according to the World Health Organizations (WHO). Approximately one out of every ten women dies during pregnancy, childbirth, or postpartum.

It is evident that despite Liberia's efforts to rebuild its health system after years of conflict and disease outbreaks like Ebola, there are still immense challenges ahead in ensuring access to quality healthcare for all its citizens.

The death of a mother significantly increases the risk of her baby's mortality. High rates of malnutrition and a fragile healthcare system in Liberia further hinder progress, depriving children of the opportunity to overcome common childhood illnesses. As a result, Liberia experiences the tragic loss of 11,000 children under the age of five annually.

Our Support to the Solution

In today's world, with the resources available to us, it is unacceptable for any child or mother to die from preventable causes. At the Sekou Jomanday Foundation (SJF), we are dedicated to providing assistance to local health facilities, particularly in rural areas, by offering low-cost medications and impactful health interventions that save lives.

To ensure that our impact is felt on a wider scale, SJF operates at all levels. We actively participate in the development of health policies and plans that prioritize reducing child, neonatal, and maternal deaths in the country. Furthermore, we provide support to rural healthcare facilities in order to enhance service delivery, especially in hard-to-reach south-eastern counties, while also mobilizing communities to take charge of their own health.

To ensure that children and women have access to the appropriate medicines when they need them most, we work closely with the Ministry of Health to procure and distribute essential drugs and supplies.

In order to enhance maternal and newborn survival rates, our foundation provides training for rural health workers conducted by experienced professionals from larger cities. These trainings equip them with simple yet highly effective techniques for managing potentially fatal complications during pregnancy and childbirth. We also advocate for reproductive health services tailored for pregnant teenagers while promoting maternal and newborn tetanus vaccination as well as prevention of mother- to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV services.

We place special emphasis on delivering outreach services within urban slums where a majority of unimmunized children and women reside.

The Sekou Jomanday Foundation is dedicated to promoting integrated community case management of diarrhea, malaria, typhoid, and pneumonia. We work closely with community health assistants to provide vital healthcare services to children and women in the most remote and inaccessible regions of Liberia. Our efforts include training local clinics in various counties and conducting home visits within communities. By working together, we are able to provide lifesaving healthcare to those who need it most.

Liberia Baby Nehemieh with grandmother Edith

Basic education

Giving children a chance to learn is one of the most urgent priorities in Liberia.

The challenge

Obtaining a quality education in Liberia is an ongoing struggle. The devastating impacts of a 14-year civil war, combined with the closure of schools during the 2014 Ebola outbreak, have severely affected the education system.

During the conflict, only a handful of schools remained operational, primarily in urban areas. Consequently, thousands of children were unable to attend school. Additionally, approximately 60 percent of school buildings, including vital water and sanitation facilities that play a significant role in keeping children, especially girls, in school, were destroyed or damaged as a result of the prolonged conflict. Many teachers either fled the country or sought alternative employment opportunities.

Since the cessation of hostilities in 2003, the education sector has made noteworthy progress. In 2015 alone, nearly 1.4 million children were enrolled in pre-primary, primary, and secondary education programs. Furthermore, collaborative efforts between the Ministry of Education and various partners have facilitated the repair and construction of classrooms throughout Liberia. Teachers have also received training to enhance their skills while curricula have been revised and policies formulated to improve educational outcomes.

Despite these positive developments, Liberia continues to lag behind most other African nations in terms of educational indicators across various dimensions. Alarmingly high levels of out-of-school children persist with estimates suggesting that approximately 15 to 20 percent of children between ages six and fourteen are not attending school; instead many are compelled to engage in street vending activities to support their families.

Approximately 33% of pre-schoolers have the opportunity to participate in early childhood learning programs, while only 54% of children successfully finish their primary education.

Furthermore, a significant number of students attending primary and secondary school are older than the expected age for their grade level. This poses a considerable risk of these students eventually dropping out. The main causes behind this problem are delayed entry into grade one and inadequate implementation of policies ensuring age- appropriate enrollment.

Our Support to the Solution

The provision of high-quality education to children is essential for Liberia's progress and prosperity. It is a top priority for the Sekou Jomanday Foundation, as we are committed to ensuring that every child has access to education.

We collaborate with the government to enforce existing education policies, plans, and strategies. Additionally, we collect real-time data to enhance educational programs and offer educational support to the most marginalized children.

To promote early learning and prepare children for formal education, we partner with various organizations to expand access to free early childhood development (ECD) programs in schools and communities. This initiative involves developing ECD policies, standards, and curricula, training facilitators and caregivers, as well as providing early play and learning kits.

In order to facilitate productive learning experiences for schoolchildren, the Sekou Jomanday Foundation supports teacher training by providing necessary training kits. We also ensure that students have the appropriate learning resources through the provision of learning kits. Furthermore, we assist in designing and constructing child-friendly classrooms, bathrooms, toilets while establishing school health clubs that prioritize safe hygiene practices including menstrual hygiene management.

To generate demand for education services within communities, we actively engage with local residents through meetings and utilize community radio stations to raise awareness about ECD opportunities. Additionally, we emphasize age-appropriate school enrollment and advocate for girls' education.

Through our collaborative efforts with various stakeholders, Sekou Jomanday Foundation strives towards creating an inclusive educational environment where every child can thrive.

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Combating malnutrition

Malnutrition – the silent killer of Liberia’s potential – can be reversed with the right interventions.

Malnutrition poses a significant obstacle to economic development and human potential in Liberia. Among its various forms, stunting is particularly concerning. A staggering one in three children under the age of five in Liberia are classified as stunted, meaning they are too short for their age due to prolonged malnutrition and recurring illness. This has placed Liberia among the 21 nations with the highest rates of stunting globally.

Stunting not only affects a child's physical growth but also impairs brain function, organ development, and immune system functionality. These consequences can have long-lasting effects, including reduced academic achievements, lower productivity and earnings in adulthood, an increased risk of obesity and diabetes later in life, and ultimately, diminished overall well-being.

Our Support to the Solution

Sekou Jomanday Foundation is dedicated to optimizing nutrition during critical periods of life, particularly in the early stages such as pregnancy and the first two years of a child's life. This focus ensures a strong foundation for long-term benefits.

As part of our efforts, we collaborate with the Government of Liberia on various fronts. At the national level, SJF actively contributes to updating relevant nutrition strategies. We prioritize strengthening the nutrition information system, enabling effective tracking of progress towards national nutrition targets. Furthermore, we work diligently to secure increased funding for nutrition programs.

To tackle high stunting rates in these countries, SJF supports the government in expanding the coverage of Direct Nutrition Interventions (DNIs). These interventions encompass vital measures including exclusive breastfeeding promotion, food fortification, severe acute malnutrition treatment, disease prevention through hand washing, deworming initiatives, micronutrient supplementation, and comprehensive pre-pregnancy and adolescent nutrition programs.

Moreover, SJF advocates for other government sectors such as agriculture, water and sanitation, and education to implement nutrition-sensitive interventions that address the underlying causes of malnutrition.

At the community level, SJF collaborates closely with radio stations and community health assistants to drive public awareness on nutrition-related matters. Through these partnerships, we aim to improve infant and young child feeding practices among parents and caregivers while encouraging families to utilize available nutrition services.

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Child Protection

Making Liberia a safe and inclusive place for children and young people is possible.

The Challenge

Liberia faces a significant challenge in protecting and nurturing its young population, as over 42 percent of its people are under the age of 15, and 63 percent are under 25. It is crucial for the country to ensure the safety and well-being of its youth while also providing them with opportunities to thrive and lead their nation into the future.

Unfortunately, many children, adolescents, and young people in Liberia find themselves trapped in a cycle of violence, poverty, and deprivation. They face numerous obstacles such as limited access to education, inadequate employment prospects, and rampant violence. Girls in particular experience high rates of violence including rape, abuse, harassment, and exploitation. Shockingly, in 2015 alone, 89 percent of reported rape survivors were children with roughly 39 percent being just twelve years old or younger.

Furthermore, sexual harassment within schools is far too common with incidences like "sex for grades" or "sex for school fees." Additionally, violent discipline remains prevalent as an accepted practice within households. Disturbingly, at least 31 percent of children between the ages of 2-14 are engaged in some form of labor according to The Ministry of Gender.

Compounding these issues are harmful cultural practices like child marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM) which inflict severe harm on Liberian children. When vulnerable children or adolescents come into conflict with the law enforcement system, they often face even more violence and distress.

Addressing these pervasive problems requires urgent action from all levels of society to safeguard Liberia's young people and provide them with an environment that fosters growth rather than perpetuates harm.

A significant issue prevalent in many populations is the presence of micronutrient deficiencies. It is concerning that 13% of young children are not receiving adequate amounts of Vitamin A, which plays a crucial role in boosting immunity and maintaining good vision. Moreover, the alarming statistics indicate that nearly 40% of women and over half of all children under five are anemic, placing additional strain on human productivity. Tragically, undernourished children have a higher likelihood of succumbing to common childhood diseases such as malaria, pneumonia, and diarrhea. The World Health Organization emphasizes that malnutrition contributes to approximately 45% of deaths among children under the age of five.

Our contribution to the Solution

The issue of violence, abuse, and exploitation affecting children and adolescents is one that requires a comprehensive and all-encompassing solution involving various levels of government and society. The Sekou Jomanday Foundation (SJF) is dedicated to establishing a robust child protection system aimed at ensuring the safety of children. This involves not only advocating for the implementation of laws, such as the Children's Law, but also supporting relevant policies, regulations, and services that safeguard children from harm and provide assistance to victims and survivors.

One of SJF's primary objectives in Liberia is to put an end to the daily violence experienced by children. To achieve this, we collaborate closely with the government, civil society organizations, and development agencies to strengthen community-based protection measures and response services. These efforts aim to prevent all forms of violence against children while also providing necessary support in cases where it occurs.

In order to empower adolescents to reach their full potential, SJF extends support to victims of violence and abuse by offering opportunities for life skills training and vocational education. Additionally, our organization works diligently to protect adolescents, particularly girls, from abuse, sexual violence, and harmful traditional practices. We strongly believe in giving young people a voice in shaping policies and programs that affect them through innovative tools like U-Report as well as platforms such as the Children's Representative Forum and Adolescent Girls' Forum.

In matters concerning child justice, SJF focuses on enhancing laws and systems that ensure better protection for children who come into contact with the legal system. Our aim is to provide them with support and rehabilitation within their communities rather than resorting to detaining them in adult facilities.

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Water, sanitation and hygiene

Liberia has abundant water resources, but close to 90% of its population has limited access to safe drinking water.

The challenge

Liberia is a country known for its abundant natural resources, including rivers, rainforests, mangroves, and swamps. Unfortunately, despite this abundance of water sources, the country struggles with providing safe drinking water to all of its citizens due to a lack of infrastructure and services.

Sanitation conditions in Liberia are also poor, especially in rural areas where the majority of people do not have access to decent toilets or latrines. As a result, open defecation is practiced by approximately 42 percent of the population, according to the Joint Monitoring Programme 2017.

Access to safely managed drinking water and sanitation services is limited to less than 10 percent of Liberians, as reported by the JMP 2017. This lack of access puts individuals at risk for infection, disease, and even death.

The prevalence of diarrheal diseases, typhoid fever, childhood malnutrition, and frequent cholera outbreaks further highlight the negative impact that inadequate water and sanitation services have on young children in Liberia.

Additionally, during the recent Ebola outbreak in Liberia, it became evident how important proper access to water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) facilities are in preventing or stopping the spread of diseases.

In schools across Liberia, the absence of adequate WASH facilities contributes to the spread of diseases among students. Furthermore, girls who have started menstruating face additional challenges due to a lack of separate bathrooms for boys and girls. This often results in them missing school on their menstrual days and can lead to drop-out rates among female students.

It is clear that securing access to safe water and adequate sanitation for all Liberians would greatly improve public health outcomes and overall quality of life.

Our Support to the Solution

Investments in safe water, adequate sanitation, and good hygiene practices have a profound impact on the health and education of children.

Through our partnership with the government, Sekou Jomanday Foundation is dedicated to expanding the reach of WASH services in both rural and urban communities, as well as schools and health facilities. To achieve this, we work closely with communities to implement cost-effective water systems and impactful strategies for improving sanitation and hygiene. One such approach is Community Led Total Sanitation, which empowers local residents to take ownership of their own sanitation needs.

In addition, we strive to increase access to safe water for families through various initiatives. This includes conducting water quality surveillance, constructing sustainable wells in rural areas, promoting household water treatment and storage methods, and ensuring the proper maintenance of boreholes and other vital water sources.

At Sekou Jomanday Foundation, we are fully committed to supporting these solutions that will ultimately improve the lives of individuals and communities alike.

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