The Inter-religious Council of Sierra Leone (IRCSL) is an interfaith organisation working on, inter alia, national reconciliation, health and religious harmony. The IRCSL came into existence to facilitate interfaith collaboration as part of efforts to end the country’s civil conflict. Inaugurated in 1997, it is composed of adherents of the two main religions in Sierra Leone – Christianity and Islam. The organisation has a network of clergy and imams in every part of the country, from village, town, chiefdom, and district, to national levels. They are entrusted with undertaking sensitisation, awareness raising and community education.
The main responsibilities of the IRCSL are: (i) to provide a platform for religious communities to share information on their respective traditions, principles and values; (ii) to plan and implement collaborative action programmes based on shared moral commitments; (iii) to support religious communities in Sierra Leone and galvanise areas of convergence in their respective traditions, moral commitments and promotion of religious rites.
In the health field, the IRCSL has engaged in the following projects:
- Through its subsidiary organisations – Christian Action Group (Christag) and Islamic Action Group (Islag) – IRCSL helped mobilise a ‘mass sensitisation drive’ to encourage parents to allow their children to be immunised, using health messages backed by strong scriptural passages/ quotations. This earned the country a Global UNICEF and World Health Organisation (WHO) award, after immunisation jumped from 6% in 1986 to 76% in 1990.
- The IRCSL membership was likewise mobilised to help end the Ebola outbreak, again using Biblical and Quaranic references.
- The IRCSL worked with the Tony Blair Faith Foundation to help defeat malaria in Sierra Leone.
- The IRCSL also runs a sensitisation campaign to end teenage pregnancy, FGM and early marriage of the girl child with support from UNICEF.