Our story so far

The Sierra Leonean Association of Language and Mediation emerged through a project intended to increase translation capacity within the country. The project started in autumn 2020 and in spring 2022, the Association will confirm its statutes and membership composition. This page tells the story so far.

Increasing Translation Capacity

Linguistic diversity is an intrinsic component of the identity of Sierra Leoneans and has proved to be a vulnerability in the 2014 Ebola pandemic. All the phases of communication in the disaster life cycle rely on information delivered in an accessible format and a language that affected communities understand. To sustain local communities in contributing to and understanding emergency planning, their engagement is important. Creating additional translation capacity may contribute to diminishing the vulnerabilities created by limited access to trustworthy information in disaster settings and to supporting a more resilient Sierra Leone through multilingual crisis communication.


In a joint project YMCA Sierra Leone, University College London (UCL) and the National Disaster Management Agency of Sierra Leone (NDMA) trained bilinguals as Citizen Translators and coordinated the translation of the official UNDRR terminologies into five local languages (Kono, Krio, Limba, Mende and Themne).

Furthermore, we engaged Amberpress, a Berlin design agency, and an expert from the Robert Koch Institut, to support the design of bespoke pictograms, one for each term, as an added language to support the translated UNDRR Terminology.

The team behind the project aimed to:

  • To translate the UNDRR Terminology into Kono, Krio, Limba, Mende, Themne.

  • To create multilingual resources usable by disaster managers operating among communities that speak these languages.

  • To enable speakers of Kono, Krio, Limba, Mende, and Themne to engage with risk reduction principles without the need for intermediaries.

  • To support equitable communication in current and future activities that focus focused on sustainable development and risk management in future activities by reducing the impact of a monolingual mindset and increasing linguistic equality.

  • To establish a professional Sierra Leonean Association of Language and Mediation (SLALM).

Phase 1: Translating the UNDRR Terminology (2020-2021)

Phase 2: The App (2022)

In January 2022, Harry Daintith, Anelia Gaydardzhieva, Wenyong Lai, Bobi Martens began work on the design of a bespoke app suitable to make the translated UNDRR Terminology into a widely usable resource, including recordings of the terms into the five languages and additional features to make the app interactive and useful in activities with multilingual communities.

Phase 3: The Association (2022-2023)

The Executive Committee of the Sierra Leonean Association of Language and Mediation (SLALM) oversees the creation and early development of the association.


The first phase was driven by a group of volunteers that involved researchers, trainers, and development specialists.

You can read all about the team here.



The 2020-2023 project has been supported by a number of sponsors along the way.

You can find out more about them here.