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Inflation bites into Sierra Leone’s all-important ‘cookeries’

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Sierra Leone’s ‘cookeries’ are more than snack stalls  for many people, they provide the only affordable meal of the day.

Jariatu Kargbo hauls a wooden spoon longer than her arm through a vat of rice as customers patiently wait their turn to buy lunch on the side of a busy road.

The 38-year-old widow runs a stall called a “cookery” the cheapest option for many Sierra Leoneans to grab what is often their only meal of the day.

Cookeries in this impoverished West African state are a crucial part of the economy as well as a social safety net.

But the cherished institution is under pressure from a brutal exernal force: inflation.

“Prices for major food items — rice, cooking oil, onion, sugar and flour — have quadrupled,” Kargbo said, as the smell of boiled beans wafted over from behind her.

Cookeries in Freetown, the capital, sell rice and stew at a fraction of what they would cost in a restaurant.

“These predominantly women are kind of the backbone of the city in terms of keeping it fed, because a lot of…

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