By: Mohamed L. Bah
Director of Communications
National Disaster Management Agency
The United Nations in Sierra Leone has in its 2021 Annual Report, recognized the accomplishment of the National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA), stating the national preparedness and response systems demonstrated timely and effective leadership, coordination, and response regarding numerous disasters.
His Excellency President Dr Julius Maada Bio launched the National Disaster Management Agency in November 2019 with an express hope that the agency will use science, innovation and data to predict, anticipate, plan for, report and manage the disaster cycle in the country.
The UN has been a significant partner in supporting the work of the NDMA, which has enabled the Agency to strengthen its community structures to sustain mechanisms to coordinate disaster management and timely response to disasters through quality data and appropriate tools for hazard profiling and beneficiary targeting. The community-level structure is activated to champion disaster prevention actions through early warning and reporting.
World Food Programme (WFP) has been supporting the capacity expansion of the NDMA in 2020 including handing over the Port Loko logistics base, repairs of the military trucking fleet used by NDMA to do disaster response, and setting up coordination systems and response clustering. WFP also brought a specialist to support NDMA in strategic, technical, and operational support and keeping in line with Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) in 2021/2022.
The report reads: “Functional system to manage disaster was extended to a community level by setting up, equipping and training of 16 Chiefdom Disaster Management Committees (CDMCs) in Kailahun and Kambia districts. To make this community structure work effectively, the United Nations-supported the progress and use of disaster terminology dictionary in four Sierra Leonean local languages (Krio, Temne, Mende and Limba) and updated Disaster Risk Reduction SOPs”.
Since its inception, the Agency has embarked on a series of disaster mitigation activities including stopping people from constructing houses illegally, cleaning glugged drainages and hazard profiling to determine high-risk areas and for intervention. The Agency recently completed an assessment to identify fuel stations that pose threat to lives and property for appropriate action.
The NDMA has been engaging the public, through radio/TV/Press Releases and community outreach programmes, to sensitise them about weather patterns through the technical support of the Sierra Leone Meteorological Agency, how to avert the cause of fire outbreaks, how to manage flood-prone areas during the rains to reduce risk, where to construct a house to avoid the effect of heavy windstorms and educate them on climate change adaptions.
Similarly, the Agency has responded to 142 reported incidents, ranging from a flash floods, windstorms, and fire outbreaks across the country. It has also provided relief supports (food items) to a total of 4,929 households, provided building materials to 1,446 house owners and 62 public facilities to help them rebuild and also gave direct cash transfers as start-up capital to 226 business people. NDMA has responded to a total population size of 24,197, covering 12 districts and 52 chiefdoms.
The NDMA will continue to collaborate with both local and international partners in strengthening the capacity of staff and the development of resilient communities to enhance the work of the Agency in addressing recurrent and foreseen incidents in the country.