NDMA Conference Hall, Aberdeen, Freetown, May 24, 2022 — The National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA) has engaged stakeholders from the Office of the Chief Minister (CM), Sierra Leone Meteorological Agency (Met – SL), Sierra Leone Road Authority (SLRA), Road Maintenance Fund Administration (RMFA), Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF), Freetown City Council (FCC), Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), World Food Programme (WFP) and other International Non-governmental Organizations on flood mitigation through coordinated multi-stakeholder approaches and community engagements.
As part of its mandate to manage all disasters and similar emergencies throughout Sierra Leone, and to develop the capacity of communities to respond effectively to disasters and emergencies, NDMA which also has the responsibility to implement government’s policy on Disaster Prevention, Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Risk Management has rightfully engaged all the relevant stakeholders in order to mitigate floodings throughout the country.
At a joint meeting with the Hon. Chief Minister, Jacob Jusu Saffa, on the 16th of May, 2022, the CM acceded the responsibility of Flood Mitigation in the country to the National Disaster Management Agency. Prior to that, both the FCC and SLRA were in charge of Flood Mitigation with support from RSLAF and other stakeholders respectively.
According to the Director-General of NDMA, Lt. Gen. (Rtd), Brima Sesay, the meeting was to engage stakeholders and partners in addressing the risk of flooding at National Level, adding that: “The Freetown City Council and the Sierra Leone Road Authority have led flood mitigation plans over the years. As part of our mandate, the Chief Minister in a meeting on 16th of May, 2022 directed that the responsibility of Flood Mitigation be acceded to the NDMA”.
NDMA’s Deputy Director General, John V. Rogers, who doubled as Co-Chairman of the meeting shared insight on past and recent flood disasters within Sierra Leone and across the world. “As of recent, over 800,000 people were displaced in India and Bangladesh due to flooding. For Sierra Leone, the ‘2015 September 16th’ flooding which left over 10,000 people homeless, the August 14th 2017 Landslide and Flooding which impacted us negatively as a nation is still fresh in our minds”, he stressed.
Broadening on the subject, the DDG furthered that majority of the public are in the habit of throwing garbage in gutters and drainages especially during the rainy season, thus causing serious problems such as flooding and outbreak of diseases like cholera, etc.
Laying more emphasis on how stakeholders present at the meeting can brainstorm and identify resources to mitigate the risk of flooding within the country, the DDG also stressed the importance of community engagements and use of the media and strategic communications for behaviorial change amongst the public.
Additionally, a comprehensive presentation was done by both the Director of Research, Monitoring & Evaluation, Abubakarr Bangura and the Director of Risk Reduction & Preparedness, Thomas A. Lebbie. In their presentation, they explained about a proposed five-day cleaning exercise as an immediate strategy to mitigate the risk of flooding, targeting high risk areas across the country as well as a long term strategy.
Integrated in their presentation were essential details of resource mapping by institutions as well as institutional roles and responsibilities which includes Coordination, Logistics and Equipment, Manpower, Community and Media Engagements.
Emphasizing its Roles and Responsibilities, NDMA is rightfully responsible for Coordination and Communication whilst the forces (SLP, NFF, NPAA, Metro Pol etc), are obliged to provide manpower logistics and equipment. Development Partners and International Non-governmental Organizations together with the relevant Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies are expected to handle logistics as supervisory roles are ascribed to the Office of National Security (ONS).
The Director of Maintenance – SLRA, Ing. Paul Demby stated that there have been flood disasters over the past years and SLRA has been mitigating several risks areas and that for this year, they are expected to start in July. “We have funding for flood mitigation for the months of July – September. We have also identified 65 streets and 25 flash flood points which RMFA has funded”, he said.
The Director of Planning Programmes, Monitoring & Evaluation – RMFA, Mariwan Kallon stated that they were very concerned about floodings and disclosed that they do not have enough funds to manage all the roads in the country. “The worst road enemies are water (flooding) and traffic. Traffic can be easily managed but water which causes flooding can deposit debris that can destroy roads more quicker than expected. So far, RMFA has already approved funding to SLRA for flood mitigation but there can still be room for deliberation on funding possibilities at higher level”, he added.
Civil Engineer, RMFA, Madam Yasin Bangura explained how the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF) has provided immense support to previous Flood Mitigations that were coordinated by SLRA and FCC, saying majority of the waste causing serious problems are plastics materials.
She also called for a sustainable plan for better flood mitigation in the city. “We have been working with FCC, SLRA, RSLAF and Community Youths on previous mitigations, one thing we learnt is that after any short break for lunch, community youths will depart and leave the task. It is only the RSLAF personnel that will commit fully in that regard”.
The Director, Office of the Chief Minister, Ing. Monica K. S. Kamara provided enough justification for NDMA’s Coordination of the National Flood Mitigation. She also made mention of the relevance and urgency of the five days short term strategy of NDMA.
“The proposal and budget of the exercise should be made available first to our development partners then to the relevant MDAs. This is an emergency response which I believe government can squeeze the RMFA and Ministry of Finance to fund”, she noted.
The Project Manager – UNOPS, Mr. Himhisa Kondo explained that last year, they constructed drainages within various prone communities and they are focusing on the construction of drainages at Susan’s Bay community. He therefore requested for the proposal in order to see how UNOPS can support swiftly.
The Disaster Risk Reduction Officer – UNDP, Margaret S. Dauda said that they have provided funding for flood disaster documentary and jingles which is done in three local languages (Krio, Mende and Temne) to boost the communication team. She also requested for the proposal and budget in order for the UNDP to act upon.
The Advocacy Officer – Goal SL, Mr. Brima Sheriff stated that all the flood mitigation messages by the Media and Communication team should also be in WhatsApp Version for better dissemination. He pushed for the utilization of mobile Visual Display Vehicles (Grand Screen) as well as the inclusion of drama. He added that the National Civic Education Secretariat is useful for the creation and design of messages. He concluded by expressing trust in the process and assured of Goal’s commitment as usual.
The Assistant Secretary – MIC, Madam Isatu J. Jalloh suggested that the plans should be given a national face through their weekly press briefing of which NDMA had been invited on Thursday 26th May, 2022. She added that she will engage both the Director of Communications and that of the Director of the Strategic Communications Unit at MIC.
Representatives from other UN Agencies and International Non-governmental Organizations such as Mr. Hassan John Sarteh of Catholic Relief Service, Mr. John Swarray of Action for Hunger, Mr. Francis Rogers of World Food Programme, Mr. Guerendel Rebillion of UNICEF, Madam Juliet Sannoh of World Vision, Mr. E. T. Sandy of Sierra Leone Red Cross Society and Madam Margaret S. Dauda of UNDP requested for the National Flood Mitigation proposal and budget.
In conclusion, the Co-Chairman of the meeting, General Ronnie Harleston of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF) assured everyone of his support, reiterating that it is the mandate of NDMA to coordinate the National Flood Mitigation Strategy.
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