Wednesday 29th June, 2022 – The National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA) with support from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), in collaboration with the National Fire Force (NFF) has completed its Community Engagement on Early Warning and Adaptation Mechanisms in Four Coastal Communities through a five-year Global Environmental Fund (GEF) project titled: “Adapting to climate change induced coastal risks management in Sierra Leone”. The project is aimed at bridging the knowledge gap in disaster risk identification, prevention and adaptation measures in vulnerable coastal communities.
The engagement attracted community leaders and representatives including chiefs, teachers, religious leaders, local organization leaders, business owners, landowners, drivers, bike riders, fish sellers, fishermen, students, the police and military officers in the four targeted coastal communities: Conakry-Dee in Port-Loko District, Shenge in Moyamba District, Bonthe Island in Bonthe District and Tombo in the Western Area Rural District of Sierra Leone.
The participants in Conakry-Dee, comprised seven (7) nearby communities (Rowal, Bailor, Menika, Kitonki, Mondor, Kateleh and Yongoro), five (5) in Shenge which comprised (Plantain Island, Katta, Tissana, Patti and Shengebole), nine (9) in Bonthe Island which comprised (Yelleh, Seh, Bakay, Turtle, Moyema, Yoh, Chepo, Mokutu and Handi Site) and six (6) in Tombo which comprised (Adonkia, Lakka, Goderick, Fisheries, Hamilton and Tombo)
The participants were taught basic skills in identifying disaster risk within their communities; how to develop adaptation plans and institute monitoring structures to ensure compliance; develop a holistic response plan and communication of the right risk messages to the right people in a timely manner within their communities.
The engagement also focused on fire prevention. The participants were educated on some of the basic methods of putting out (Class A, B, C, D and E) categories of fire and what to do to minimize the effect in the event of an outbreak.
After the community engagement, an hour radio program in each of the various districts such as Radio Galaxy 106.1 FM in Lungi; Radio MODCA 89.6 in Moyamba, Radio Bontico 96.9 in Bonthe and Radio Peninsula 96.0 in Tombo were held where the aforementioned preventive disaster risk strategies and risk communication skills were discussed for the benefit of a wider audience in all the communities.
During his welcome address in Conakry-Dee, Town Chief, Chief Pa Adikali S. Suma stated that the community engagement which has brought key stakeholders within his community and its environs is very significant. He assured that his community will put what they’ve been taught into practice. “Most of us have been informing our people about disaster management within our capacities, this program will validate the message that we have been spreading and the needs for more adherence.” he commented.
Similar sentiments, in other communities were expressed during the engagement by other leaders and representatives.
The Director of Communication at NDMA, Mr. Mohamed L. Bah who led the team underscored that an improved communication and community based-approach is strongly needed to lessen Sierra Leone’s vulnerability to flooding, fire, windstorm and landslide disasters across the country.” He assured.
According to the Director of Research, Monitoring & Evaluation of NDMA, Abubakarr Bangura, adaptation mechanism in disaster management should be community-based driven. “You have learnt about the adaptations measures, but the decision has to come from the community through effective planning and management” he added.
The Director of Fire Prevention at the National Fire Force, Abdulai Gassama Bockarie narrated the various categories of fire and demonstrated how it can be prevented and told the participants not to panic in an event of fire outbreak, “When you notice fire in your place, try not to panic. Panicking can make you forget how to act effectively” he said.
In her presentation, NDMA’s Deputy Director of Communications, Philomena Isatu Turay who presented on Early Warning Systems stated that she is happy for the amount of women that were invited. She claimed that women and their children are the most vulnerable population when it comes to disasters. She said that Early Warning Systems are the bedrock in analyzing issues of disasters in the community. “It is commonly said that warning before wounded. This is true because when people are warned earlier, they are in a better position to plan thoroughly; mitigate continuously; reduce risk always and if disaster occurs, respond sufficiently and effectively.” She stated.
At Tombo, a fish monger, Zainab Conteh stated that, they are experiencing fire incidents because their ovens are made of woods. She called on government through the NDMA and its partners to support them with metal ovens. She also said that similar engagements with a wide range of participants is needed for better understanding in managing their hazards.
“This type of engagement should attract large audience for better understanding. In order to prevent fire, we want government and NDMA to help us with metal ovens for our fish drying work as we are challenged in acquiring metal materials.” She said.
The National Disaster Management Agency will continue its risk reduction drive, closing the knowledge gap and ensuring effective response mechanisms to disaster related matters across the country.
For More Enquiries:
Directorate of Communications
National Disaster Management Agency