NDMA Headquarters, Aberdeen, Freetown, 24th August, 2022 — The National Disaster Management Agency has activated a Technical Working Group which comprises representatives from the Sierra Leone Institute of Geoscientists, Geology Department of Fourah Bay College (USL), Sierra Leone Institute of Engineers, UNOPS, Ministry of Environment, National Protected Area Authority, and Environmental Protection Agency to critically assess an incident report of cracks around the Mortormeh Peninsula Forest Reserve and proffer recommendations for action.
It could be recalled that on the 18th of August 2022, NDMA reported that it had received a report of widening cracks just opposite where the August 14th, 2017 Mudslide occurred, from stakeholders within the Mortormeh Community.
The Agency immediately dispatched an assessment team from the Directorates of Disaster Risk Reduction & Preparedness and Research, Monitoring and Evaluation in collaboration with the Minister of Environment, Professor Foday Jawad and representatives from the Environmental Protection Agency and National Protected Area Authority to conduct a vulnerability and risk assessments of the area.
An initial assessment report was done for the attention of all relevant stakeholders in the environment sector, and key amongst the action points was to activate the technical group.
On Tuesday, 23rd August 2022, the technical team met at NDMA office for conservation on the incident that was reported. The meeting was chaired by the Deputy Director General of the NDMA John Vandy Rogers and Co-chaired by the Director of Environmental Disaster at the Ministry of Environment, Mr Lahai Keita.
In his welcome address, the Chairman thanked the team for their prompt response to a national call. ‘’This is already an emergency and I’m calling on all of you specialists to work on this technical team and tender credible recommendations and solutions to save lives, protect properties and prevent disruption of our economy”, he said.
Whilst making his statement, the Director of Disaster Risk Reduction & Preparedness, Thomas Lebbie welcomed all and thanked them for accepting the emergency invitation to have a conversation on preventing a major disaster that would have negative consequences on lives, infrastructures, and social services and livelihoods. ‘’We need to act now and tough in making the right decisions for all”, he noted.
Lahai Keita, who represented the Minister of Environment said, the minister is committed to this process and he is among senior government representatives who have visited the said area. He reiterated his commitment to the process and also highlighted critical areas which experienced landslides following the August 14th 2017 disasters.
Head of the Geology Department at Fourah Bay College (USL), Mr. Yusuf Lahai thanked the NDMA for the invite. He said they have been involved in several assessments not only at Mortormeh but the entire Western Area. And there were recommendations made for authorities to follow.
According to him, the reports took a critical assessment of Mortormeh and all other areas which were hit by the August 2017 landslides. He said they have inventories of maps of those areas and will eloquently state that the percentage of landslides which occurred within the forested areas exceeded those that affected urbanized communities.
On the specific issue of the reported cracks, he said the team needs to undertake further studies to ascertain the level of discontinuities underground. “The situation at hand now requires immediate evacuation of people along that path. But what criteria can be used to determine that decision must be investigated so we won’t repeat the same mistakes of the past” he concluded.
President of the Sierra Leone Institute of Geoscientists (SLIG), Ansu Katta, thanked the NDMA for reaching out to them. He said this is part of their mandate and they were delighted to take part in the process and are also obliged to always serve their nation in time of need.
He further went on to state that there is no better time than now because the risks are critical and high. “SLIG has a hub of experts who will partake in the assessment, validate the reports, and also provide critical recommendations for decision making”.
He continued: “I am delighted to be part of this discussion and my institution was amongst the first team experts that did an assessment and ascertained what caused the landslide. We are a group of technical experts that are willing to support, validate, assess and provide key decision-making processes on this issue”, he surmised
A detailed presentation was done by the Director of Research (M&E) at the NDMA, Abu Bakarr Bangura. The presentation focused on all risk reduction assessment activities undertaken over the last two years. The objective was to showcase the extent of NDMA’s involvement in identifying issues of potential risks across the Western Area.
Conclusively, it was agreed that a period of one month is given to the SLIG and the Department of Geology to present a draft report to the NDMA for action.
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