Freetown, 11th October 2023 – As part of its mandate, the National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA) has commenced a nationwide provision of food and non-food items as relief support to fire, flood, and wind storm victims in the Western Area. This direct aid is geared towards helping the victims rebuild their homes and restore their livelihoods.
Since the beginning of the year, the NDMA has recorded a total of 17 fire incidents which gutted homes and reduced belongings to ashes, 42 wind storm incidents which also left a public facility roofless, and 4 flooding incidents. These sudden calamities brought great damage, loss, destruction, and devastation to life and property. The damage caused varies from one location to the other.
Consequently, the NDMA conducted thorough assessments nationwide to ascertain the vastness of damage caused, the affected population and households, as well as the cause of fire outbreaks to help classify the type and degree of response. A comprehensive report was also presented to the Office of the President with recommendations on the next steps. His Excellency, President Julius Maada Bio, wasted no time in approving the commencement of the direct relief support to the victims.
In Freetown, fire victims from Beccles Lane, Brookfields, Soldier Street, Third Street, Mountain Cut, Kaningo, and Upper Brook Street today received assorted relief items from the NDMA as direct support in a bid to cushion the impact on them. This response will continue nationwide (South, East, North, and Northwest) in the coming days.
Each household, in the Western Area, received a rice bag of 50kg, and 2 gallons of vegetable cooking oil while landlords received 5 bundles of zinc, five packets of roofing nails, and five packets of 3- & and 4-inch nails respectively.
Presenting the items at the various locations, the Deputy Director of Relief and Response, NDMA, Farouk O. Newland, started by sympathizing with the victims. He told them that the relief support was coming directly from the President.
“This support is from His Excellency, President Julius Maada Bio. He is the one who established this Agency to respond to unfortunate incidents like these. However, this Agency is not only there to be responding to disasters, but to also mitigate the occurrence of disasters across the country”, he said.
Director of Communications, NDMA, Mohammed L. Bah, also weighed in by stating that there are two main types of disasters – man-made and natural disasters. He said most disasters the NDMA has responded to are man-made, hence, victims have a responsibility to choose where to live and avoid engaging in activities that are inimical to their lives and properties. Mr. Bah further noted that in 2022, 70 percent of the recorded fire incidents were electrically related.
“The NDMA has recorded 65 disaster incidents this year ranging from windstorm, fire, flooding, sloop collapse, and thunder & and lightning. Consequently, we had an affected population of 8781, and we are going to respond to them across the country. I’m therefore admonishing you the victims not to connect many flats to one meter, and endeavor to hire the services of qualified electricians to do their electrical installations, do not make illegal connections, and not use high voltage appliances on substandard circuit breakers and extensions. If we all do this, it will help to greatly minimize the rate of fire incidents, and save lives and properties.” He surmised.
Mr. Mohamed Kamara, a landlord at Upper Brook Street, while receiving the building materials, said he was extremely happy with the kind gesture from the NDMA. He said the roof of their houses – which has been the bedrock in providing shelter for his family and other families, will be restored.
Recipients at the various locations also joined the queue in thanking HE Julius Maada Bio for establishing the NDMA and supporting it in responding to such emergencies. At Beckle Lane, Brookfields, a recipient, Mary Bangura said: “This is the first time our home has been consumed by fire. But unfortunately for us, on that faithful day, our house got burnt, The NDMA visited and collected our names and contact numbers and promised to provide some items for us, and today, they are here with the items, so I’m very happy”, she noted.
The National Disaster Management Agency will continue to update the public on its response to victims of disaster-related incidents in Freetown and across the country throughout this phase.