Freetown City Council and TBI host workshop to build disaster risk management capacity

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 02 April 2022:

Following months of planning, Freetown City Council’s (FCC) newly established Disaster Risk Management (DRM) and Climate Action (CA) Unit, this week hosted a three-day workshop on the use of technology to build DRM capacity.

Funded by the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change (TBI), the programme was co-designed and facilitated by FCC and TBI’s Tech for Development team who had travelled to Freetown from California and Accra. The event was delivered in Freetown’s City Hall.

The Workshop brought together representatives from a range of international, national and local actors with an interest in DRM and Climate Action, including FCC Climate Change Committee Councillors and FCC staff, Mayor’s Delivery Unit, National Disaster Management Agency, the SL Met Agency, DSTI, NCRA, the Ministry of Social Welfare, the RUSLP programme, Community Disaster Management Committees (CDMCs), the Ministry of Water Resources, the National Fire Force, C40 Cities, Bournemouth University Disaster Management Centre (BUDMC) and a range of NGOs including Save the Children, World Vision, UNICEF, UNDP, IOM, CONCERN, CRS, CARE, CARITAS and Handicap International.

The workshop examined the scenario of a major flood to expose the key challenges faced by DRM/CA stakeholders. In a hybrid virtual/in person session on the workshop’s second day, leading tech providers from the US and Europe shared best practice on how these challenges could be faced with existing and/or emerging technologies.

On the final day, the workshop outlined the groundwork for a roadmap which will improve the coordination of the many technologies that already exist in Sierra Leone (e.g. CIS/GIS climate risk early warning systems, drones, cloud based data management, mobile money cash transfers); identify tech solutions that can be implemented now, and at relatively low cost (e.g. SMS flash messaging, open source satellite data); identify emerging technologies; and identify the national and sub-national beneficiaries and stakeholders required to advance the identified initiatives.

The Mayor and Director General of the National Disaster Management Agency (DG NDMA), both spoke about the role of technology as a facilitator, but not as a solution in itself. DG NDMA highlighted the need for this work to realise tangible results on the ground.

In her closing remarks the Mayor highlighted the workshop’s key role in FCC’s Climate Action Plan and FCC’s commitment to collaboration and community led action to overcome significant climate related risks, but also those resulting from poor urban planning and out of control deforestation.

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