Sierra Leone Telegraph: 21 June 2018:
The Freetown City Council (FCC) yesterday reported it has started implementing its flood mitigation plan, designed to reduce flooding in the city and reduce humanitarian, health and economic impact on residents, as the rainy season sets in.
Sierra Leone, the council says, is noted for having one of the highest annual rainfalls in Africa. Over the past five years, at least four major floods have affected over 220,000 people across Sierra Leone, leaving thousands dead and causing severe economic destruction.
Freetown is particularly prone to floods, caused by uncontrolled and uncoordinated human activities such as deforestation, slum settlements along waterways and hill tops and poor waste management that block drainages and other waterways.
In August last year for instance, over 500 people were killed by mudslide and flash floods in Freetown and about 500 more remain unaccounted for.
The annual average flood damage in the capital city has been estimated to be as high as US$2.5m a year.
The FCC is raising awareness about the impacts of poor waste management on the environment. It says that it will be embarking on a rigorous 15-day cleaning exercise, in especially disaster prone areas of Freetown; clear up drains, gutters and culverts; encourage communities to develop their own flood mitigation plans; and strengthen enforcement to prevent disposal of waste in gutters, culverts and waterways.
Commenting on the flood management plan, the Mayor of Freetown – Mrs. Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr, said: “Flooding in Freetown is a regular problem during the rainy season. We know the causes – heavy rainfall, deforestation, buildings in streams, inadequate garbage collection and the inadequate design of the existing drainage infrastructure and poor maintenance have worsened the problem.
“FCC’s flood mitigation plan uses simple, cost-effective methods, that all of Freetown’s residents can follow on a daily basis, to save lives and livelihoods. With small changes to our behaviour, we can all be good neighbours and save our city from another disaster.”
“Preparedness is crucial in ensuring the safety of residents of any community, in the event of an emergency,” said Hamid El-Bashir, UNICEF Representative to Sierra Leone. “We are supporting the City Council in this initiative to help ensure clean environments for the people of Freetown, and prevent flood related disasters and disease outbreaks that usually have heavy tolls on especially women and children,” she warns.
Prior to the development of the plan, representatives from the FCC, the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces and Sierra Leone Roads Authority, had mapped out flood prone communities with strategies for reduction.
The FCC’s flood reduction operation is supported by the World Food Program, the Chinese Embassy, Catholic Relief Services, Sierra Leone Red Cross, GOAL, UNOPS, G4S, Office of National Security and Ministry of Health and Sanitation.