Lives lost and homes destroyed as Freetown experiences heavy rains

Mayor Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 28 August 2022:

My heart goes out to the families of the six people who died in the mudslide at Looking Town today Sunday, 28th August 2022. The deceased (a husband, wife and their baby, another child and two men) lived in two adjacent homes perched on a steep slope in the hills above Kissy.

Like many other informal settlements, there is no road to the community, it is accessed via a 15 minute walk along a narrow footpath. As I spoke with survivors and neighbors, I could clearly see a huge boulder positioned precariously above the community. A poignant reminder of the risk of disaster this community lives with daily. (Photos: Mayor Aki-Sawyerr visits areas affected by August 2022 heavy rains).

In Culvert community, the river had overflowed its bank. We had visited this community last week after Sunday’s heavy rains, and plans were underway to dredge the river; the rains came again before that work could start. But dredging the river will not be sufficient.

We went further downstream from Culvert to Kanikay where we saw how the mouth of the river is being closed through “banking”. The banking is so extensive that the once vast water expanse between Kissy Dockyard and Kanikay is closing.

The flooding of coastal communities will worsen as natural waterways and protective mangroves are destroyed through banking. The same phenomenon is being experienced in the west of Freetown where the Aberdeen Creek is being banked to the extent that the Lumley Beach Road is now almost connected to Cockle Bay.

Climate change is real and extreme weather events are set to continue. We must prepare for these and protect our communities from the risks of mudslides, landslides and floods. We must stop the deforestation of our hillsides and the destruction of our mangroves (largely driven by housing construction).

We must stop the construction of structures in waterways, we must stop dumping waste in gutters and waterways.

Contrary to views I’ve often heard expressed about Freetown, it is not too late to introduce land use planning and an environmentally sensitive building permit regime. I will continue to advocate for these functions to be devolved to the 22 Local Councils in accordance with the provisions of the Local Government Act 2004 so that they can be implemented.

There were disasters of varying degrees of severity in many communities across the city today, and I would like to thank NDMA, FCC Councillors and the FCC Disaster Risk Management Unit, Community Disaster Management Committees (CDMCs), National Fire Force, Caritas, CRS, IRFC and all others who worked throughout today to assist the affected communities.

Sadly it is predicted that there will be more extreme weather events as unfortunately globally warming is set to continue. Let us do all that we can to be prepared for this, so that we can save lives and properties.

In addition to planting more trees, effective land use planning and an environmentally sensitive building permit regime that is actually implemented will save lives.






Mayor Aki-Sawyerr speaks about the heavy rains disaster and what needs to be done:

1 Comment

  1. For over centuries man and the environmental have coexisted , with seasonal rainfall and the drying season as predictable events . Except for December when we experiend the Hammertan season . That time of the year when Plam oil become a most get vasiline to help with dry skin . May the soul of the dead rest in peace .Over the last few decades we’ve witnessed in horror how man made climate change, lack of urban planning and deforestation have all contributed to what is now becoming the norm rather than the exception .Thousand of Sierra leoneans have lost their lives and the dewellings unnecessary because the goverment have failed to tackle this problem head on .Bio who have benefited so much on legal and illegal logging continue to look the other way as the deforeststion of our rainforest continued unabated .Most of it is shipped to China , where environmental laws and protection of their rain forest is jealously enforced with out fear or favor .During the COP26 climate conference Bio was asked if he is going to crackdown on illegal logging , but even the journalist that put the question to Bio was surprised at the answer Bio gave .Yes he said his government will take the necessary steps to crack down on illegal logging .But not the hard to reach areas of the country . Which is 80% of our rainforest .Well Mr Presisent Freetown is not a hard to reach area .But as the Mayor alluded to most of the mangroves that acts as natural barriers to stop this sort of disasters that are becoming a common recurrence , have being cut down , leaving the soil exposed to the gravitational pull of the flash flooding .This man made climate crises can be addressed if the political will to act is there .As Taugeer Sheik puts its commenting on the recent floodings in Pakistan :”The development path chosen since earlier times has resulted in a competitive eco zero sum relationship with our natural environment -forest , waterways , water bodies and ecosystem.Gravity propels the water flow , but our development model is assisting in defying gravity .Our settlement infracuture , economy , livilhoodsvand livestock , all have become unnecessary vulnerable and fragile primary because we have been obstructing the waters flow.” If anything that what’s “Banking”is doing to us .The Bio goverment needs to work with the Mayor to come up with solutions .

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