Sierra Leone Telegraph: 2 August 2021:
Sierra Leone’s National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA) last Wednesday discussed with partners about the need for improved disaster management, preparedness, response and recovery through effective collaboration.
The meeting brought together Pillar Heads and partners from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Red Cross Society-SL, National Fire Force, National Civil Registration Authority, Ministry of Social Welfare, World Food Program (WFP) and Sierra Leone Meteorological Agency.
In his welcome address, Deputy Director General of National Disaster Management Agency, John Rogers, expressed his profound thanks and appreciation to NDMA partners for the efficient partnership and collaboration in reducing the risk of disaster occurrences, preparedness and response over the years.
He further noted that the emergencies that are really challenging to the lives and properties of Sierra Leoneans occur during rainy season, when the vulnerability and risk are very high and that a large proportion is based in Freetown.
He also recognized the enormity of support NDMA has been getting from its international partners in the management of disasters in Sierra Leone.
In the area of capacity building, the DDG thanked the World Bank for hiring the professional service of a Consultant who has developed essential working tools and training for efficient logistical management for NDMA staff. The Consultant – Patricia Thurnhill will be in Sierra Leone for eight months.
The DDG also noted that NDMA and its partners have identified close to seventy high risk areas prone to disaster in Freetown, and that there is an ongoing work to mitigate the vulnerability of these communities.
The Director of Relief and Response, National Disaster Management Agency, Sinneh Mansaray said the Agency has reviewed the tools it used to conduct assessments to a standard where issues of registering disaster victims twice or people wanting to beat the system, is now under control. He said WFP has provided tablets that is now used to collect data on the field.
Mr. Mansaray pointed out that the National Civil Registration Authority (NCRA) is helping the NDMA as a pillar lead to identify victims when disaster occurs in given communities, using its database of residents in the country.
“It was extremely difficult to deal with the challenge of disaster victims to be popping up for registration more than once; but with this new system in place, this challenge is now a thing of the past. During assessment, if you miss out on the actual victims, there is every likelihood that you will miss all the other stages of disaster management, from response to logistics and to recovery. We must start to respond to disaster incidences within 72 hours of occurring as it is the required international standard”, he added.
Director Sinneh further appealed for continued collaboration and joint assessment before responding to disasters. He also warned that the National Disaster Management Agency Act 2020 gives the Agency the power to stop donor from donating to victims directly.
He said the Agency is now a stand-alone body that coordinates its activities unhindered. He said the Agency wants to avoid duplication of support through a coordinated strategy that will ensure victims get exactly what they need given their unique circumstances.
“We still have non-food items in our stores across the country from the mudslide and other disasters that we are using to respond to other occurrences in the country. About two weeks ago, we were in Kailahun District (Nyeama, Woloma, and Sengema), in Kenema District (Liliema, Giema, Kovaabu and Kpetema), in Kono (Kangama), in Freetown, (Bimkolo, Kissy, Leceister Road, Bowen Street and Bottom Oku).
He said that WPF has officially handed over one of the biggest warehouses in the country, located in Port Loko to NDMA, which means that the Agency now has the capacity to store as much items as possible.
Thank you NDMA, UNDP and all other agencies present in this occasion. I suggest we use ‘a stone to kill many birds’. We know if we embark on planting permanent crops it will reduce global worming, heavy storm and rain, flooding, combat deforestation, it will provide food security, and create employment. While taking short term plans let us also implement long or medium term strategy.
Is this a safe and trustworthy venture? Are the victims really receiving the aid they need? Why cant they get it directly? Why must it involve the agency with the distribution of the aid they should receive? It should be handed directly to ensure that they do receive the help. When the need is identified, there is no reason for the agency to be the distributor for the individuals’ needs. We are concerned about your distribution process. Please explain. From Grace Glory