World Bank supports Sierra Leone’s Emergency Preparedness and Response Plan

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 28 November 2020:

At the launching of the National Disaster Management Agency in Sierra Leone almost ten days ago, World Bank Country Manager – Gayle Martin, spoke about the Bank’s commitment to the wellbeing of the people of Sierra Leone, as she expressed the importance of accountability, prudence and transparency in managing funding and other resources.

“As the experiences with Ebola and COVID have shown, the existence of an Emergency Operating Center is critical for an expedited response to any crisis. I urge the NDMA to build robust systems for accounting and accountability. From a fiscal management perspective, value for money – even in emergencies – is something that communities in Sierra Leone as well as the international community care about.

“During disasters, some development priorities often have to be postponed, and spending on disaster response therefore has high opportunity costs. The need for the NDMA to ensure that resources are spent prudently and transparently is critical to the success of the new agenda,” the World Bank Country Manager in Sierra Leone, reminded the Bio-led government.

This is what she said: 

“In the global ranking of natural hazard risks, Sierra Leone is ranked as the third most vulnerable country. Due to climate change, un-planned development and urbanization, the risks for disasters continue. When disasters strike, lives and livelihoods are lost, and sometimes hard-won gains in poverty reduction are reversed. It is therefore appropriate that we are here today.

After the August 2017 landslide and flood disaster, the World Bank supported the Government –  under the leadership of the Office of National Security–to undertake a Multi-hazard Risk Assessment and a Damage and Loss Assessment.

The assessments outlined some key priorities and financing needs for resilient recovery and reconstruction.

One fundamental recommendation was the establishment of an independent institution for disaster management that will facilitate the building of resilience and enhancing human security.

I commend the President for his vision, leadership and decisive action culminating in today’s launch of the National Disaster Management Agency. In emergencies and disasters, the comparative advantage of the World Bank is the development response, not the humanitarian response. “Building Back Better” very aptly captures this medium- to long-term development perspective.

The 2017 Damage and Loss Assessment also led to World Bank financing of the Freetown Emergency Recovery Project which supported recovery needs, as well as contributing the building of institutions to respond to future disasters.

The Project financed the stabilization and remediation of the Mortemeh landside site and the reconstruction of drainage infrastructure across the city. Ongoing activities that will be concluded in 2021 are: the upgrading of 5 bridges in the landslide affected area; the rehabilitation of the Babadorie Water Treatment Plant, and enhancing water access to affected communities.

In addition, vulnerable communities across Western Area were supported through training and equipment to self-organize and manage disaster risk.

At the institutional level, the World Bank supported an Emergency Preparedness and Response Capacity Needs Assessment—only the Bank can come up with such a long title! Other areas of support include the strengthening of Early Warning Systems—through the provision of equipment and training to the Sierra Leone MET (Meteorological) Agency and the National Water Resource Management Agency to better forecast extreme events.

In the roll-out of the NDMA we are supporting the government to develop two key timely activities: Firstly, the National Disaster Risk Management Policy is being updated to reflect new institutional arrangements and realities on the ground. Secondly, an Emergency Preparedness and Response Plan will be developed to ensure operational procedures and standards are in place in advance of future disasters.

Going forward, the World Bank is mobilizing resources to support some of the immediate capital investment needs to setup the new agency. For example, the development of a national disaster Emergency Operations Center (EOC), which will provide a coordination platform for disaster preparedness and response.

The role of any Disaster Management Agency is multi-disciplinary and cross-cutting, and is relevant to all sectors of the economy. Managing disaster risk requires a high level of coordination and convening power to work across a variety of stakeholders and sectors.

The NDMA therefore requires the authority and ability to activate, or cause to activate, national emergency measures at the time of a disaster. It is also required to convene MDAs across sectors at the highest level – both during times of emergency, as well as in disaster prevention and preparedness.

As the experiences with Ebola and COVID have shown, the existence of an Emergency Operating Center is critical for an expedited response to any crisis. I urge the NDMA to build robust systems for accounting and accountability. From a fiscal management perspective, value for money – even in emergencies – is something that communities in Sierra Leone as well as the international community care about.

During disasters, some development priorities often have to be postponed, and spending on disaster response therefore has high opportunity costs. The need for the NDMA to ensure assured that resources are spent prudently and transparently is critical to the success of the new agenda. Congratulations once again, Mr. President, and I thank you all.”

2 Comments

  1. Vulnerable? The Governments have made the nation so vulnerable, because these governments have been noticeably, lacking vision, fore-sight and are deeply corrupt. They have been a disaster. Of course, not withstanding the natural contributions of climate, the truth be told, our governments are a mess and first disaster. Our leaders are visionless and a public safety concern. Even when the warning signs are written on the wall, they ignored. Take for instance, the intensified flooding menaces in Freetown and fatalities suffered by people, businesses and homes during every raining season, the past few years. The government is well aware, it is an increasingly frequent and damaging occurrence in the capital city.

    Yet, no flood defense initiatives have been put in place. No construction of drainages, no good and clean sewer systems, no floodwalls, pavements or sidewalks, in and around the flood prone areas. They are waiting until disaster stricks again, to cry. With the mudslide disaster of 2017, the rainfall intensity and flooding every year, with its destruction of life, property, homes and businesses, one will be tempted to think, the governments have learnt many lessons from these devastations that, complacency should be replaced by preparedness and procrastination by readiness. But, I am afraid our governments are still content with what the former US President, George Bush had called “the self bigotry of low expectation”

    Kudos to the government of the day for the idea of a National Disaster Management Agency NDMA. Institution building is always smart thinking and putting structures in place for any eventuality, seen or unforeseen is even more. However, in addition to the word of caution, by World Bank Country Manager, please Mr. Government, do not politicize, tribalize or regionalize the operations, distributions of resources and appointments to positions of the National Relief Center. Lastly, my question is, if establishing the NDMA was so important to your government, to provide relief for victims of natural disasters, then why should it’s announcement come second, only after the elusive training of 500 forest guards? Compare the two outfits, in terms of their national necessity and party relevance, can you elaborate on the main role of the forest guards?

  2. When it comes to support for our governments by the IMF and other international financial institutions, they have always been generous in giving us a helping hand. There is no stringent measures put in place by this financial institution that denied us funding, despite the unchecked corruption amongst our politicians that they are known for. So far these international financial institutions are our willing partners; they are doing everything to point us in the right direction, like accountability and investing in long-term sustainable development goals, that will benefit the many and not the few. Like environmental disaster prevention. So far, all they get is a lukewarm response from our elected representatives. These monies are meant to help us Sierra Leoneans to keep our heads above water. In reality, we never see these funds. They always seem to disappear into the pockets of greedy politicians.

    The World Bank country resident, Gayle Martin, kept reminding Bio’s government to spend the resources prudently, and transparently, with careful planning, so these funds do not go to waste. Instead of spending the monies on white elephant projects, we will be best served if we are prepared, with response time at the forefront of our thinking and planning for recovery, it will help lessen the impact of disasters in communities affected. To equip our hospitals and emergency services, will go a long way to put the country in sound footing on how it responds when disasters strike. Identify the areas at risk, especially communities exposed to climate change disasters, like Freetown and the Sherbro Islands, or those living in the flood zones, is a sure way of helping these communities back onto their feet in the wake of such disasters.

    Gayle Martin must be rooting her hair out in trying to instill a sense of transparency and accountability to a government, that is all too willing to accept these funds, but never live up to the expectations of what they are really meant for. I think the World Bank should set up an auditing mechanism, whereby they not only advice governments to spend these funds prudently, but demand to know where the funds are spent. Until the World Bank start to demand where their money is spent, and set up an accountability process or to use the COVID19 phrase “TRACK AND TRACE”, these monies will never benefit communities they are meant to help. The Ebola disaster relief monies, the millions of dollars received after the senseless RUF wars, the floodings to help rebuild our country end up to swell the bank balances of corrupt politicians, whilst the victims of the war and Ebola are left high and dry to fend for themselves.

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