Sierra Leone’s recurrent floods and mudslides
By Kortor Kamara
The Norte Dame Global Adaption Index in 2017 ranked Sierra Leone 158 out of 182 countries for vulnerability to climate change. It is estimated that 35 percent of our population is at risk with a mortality risk exposure from multiple hazards including floods and mudslides.
With the increasing frequency of natural disasters, catastrophe accidents and Sierra Leone’s vulnerability to their escalating human and financial losses, it is no longer acceptable for platitudes and mere lip service by policymakers and institutions that acts of God are inevitable.
Therefore, the mere reactions of shock and empathy by politicians and policymakers, without embarking on identifying and analyzing the causes of these mudslides and flood disasters and implementing mitigation policies that will, if not totally prevent, but certainly minimize such, should no longer be acceptable. It is critical that as we embark on recovery and reconstruction, following these ongoing floods, our policy makers and disaster response management professionals must prevent actions that end up creating further disaster risks by ensuring hazard assessments and public sensitization.
The creation in 2004 of a disaster management department, within the Office of National Security (ONS) is inadequate and despite having both a national disaster management policy and a national disaster preparedness and response plan on paper, both of which were deemed not fully operational, according to the World Bank “Sierra Leone: Rapid Damage and Loss Assessment of August 14, 2017 Landslides and Floods in the Western Area” report.
Major natural disasters and accidents have severe negative socio-economic ramifications on societies. However, in developed societies systems and programs involving severity loss minimization of natural catastrophe disaster risks abound. It is thus hoped that as a first step a structural strategy framework designed to identify the nation’s disaster vulnerabilities and catastrophe loss potentials, with adequate financing mechanisms through risk management and insurance is commissioned to address the adverse financial effects within the larger society.