Since the start of the raining season, there has been reports of flood and other disasters in certain areas of the country with a recent flood that occurred at Kaninago around Lumley and mudslide at Falcon Bridge.
This is due to the fact that most people build houses in areas that are prone to disaster.
In light of this, the Office of National Security (ONS) yesterday at the Miattia Conference Hall launched the National Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) in Sierra Leone, with the vision for a safer and more resilient Sierra Leone through the reduction of risks and leveraging of capacities.
President Ernest Bai Koroma in launching the DRR platform said that its high time people living in certain areas which are disaster prone and people continue to build at these places.
“As a government, they should stop sensitization and focus on the enforcement of laws. There should be no immunity for people living in these areas; we must not allow people to lead us to disaster.”
The President went on to state that “12 hours rain should not affect our country’s GDP as the money that is spent on disaster should be diverted to other developmental programmes.”
President Koroma stated further that disaster has been happening frequently and it is very close to this country as neighboring countries like Ghana, Liberia and Niger are experiencing it and government is overwhelmed by this disaster. He added that even the government of Japan was overwhelmed by the Tsunami that occurred in Japan this year, and the world is always responding to disaster when it happens.
He said “We have to be serious and determined in disaster risk management, so we must take a holistic approach, we have to focus on the prevention and capacity on risk management.”
Speaking about prevention, President Koroma said, “They should educate people on what to do and not to. People are still building houses where they should not build, deforestation is another area which gives room for disaster and these areas should come under prevention.”
He urged the agency to ensure enforcement of the law as government has adopted the policies and action and that today’s activities is in line with the action they are about to take.
The President challenged them that effort must be enhanced as they go along.
He went on “this issue is critical and borders on our survival, people are losing houses, lives and the government is also losing tourism as some beaches are going down.”
He said “We cannot wait until we disappear in the map of the world, this platform should be everybody’s business, any amount is important and can contribute to our education, we must now enforce the law, and we must not allow people to lead us to disaster as there is no immunity for people in disaster prone areas.”
Mohamed Abchir, Deputy Country Director UNDP in his statement, said that over the past five years, he has seen much disaster and last year two thousand people were affected by flood, and that prevention cost less than response after the disaster.
He said that there are two types of disasters, one is natural which deals with rain which, he said, “we cannot control and the vulnerability and this include deforestation “and this is a big problem in Sierra Leone.
He disclosed that the UNDP is supportive of ONS and the support given to them is fragmented and not well coordinated but that they stand ready to support Sierra Leone in disaster management.
Citing some for the challenges, the Deputy Director said that there is lack of comprehensive disaster, lack of capacity building at both national and local levels, as there is need to make sure that the country is ready for disaster management.
Mary Mye- Kamara, Director Disaster Management at ONS, said that the priority point for disaster is water crisis that is the way we have been able to handle water in the country. Identifying access and monitoring risk to enhance early warning.
The DRR platform is a nationally owned and led forum for advocacy, coordination, analysis and advice on DRR, it also seeks to build a sense of national, cross-sectoral ownership in the DRR process through coordinated leadership. .
By Betty Milton