Following the disastrous event of the mudslide and floods in Freetown on 14 August 2017 wherein over 300 people have died, with a possibility of the death toll rising and over two thousand(2000) rendered homeless, and the lives of thousands have been disrupted, CHRDI would like to express our deepest condolences to the bereaved families and may souls of the faithfully departed rest in peace.
The past few years has been extremely bad for the poor and most vulnerable, especially those living in the flood affected areas in Freetown. Over 1 million inhabitants are presently settled in overcrowded areas of the coastal city of Freetown. Loss of Life and Economic devastation are a major development challenge for a country like Sierra Leone battling climate change, corruption and poverty.
One of the most harmful failures of the country’s response to sudden disasters is the delay in aid reaching those most affected. Every hour can mean death or great suffering, especially in poorly-resourced communities in the country. The authorities in Freetown are yet to put out an official statement on the crisis, however, late this afternoon, the Ministry of Information called an emergency press conference to inform the media about their response to the crisis. Sierra Leone has been beset by this problem of heavy rains in August and it is worrying that the authorities are again unprepared to deal with this disaster notwithstanding having being warned of such a disaster by the UN.
However, emergency workers and community volunteers say reaching survivors remains a major challenge. Entire communities remain marooned, living out in the open as their homes have been destroyed, with roads submerged under water or blocked by the mudslide.
Climate change, climate variability and weather events are a threat to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals’ overall target of eliminating poverty and tackling other risk drivers such as unplanned urban development, environmental degradation and gaps in early warnings.
Such disastrous events require a system which ensures that people are risk informed and the strengthening of institutions which manage disaster risk.
Outbreaks of diseases such as dengue fever and cholera, and illnesses like diarrhea and dysentery, are often a threat in the aftermath of floods due to water-logging.
In view of the above, CHRDI believe that it behoves us to bring the following to light and urge the Government of Sierra Leone to take the necessary steps to address them faster and make adequate plans for future occurrences. There are and always will be disasters. The government of Sierra Leone should be prepared and able to act immediately if one occurs. Our hearts go out to the people of Sierra Leone in their time of sorrow.
Note: Campaign for Human Rights and Development International (CHRDI ) is a Rights based social-policy advocacy Organisation. We Draw attention to the responsibility of duty-bearers to uphold human rights, and seek to support rights-holders to claim their rights. CHRDI is in Special Consultative Status to the United Nations Economic and Social Council and accredited to many UN Agencies.
©CHRDI-HUMAN RIGHTS and POLICY BRIEF