By BRAC Sierra Leone Communications
The residents of Portee and Rokupa Wharf community in the eastern part of Freetown have had to deal with floods and the attendant challenges of the rainy season every year since the establishment of the close-knitted fishing settlement many years ago.
Every year, as the month of July creeps in, the residents of this small riverine community which is home to over 1000 people are fraught with the reality of dealing with floods and rock falls. The effects of such floods is characterized by a complete displacement of families from their homes, sometimes for months before they get any form of resettlement.
But this July paints a different story from what the residents of this community have endured for years, thanks to the intervention of BRAC Sierra Leone’s Emergency Preparedness and Response Programme, under the Building Emergency Preparedness for Resilience project, which has completed the construction of a 98 meters long, 3.3 meter wide and 7 feet high drainage in the community; providing a waterway that empties into the sea.
Funded by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the overarching goal of the project is to strengthen community’s resilience so that they are able to mitigate risks, save lives, protect livelihoods and build back better from disasters and crises.
Before the construction of the new drainage, Mohamed Barrie, a teacher and BRAC’s community disaster volunteers, explained some of the numerous flood related issues the community has had to deal with.
“Most times when heavy rains pour down at night, our houses are flooded and our properties are destroyed, while we are awaken from our sleep by the wailing of our women and children” said Barrie.
According to Barrie, those nights will be sadly remembered for the daunting exercise of moving the properties they can to an upper part of the community for safe keeping. However, most of their property got perished in the process. Barrie also recalled instances where the floods would be carrying away their babies through the gutter before they rush to the rescue.
So, when the heavy rains started pouring this July members of the Portee-Rokupa Wharf community watched with much respite and delight as the deluge of water which hitherto go into their homes to destroy their property, would gracefully run through the new drainage BRAC constructed.
In addition to the drainage, BRAC has supported the community with the installation of a flood early warning system and a rain gauge, and provided disaster management volunteers with equipment comprising of shovels, Wheel barrows and pick axes, for the regular clearing of the drainage to ensure its sustainability and the health of the community. BRAC also supported the community with a 60 meters long and 4 meters wide concrete foot path that connects the Wharf community to the upper areas of Portee.
The residents of the community have showered BRAC with thanks and praises for the life-saving interventions they have made, while assuring BRAC of the diligent use of the drainage and equipment for a better and more sustainable community.