September 11, 2017 By Mohamed Massaquoi
A new report on disaster risk management conducted by the World Bank has predicted that the country is still vulnerable to high risk of another landslide if certain mechanisms are not put in place by the government to mitigate disaster incidents in the country.
The global institution had, six months ago, dispatched a team to the country to carry out disaster risk assessment and management in Freetown, Bo and Makeni. A comprehensive report of that assessment visit was on Friday, 8 September, presented to President Ernest Bai Koroma, highlighting key areas for swift government intervention.
The report also examined the devastating 14 August, 2017 mudslide and flooding in the capital, assessing the devastation as well as recovery needs of the country, including human, housing and commercial losses, social protection, health and education, water and sanitation.
The Bank’s Country Director, Henry Kerali, said the report highlights the risks of landslide and flooding as well as their impact on bridges and other infrastructure, adding that damage caused by the disaster amounted to US$30 million while the recovery process might require a whooping US$82 million.
Mr. Kerali pointed out that some areas within the city are still vulnerable to landslide and that the report succinctly indicates that sixty percent of the Western Area forest reserve has been destroyed, thus an urgent need for afforestation to mitigate future disaster.
The World Bank Country Director with oversight over Sierra Leone, Liberia and Ghana did not specifically point out potential landslide areas but noted that government has promised to take appropriate action.
“What is now urgently needed is to construct bridges that were eroded, restoration of the roads, water, and health facilities which account for 35 million dollars. The technical team used drone to carryout technical analysis of the situation and it was clearly stated that the heavy rains softened the ground and there was an earthquake before the landslide which triggered the hills to come down,” he said.
The Bank’s Country Manager, Parminder Brar, said World Bank has given enormous support to the government of Sierra Leone especially in the areas of mining, agriculture, tourism, among others, adding that the first project on mining amounted to US$20 million to help conduct a nationwide Air survey to gather data on the country’s mineral potential.
“The second is the tourism project; a lot have been done but to put in place tourism infrastructure but it is expensive to come to Sierra Leone and tourism sites must be improved upon.
“Land management is also another project the bank will be working on because the president has launched the land policy and we are now looking forward for its implementation and more importantly the Freetown Urban Project is another major project we are working at. There is need to improve on the water passage in the city, there is heavy rainfall and solid waste management will be also be address under this project,” Brar concluded.