Climate Change Director predicts ‘more calamities’


- ‘if right measures are not taken’

September 21, 2015 By Hassan Gbassay Koroma 

Country Director of the Climate Change Forum Network has said Sierra Leone would experience more natural disasters like drought, thunderstorm and lightening if the government failed to take robust actions to address agents of climate change in the country.

Amara S. Kanu was speaking in an interview last Thursday, 17 September at the national stadium, where over 3000 displaced persons are taking shelter after heavy rains in Freetown on Wednesday, 16 September caused many residential areas to flood.

Official report says seven persons died, including three children, as torrential rains overwhelmed the city. Also, properties worth millions of Leones were washed away in the deluge, with the military and the police deployed to lead rescue efforts.

Kanu said the flash flooding was caused by the rise in the sea level, while he blamed poor drainage system as reason for the flood water taking over the city.

He said a remedy to preventing future calamities is a change of attitude and that government should devise peaceful ways to sensitise people on things they should not do to affect climate change in the country.

According to Kanu, the government has neglected environmental issues for a long time, and urged them to demonstrate a strong will by not allowing people to live in communities that are prone to natural disaster.

Minister of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs, Alhaji Moijueh Kaikai, who is in charge of relief efforts by the government, said some 2000 mattresses had been distributed to more than 3000 victims at the national stadium, adding that the government would find a way to relocate the victims to safe places instead of allowing them to return to the slum areas.

Food and water are also distributed to the flood victims on a daily basis, according to Mr. Kaikai, noting that some 3,871 people have registered as at last Thursday. He said there are 39 pregnant women, 90 lactating mothers, 80 zero-to-six months old babies, 73 seven months to two-year-old babies, 124 two-to-five years old children, 400 six-to-seventeen-year-old children, 1,670 adults, while 1,458 are uncategorised.

Development organisations and private individuals, including a WhatsApp group called ‘Smoothies and Juices’, have donated assorted food and non-food items to the displaced persons, including used clothing and toiletries.

Speaking during the donation, Danny Strasser-Williams said the group was created to have fun but members decided to contribute to support the victims as part of efforts to bring succour to them.

Meanwhile, President Ernest Bai Koroma visited the displaced last Thursday and opined that the flooding was unexpected and that victims should be thankful to God that it happened during the day as the casualty figures would have doubled if it had occurred at night.

He said government is not happy that the flood victims are sheltering at the national stadium, but they have no alternative accommodation for them at present. He promised concrete measures would be taken to provide them with a better life.

“We are going to make sure that you people do not return back to those slums. As a government we are going to find you a better and healthy place to relocate you so that such disaster will never meet you again,” promised Mr. Koroma. “We want anybody to resist leaving those slums in the name of ‘you are born there and you are going to die there’.”

However, the President did not state any specific timeframe the displaced persons will be relocated to more dignified and safe houses.