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ReliefWeb - Updates on Sierra Leone

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    Source: Government of the People's Republic of China
    Country: China, Sierra Leone

    On August 29th, 2017, the Chinese Ambassador to Sierra Leone WU Peng handed over USD $100,000 from the Red Cross Society of China to Sierra Leone Red Cross Society (SLRCS) as a disaster relief fund for victims of the August 14th tragic mudslide and flooding devastation.

    Handing over the donation, Ambassador WU Peng said the August 14th tragic event, which caused 500 death, hundreds missing and thousands displaced, was a terrible natural disaster. He noted that the Chinese side acted quickly in supporting the Sierra Leone government and people to deal with the aftermath of the disaster.

    Ambassador WU Peng pointed out, President Xi Jinping sent his personal condolence messages to President Ernest Bai Koroma, and on the August 16th the Chinese government announced to provide USD $ 1 million emergency humanitarian cash aid to the government of Sierra Leone in the relief efforts. The Chinese medical experts and companies helped in the recovery process at the mudslide and flooding sites across the various affected communities at the first time, with the Chinese community in Sierra Leone also providing USD $88,860 plus Le 102 million and other relief items for the victims.

    Ambassador WU highlighted that, considering the important role SLRCS has played in the disaster relief process, the Chinese Red Cross Society decided to provide the USD $100,000 for their relief efforts. He also remarked that, China regards Sierra Leoneans as truly brothers and that China would do all within its capacity to help the victims.

    Mrs. Augusta Foday-Kalone, Director of Strategic Partnership, International Relations and Programme Support of SLRCS, thanked the government and people of China for their condolence messages and kind support. She said China and Sierra Leone are so close and when Ebola broke out, China led the international community in providing support and also during the current disaster China was again leading the relief efforts. This she said showed that China is always with Sierra Leone in times of difficult moments. She assured Ambassador WU that SLRCS would make good use of the fund and give a feedback to the Embassy about their relief support.

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    Source: Famine Early Warning System Network
    Country: Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad, Côte d'Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Togo

    Le Réseau de systèmes d’alerte précoce contre la famine (FEWS NET) surveille les tendances des prix des aliments de base dans les pays vulnérables à l'insécurité alimentaire. Pour chaque pays et chaque région couvert par FEWS NET, le Bulletin des prix fournit un ensemble de graphiques indiquant les prix mensuels de l’année commerciale en cours pour certains centres urbains, et permettant à l’utilisateur de comparer les tendances actuelles à la fois aux moyennes quinquennales, qui indiquent les tendances saisonnières, et aux prix de l'année précédente.

    L'Afrique de l’Ouest peut être divisée en trois zones agro-écologiques ou en trois bassins commerciaux (bassins de l’ouest, bassin du centre, bassin de l’est). Les deux sont importants pour l'interprétation du comportement et de la dynamique du marché.

    Les trois principales zones agro-écologiques incluent la zone Sahélienne, la zone Soudanaise et la zone Côtière où la production et la consommation peuvent être facilement classifiées. (1) Dans la zone Sahélienne, le mil constitue le principal produit alimentaire cultivé et consommé en particulier dans les zones rurales et de plus en plus par certaines populations qui y ont accès en milieux urbains. Des exceptions sont faites pour le Cap Vert où le maïs et le riz sont les produits les plus importants, la Mauritanie où le blé et le sorgho et le Sénégal où le riz constituent des aliments de base. Les principaux produits de substitution dans le Sahel sont le sorgho, le riz, et la farine de manioc (Gari), avec les deux derniers en période de crise. (2) Dans la zone Soudanienne (le sud du Tchad, le centre du Nigéria, du Bénin, du Ghana, du Togo, de la Côte d'Ivoire, le sud du Burkina Faso, du Mali, du Sénégal, la Guinée Bissau, la Serra Leone, le Libéria) le maïs et le sorgho constituent les principales céréales consommées par la majorité de la population. Suivent après le riz et les tubercules particulièrement le manioc et l’igname. (3) Dans la zone côtière, avec deux saisons de pluie, l’igname et le maïs constituent les principaux produits alimentaires. Ils sont complétés par le niébé, qui est une source très significative de protéines.

    Les trois bassins commerciaux sont simplement connus sous les noms de bassin Ouest, Centre, et Est. En plus du mouvement du sud vers le nord des produits, les flux de certaines céréales se font aussi horizontalement. (1) Le bassin Ouest comprend la Mauritanie, le Sénégal, l’ouest du Mali, la Sierra Leone, la Guinée, le Libéria, et la Gambie où le riz est le plus commercialisé. (2) Le bassin central se compose de la Côte d'Ivoire, le centre et l’est du Mali, le Burkina Faso, le Ghana, et le Togo où le maïs est généralement commercialisé. (3) Le bassin Est se rapporte au Niger, Nigéria, Tchad, et Bénin où le millet est le plus fréquemment commercialisé. Ces trois bassins commerciaux sont distingués sur la carte ci-dessus.

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    Source: UN Children's Fund
    Country: Sierra Leone


    The second phase of the response focused on supporting the recovery of victims is now underway. Following the 14 August floods and landslides, the displaced victims have been given the option to be housed in communities or be voluntary relocated to a more permanent shelter solution. Two sites have been selected for voluntary relocation: the Old Skool compound in Hill Station and Juba barracks in Lumley. Options are also being considered for humanitarian cash transfers to support the affected households that opt to remain within their communities.

    Over the weekend, UNICEF supported the Office of National Security and partners in establishing the shelter for the displaced landslide and flood victims at the Old Skool site. With DFID funds, UNICEF established 14 large tents, water supply, washing areas and toilets at Old Skool. UNICEF is also supporting the establishment of a Child Friendly Space and Protection Desk and provision of non-food items to the families. Approximately 30 children accompanied by their mothers and caregivers have already moved to the Old Skool site. It is expected that additional people will be relocated over the holiday weekend.

    UNICEF continued supporting the affected communities at the temporary displacement centres in Regent, Kaningo and Pentagon through provision and supply of WASH services, as well as supporting affected children, including provision of psychosocial support and identification of child protection concerns. UNICEF also continued to support Don Bosco through the provision of essential supplies for 204 children and their mothers who lost their homes and are being temporarily housed there.

    In the meantime, the heavy rains are continuing in Freetown and the districts. Over the weekend, additional floods were reported. UNICEF is coordinating with its field offices and partners to assess the damages and needs.

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    Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
    Country: Sierra Leone

    This update is produced by the UNDAC team in collaboration with the UN Resident Coordinator’s Office in Sierra Leone, liaising with the Office of National Security and humanitarian partners.

    Situation overview

    Officials in Guinea have confirmed earlier this week that 19 bodies were found at sea and on the shores of Conakry. They are almost certain to be related to the landslide on the 14 August. They have been buried in Conakry in presence of Sierra Leone Embassy staff. The total number of confirmed deaths is slightly above 500 and the number of missing persons at 810 (although many of those are likely to be among the 500 deaths and unidentified).

    The most vulnerable areas are still Regent and Kamayama, as directly affected by the landslide. However the focus should also shift to other affected areas such Culvert where standard of shelter for displaced people is very low and this population should be considered as a priority. Those families more recently affected by flash floods in Kroo Bay have not received assistance so far. The voluntary relocation of IDPs has started to Old Skool at Hill station following the verified registry of affected households. Criteria for the relocation include that host family shelter options must be proven as unviable opportunities. Secondly, individuals discharged from hospitals and clinics are also considered a priority.

    As of 31 August, 1,616 households (93 percent) have been verified. The results show that a total of 5,951 people reported being affected by the mudslide and floods, of which 969 are children under the age of five and 393 are pregnant and nursing women. Disabled people numbered 60, and persons with chronic illness only amounted to 12. Overall, less than half of the heads of household (42 percent) have returned to their livelihood activity following the disaster. Half of affected households would like to be relocated to a rented place in Freetown, over one-quarter (28 percent) would like to reside in a shelter and 12 percent would like to move to a rented place outside of Freetown. Although a significant majority of households do not want to return to their dwelling, the largest number of respondents (3 percent) that expressed desire to return home were located in Regent.

    Government officials and partners are also actively preparing for the beginning of the school year. A number of schools need a complete clean up and rehabilitation; several hundreds of school children directly affected by the disaster need uniforms, books and stationary as well as support for school fees.
    The World Bank is leading a Damage and Loss Assessment (DaLA) initiative in cooperation with UNCT, GoSL, Geologist and Engineers and private sector operators. The assessment is looking at Infrastructure, social sectors, productive sectors and cross-cutting issues hereunder environment and risk analysis.

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    Source: Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation
    Country: Sierra Leone

    On August 14, 2017, the capital city of Sierra Leone, Freetown, suffered a flooding and mudslide, causing a part of Mount Sugarloaf, a mountain in the suburban district of Regent to collapse. The disaster is considered to have affected the Regent district most, with another twelve settlements in the two districts of Western Area Rural and Western Area Urban. To exacerbate problems even further, Freetown, a city densely populated by over 1.2 million, lies at or below sea level with heavily forested mountain ranges flanking it, causing it to experience increased rainfall—41 inches of rainfall leading up to the mudslides since July 1, tripling the area’s seasonal average; and moreover, the city suffers from long-term issues of poor urban development programs and deforestation.
    Furthermore, the city’s drainage channels are often clogged because of garbage dumping due to insufficient sanitation services in many areas, most namely underserved and underdeveloped impoverished communities.

    Since the Ebola outbreak in 2014, the Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation has engaged in humanitarian aid and development in the country, allowing the organization to already have a foothold, an entry point, to initiate immediate relief operations, mobilizing local volunteers quickly and efficiently for response. Additionally, through the collaboration of local partners working in Sierra Leone, Tzu Chi has been able to implement its various relief, recovery, and development programs. Tzu Chi’s local partners in Sierra Leone,
    Caritas Freetown and the Healey International Relief Foundation, worked with the Department of Health to provide medical services to five flood-affected areas, providing medical services during outreaches to 1,328 people as of the end of August. Tzu Chi volunteers helped to provide WASH education to patients and local residents.

    In response to the floods and mudslide, the Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation has completed its needs assessment and first round of relief. From the 19 th to the 26 th of August, local Tzu Chi volunteers in Freetown and Sierra Leone—totaling 325 volunteers mobilized and currently operational on the ground—has provided relief in the forms of food and non-food items to residents in Regent, Clive Town, and Lumley. In Regent, 32,000 individuals received hot meals; in Clive Town, 21,604 received hot meals; and in Lumley, 5,605 benefited from the food and non-food item distributions. An additional 8,000 eco-blankets are being shipped via air cargo and ocean freight for future food and non-food item distributions.

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    Source: Famine Early Warning System Network
    Country: Afghanistan, Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad, Côte d'Ivoire, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Guinea, Haiti, Honduras, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Mali, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Sudan, Togo, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Uzbekistan, World, Yemen

    Heavy rains cause flooding and damages in western Sahel, Uganda, and Sudan

    Africa Weather Hazards

    1. Locally heavy rainfall caused flooding in several states in Sudan last week.
      Although rainfall is expected to decrease throughout the region in early September, saturated ground conditions and elevated river levels sustain the risk for additional flooding.

    2. Despite rain in early August, poor rainfall across parts of Eritrea, Ethiopia, Djibouti, and western Somalia since early July have led to seasonal moisture deficits.

    3. Since early August, above-average rainfall has caused flooding. Rainfall in September may trigger additional flooding throughout parts of Senegal, The Gambia,
      Guinea-Bissau, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

    4. Torrentially heavy rainfall triggered floods, landslides and damages to infrastructure in northern Uganda last week.
      Additional rainfall forecast may cause more flooding in the region during the next week.

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    Source: Concern Worldwide
    Country: Sierra Leone

    Heavy rains in Freetown, Sierra Leone, caused mudslides that killed nearly 500 people and displaced thousands. Approximately 600 people are still unaccounted for. Concern’s distribution teams have been activated and are delivering essential supplies to some of the most affected communities.

    Coping with disaster

    The area of Regent suffered the most damage – after a section of Sugarloaf Mountain collapsed – but other areas of Freetown have also been struggling with the effects of the continuous rains. Many drainage canals were filled with trash before the rains and couldn’t cope with the sudden influx of water. Surrounding neighborhoods quickly flooded.

    Concern has worked in Sierra Leone since 1996 and has over 150 staff in the country. After the mudslides, we immediately began conducting assessments in affected communities. We’re also working as part of a consortium of aid agencies collaborating with the government to address immediate needs.

    Concern has distributed hygiene kits to 100 families living in Freetown’s Culvert community, which was affected by floods that contaminated water sources and filled homes with dirty water.

    “These people were badly impacted,” says Anne Bauby, Concern’s WASH Programme Manager for Sierra Leone. “The flooding destroyed homes and washed away all of people’s belongings.”

    Preventing disease

    Culvert is a poor community in the eastern section of Freetown. The neighborhood is crowded with shacks and small homes made from scrap metal and other materials. After floodwaters swept through the area, there were fears that disease would soon follow. Anne Bauby explained, “Right now, Culvert doesn’t have good sources of clean water. People are still using contaminated wells, or they collect the rainwater that pools on top of their roofs.”

    Culvert was a “hotspot” during the cholera outbreak that struck Freetown in 2012 due to heavy rains and poor sanitation. The epidemic infected more than 19,000 people and killed some 300. Many fear that history could repeat itself given the current conditions.

    Hygiene kits are critical to preventing this. The kits include jerry cans and water purification tablets so water can be fetched, safely treated at home, and stored. They also include buckets, bleach, and soap so families can practice healthy hygiene habits.

    Concern's Freetown response

    Concern is providing clean water to communities in need, trucking in thousands of gallons of water daily to the affected neighborhoods of Kamayama and Kaningo, as well as providing hygiene kits. When the situation stabilizes, Concern will build eight water towers that will provide these communities consistent access to clean water for years to come. We’re also working as part of a consortium with partner agencies to continually assess and respond to the immediate needs of affected communities across Freetown.

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    Source: UN High Commissioner for Refugees
    Country: Angola, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Kenya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, Yemen, Zimbabwe

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    Source: World Health Organization
    Country: Cabo Verde, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Mali, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Uganda


    This weekly bulletin focuses on selected acute public health emergencies occurring in the WHO African Region. The WHO Health Emergencies Programme is currently monitoring 45 events in the region. This week, two new events have been reported: dengue fever in Mali and Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever in Uganda. This week’s edition also covers key ongoing events, including:

    • Malaria in Cabo Verde

    • Humanitarian crisis (refugee) in Uganda

    •Humanitarian crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

    •Floods/mudslide in Sierra Leone

    •Landslide in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

    For each of these events, a brief description followed by public health measures implemented and an interpretation of the situation is provided.

    A table is provided at the end of the bulletin with information on all new and ongoing public health events currently being monitored in the region, as well as events that have recently been closed. Major challenges include:

    •The humanitarian assistance to over 900 000 internally displaced persons in the conflict-affected Kasai region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo remains grossly inadequate.

    •The unprecedented influx of refugees and asylum seekers to Uganda continues to constrain local and national capacity and infrastructures, and in particular, the healthcare systems.

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    Source: Governance and Social Development Resource Centre
    Country: Mozambique, Nepal, Sierra Leone, World

    Edward Laws
    University of Birmingham

    What does recent literature tell us about lessons for donors in supporting elections in post-conflict developing countries when the precedent for a peaceful transition of power is either not well entrenched, or non-existent?

    1. Overview

    In post-conflict environments, the international community has an important role to play in supporting the successful planning, delivery and embedding of elections within a wider context of support to political systems and democratisation. This rapid review provides an overview of lessons for donors in the field of electoral assistance in post-conflict societies in recent academic, policy and grey literature. Although welltimed elections can contribute to conflict resolution and help to consolidate a peace agreement or power-sharing deal between elites, they also have the potential to re-ignite hostilities. The evidence indicates that the content and inclusiveness of pre-election dialogue between former combatants; the timing and sequencing of elections; the strength of electoral and security institutions; the choice of electoral system; and the independence and conduct of the electoral administration and observers are key variables. The following sections of this report deal with each in turn, followed by three country case studies illustrating how some of these factors have played out in recent post-conflict elections in Mozambique, Sierra Leone, and Nepal.

    Key findings

    • In pre-election dialogue and negotiation, the importance of quickly securing a peace agreement has to be balanced with the need to ensure the talks are as comprehensive and inclusive as possible, in order to ensure smooth progress further down the line

    • The impact of early elections on post-conflict stability is the subject of sharp debate. While some argue that early elections facilitate peace agreements, hasten democratisation, and ensure postconflict stability, others suggest that they undermine genuine democracy and spark a renewal in fighting.

    • Authors also disagree on the proper sequencing of post-conflict elections. Some argue that national elections should be carried out first on the grounds that they have a higher profile than sub-national elections and are more likely to attract international support. Others recommend in starting at the sub-national level to enable political parties time to organise themselves, build up a local support base, and gain political experience.

    • The risk of elections resulting in tensions or renewed conflict is much greater in the absence of strong electoral and state institutions.

    • The choice of electoral system is an important factor in the success or failure of post-conflict elections. Whilst there is no outright consensus on the most appropriate system for post-conflict environments, elections conducted under the auspices of the United Nations have almost always favoured proportional representation.

    • There is a broad agreement that independent, non-partisan and permanent electoral management bodies represent best practice in terms of electoral administration in post-conflict environments.

    • The presence of international observers can provide a conducive environment for independent, free and fair elections. However, it is better for international observers to refuse to participate than to be complicit in an observation process that tells less than the full truth about an election.

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    Source: Government of Sierra Leone, World Health Organization, UN Children's Fund, GAVI Alliance
    Country: Sierra Leone

    More than 1 million doses of Gavi-funded cholera vaccines heading to Sierra Leone after severe flooding and landslides

    FREETOWN, 5 September 2017– Half a million people in Sierra Leone will be able to access the life-saving cholera vaccine within weeks, the country’s Ministry of Health and Sanitation announced today.

    The vaccines will be received from the Gavi-funded global stockpile and will target areas particularly affected by August’s floods and deadly landslide, which resulted in over 500 confirmed deaths. Hundreds more people were reported missing in the wake of the disaster, according to the Office of National Security, while thousands were displaced from their homes.

    “Cholera is a devastating disease which spreads quickly and kills fast, and risks can increase after severe flooding,” said Dr. Brima Kargbo, Chief Medical Officer at the Ministry of Health and Sanitation. “The oral cholera vaccine is an important tool to better protect the country and affected communities against the disease, which will ultimately save lives.”

    Two rounds of vaccination are planned to run from September and will be delivered in 25 affected communities by the Government of Sierra Leone with support from Gavi Alliance, the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, the UK Government and other health partners.

    “The devastating floods and landslides which ravaged Sierra Leone throughout August have left the country dangerously vulnerable to water-borne disease outbreaks,” said Dr. Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi Alliance. “Access to safe water and sanitation is limited, and the public health system, still recovering after the 2014 Ebola outbreak, is stretched. These lifesaving vaccines, alongside urgent support to improve safe water and sanitation, have the potential to prevent a cholera outbreak before it has the chance to bring more misery to a country that has already suffered enough.”

    The decision to send cholera vaccines from the global stockpile was taken quickly on 31th August by the International Coordinating Group (ICG) for Vaccine Provision following the deployment of a WHO specialist to the country. The full quantity of the vaccine (1,036,300 doses for two rounds) is set to arrive in Freetown on 7th September through UNICEF’s global Supply Division.

    WHO recommends that vaccination against cholera be considered in emergencies and other high-risk scenarios where there are increased threats of outbreaks, and when combined with standard prevention and control measures for the disease. These measures include readiness to provide adequate testing and treatment, steps to ensure access to safe water and sanitation, and community mobilization to engage the public in preventing infection.

    Sierra Leone’s last major cholera outbreak, in 2012, killed 392 people and infected more than 25,000 others.

    Gavi, WHO, UNICEF and partners are working with the Ministry of Health and Sanitation to help plan and implement the campaign, which will make the vaccine available free-of-cost to disaster-affected populations, while supporting ongoing cholera prevention and preparedness.

    Notes to editors

    About Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance

    Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance is a public-private partnership committed to saving children's lives and protecting people's health by increasing equitable use of vaccines in lower-income countries. The Vaccine Alliance brings together developing country and donor governments, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, the World Bank, the vaccine industry, technical agencies, civil society, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and other private sector partners. Gavi uses innovative finance mechanisms, including co-financing by recipient countries, to secure sustainable funding and adequate supply of quality vaccines. Since 2000, Gavi has contributed to the immunisation of nearly 580 million children and the prevention of approximately 8 million future deaths. Learn more at and connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

    About WHO

    The World Health Organization (WHO) is building a better future for people everywhere. Health lays the foundation for vibrant and productive communities, stronger economies, safer nations and a better world. As the lead health authority within the United Nations (UN) system, we help ensure the safety of the air we breathe, the food we eat, the water we drink and the medicines and vaccines that treat and protect us. The Organization aims to provide every child, woman and man with the best chance to lead a healthier, longer life. For more information about WHO visit or Facebook and Twitter (@WHOSierraLeone)

    About UNICEF

    UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: or follow UNICEF on Facebook and Twitter.


    At the Ministry of Health and Sanitation

    Harold Thomas
    Tel: +232 76 602 460

    Kadrie Koroma
    Tel: +23276762962

    At WHO

    In Freetown

    Laura Keenan
    Tel: +232 786 33952

    In Geneva

    Christian Lindmeier
    Tel: +41 22 791 1948; +41 79 500 6552


    Issa Davies
    Tel: +232 76601310

    At Gavi

    James Fulker
    Tel: +41 22 909 2926; +41 79 429 55 05

    Fred Tissandier
    Tel: +41 22 909 2968; +41 79 300 8253

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    Source: The Conversation
    Country: Sierra Leone

    The ConversationJoseph Macarthy, Lecturer, Njala University

    Disclosure statement: Joseph Macarthy works for the Sierra Leone Urban Research Centre (SLURC). SLURC was established with funding by Comic Relief and with a matching fund from the DFID. They also work in partnership with a few other organisations including the IIED (on Urban Humanitarian Response), Urban Ark (on Urban Disaster Risks), John Hopkins University (on Future Health Systems Research)

    Sierra Leone is still reeling from the effects of a mudslide that killed nearly 1 000 people, left hundreds missing and rendered thousands homeless.

    After about five hours of heavy rainfall, the mudslide came down Mount Sugar-Loaf and almost wiped out Mortome. This is a relatively new settlement which emerged as a result of the rapid urbanisation of Freetown, Sierra Leone’s capital city. The heavy downpour also caused huge flooding that inundated the city, including areas previously unaffected by heavy rains.

    For the past five years floods have become almost an annual occurrence in Freetown. Whenever they occur, such as the floods in 2015, they overwhelm the capacity of government. They affect nearly the whole city, causing a huge humanitarian crisis.

    Freetown is a coastal city built on wooded hills. Though mudslides are a rare event, this incident was not surprising. Over the past 10 years research papers and civil society organisations have repeatedly warned the government, and individuals who choose to build in unstable areas, that the city faces a serious threat from deforestation on the peninsula.

    As the city pushes up into the mountains, the population pressures are taking a toll on the forest. Trees are being cut down by people who want land for housing and those who cut wood for their daily needs. About 14.7% of dense forest in 1986 was converted to built-up by 2015.

    This increases the risk of mudslides as trees usually prevent run-off and forests hold water. When there is prolonged or intense rainfall in places with no trees, the soil becomes saturated and erodes.

    There have been calls to stop the extension of settlements into the peninsula’s hills and for the government to better manage the city’s development. But the authorities have rarely taken steps to address this. Action ahead of rains is occasionally taken, but this is done at a household level. It consists of measures such as clearing drains, strengthening house foundations, repairing roofs and pruning trees to prevent damage if branches were to fall.

    In response to the recent tragedy, the city’s director of surveys and land, Christian Pratt, pointed out that:

    The laws are there to control development but the attitude of citizens is a serious concern. We have done several sensitisations…we set up a cut off line and brought it to the attention of people but these were not heeded.

    Inaction caused a predictable tragedy. What nobody expected was the scale of damage it caused.

    Contributing factors

    The simple truth is that people are living where they shouldn’t be, in areas that are now vulnerable to both flooding and mudslides.

    Typically, the poor suffer the most whenever there is a disaster in Freetown. This is because they tend to live in high risk areas, such as slopes or coastal slums. In this case, though, well built homes were also affected as they were located in unstable areas.

    There are several reasons why people live in these areas and under these conditions.

    Firstly, most places have developed chaotically. Houses have often been built by powerful or influential individuals without following basic, town and country planning, rules.

    Secondly, there has been a lack of good spatial planning. With limited available land the city should have managed the use of land better. Settlements should have been clearly laid out and provided with services like water and sanitation before houses were built.

    Thirdly, there has been a surge in demand for home ownership combined with a widespread practice of public land grabs by both the poor and the rich.

    Fourthly, as seen above, warnings about the environmental dangers were disregarded.

    Freetown is already home to 40% of the country’s urban population. The city’s population was over one million in 2015 and is expected to increase by 3-5% in its various wards.

    Unless urban planning is taken seriously there’s a risk that more locations could experience similar events, potentially more devastating than this one.

    Several steps are needed urgently. Legislation in settlement planning and land use must be reviewed and improved. Instead of focusing on evictions, relocation and resettlement, political action should respond to the reasons people live in risky areas.

    Finally, the relevant government bodies need skills training in disaster risk reduction and land use planning.

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    Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation
    Country: Sierra Leone

    By Inna Lazareva

    YAOUNDE, Sept 5 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Experience gained taming West Africa's Ebola outbreak is helping Sierra Leone deal with its recent mudslide disaster, but urgent action is needed to prevent future catastrophes, experts say.

    As more bodies are unearthed after the mid-August mountain collapse in Regent on the outskirts of the capital Freetown, thousands of people who lost their homes require emergency accommodation and longer-term help to recover, aid workers say.

    "People are outside, still waiting for shelter, for proper housing - and meanwhile it's still raining heavily in Freetown," said Fatoumata Nafo-Traoré, Africa director at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), adding that affected families were "desperate".

    "Seeing the community which is only just recovering from the Ebola outbreak that claimed 4,000 lives - and it's the same community now losing thousands of people... is really heart-breaking," she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation from Freetown.

    The Aug. 14 mudslide on Mount Sugar Loaf killed an estimated 500 people, while hundreds more are still missing, according to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.


    Humanitarian workers and others are drawing on their experiences of dealing with the 2014-2016 Ebola crisis to respond to the mudslide disaster, Nafo-Traoré said.

    More than 100 Sierra Leone Red Cross volunteers were on the frontline of the mudslide response, carrying out search and rescue operations. Many are the same people who gave community assistance in the Ebola outbreak, the IFRC said in a statement.

    "They were trained in providing psychological support and promoting hygiene and sanitation," said Nafo-Traoré - skills that are now being used to aid mudslide survivors.

    After the Ebola outbreak, the IFRC helped set up warehouses with emergency stocks such as blankets and medical supplies that are "critical for any response", said Nafo-Traoré, adding that financial systems are also in place to ensure accountability.

    "All these things help people to respond on time," she said.


    But aid groups and environmentalists say steps must be taken now to prevent devastating and costly disasters in the future.

    Climate change likely played a role in the Sierra Leone mudslide as warmer air can hold more moisture, increasing rainfall - but human factors are also to blame, said Richard A. Matthew, professor of international and environmental politics at the University of California, Irvine.

    "The area received three times its normal rainfall in July, creating a lot of mud in the hills," he said by email.

    Mud and rain are "a deadly combination" in a hilly city where people build in risky areas. Mud flows fast, and being at least twice as heavy as water, it can overwhelm neighbourhoods "in a matter of minutes", he added.

    Deforestation, alongside unplanned and unregulated construction, makes the problem worse, transforming a natural hazard into a flooding and mudslide disaster, he noted.

    "People do have the opportunity to increase or reduce vulnerability and hence the damage suffered during an event," he said.

    Lansana Gberie, an academic and journalist from Sierra Leone, urged the government to stop illegal construction and commission tree planting on deforested slopes, which are more vulnerable to slips. "Otherwise, these things will keep happening and the tragedy will be much worse," he said.


    IFRC's Nafo-Traoré warned the Freetown disaster could happen elsewhere in Africa, as seen with a recent landslide in the Democratic Republic of Congo that killed at least 200 people.

    "The (Sierra Leone) government is clear that we need to really do more on recovery and plan for long-term solutions," she said. "Good information (and) good mapping are critical," she said, adding that leadership and coordination are also key.

    Developing plans for safer housing, preventing water-borne diseases and installing a functional early warning system are other important steps to make communities more resilient to shocks, she said.

    Since the Ebola outbreak, the Sierra Leone government has strengthened its efforts to reduce the risk of disasters and manage them better if they do occur, said Sunil Saigal, the U.N. resident coordinator in Freetown.

    "I think the lesson learnt is that you need strong coordination - you need someone who has an overview who can gather the threads, and... make sure the assistance gets out to where it is needed," he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

    Data management - the ability to quickly obtain a sense of the scope of the disaster, how many people affected and what their needs are - is also "crucial", said Saigal.

    Professor Matthew said satellite imagery, drones and locally gathered data and knowledge can help with pulling together relevant information fast, as well as producing high-resolution models of flood and mudslide risk.

    "In a place like Freetown, inexpensive flood-risk mapping co-developed with the community could be very helpful," he said.

    Floods "could be the single most expensive hazard facing humanity this century", he warned. "So we have to focus on accurate, relevant and clear decision-support tools that are cloud-based and accessible to everyone."

    (Reporting by Inna Lazareva; editing by Megan Rowling. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, climate change, resilience, women's rights, trafficking and property rights. Visit

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    Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
    Country: Sierra Leone

    Situation overview

    Three weeks on from the landslide and initial flooding, most pillars are operational and the Office of National Security (ONS) Situation Room collates information from the two temporary shelters sites and six Incident Response Centres (IRCs) daily. The second shelter site, Juba Barracks, is still empty ten days after the initial set-up and the slow pace of construction is worrying.

    The distributions of food and non-food items have reached over 85% of flood and landslide affected people. Cash transfers should now replace in-kind distributions and complete the emergency phase by alleviating basic constraints as well as social and educational issues. There is a need to clearly distinguish the ongoing response efforts from recurrent needs which may arise from localised flash floods.

    The rainy season continues; during the weekend, several areas were flooded and some shelters, as well as the relocation spot at Old Skool had some tents flooded and people moving into buildings. Concern was raised that tents are inadequate given the current rainy season, call for alternatives to tents as well as long-term housing solutions.

    Chlorination, distribution of aquatabs and water trucking remains key priorities to prevent epidemics in the affected areas. Improving the daily reporting rate of health facilities should also be highlighted.

    The Ministry of Health and Sanitation, in collaboration with WHO, UNICEF and partners are doing an oral Cholera vaccination prevention campaign. The operational sites for Cholera are identified. The International Coordination Group (ICG) has now approved 1,036,000 doses of Oral Cholera Vaccine (Euvichol) for 518,000 beneficiaries as an additional protective measure in affected communities. Vaccination exercise is expected to start in two weeks.

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    Source: International Organization for Migration
    Country: Sierra Leone


    • IOM distributed Non Food Items (NFIs) to 150 flood affected households in Mountain Cut. This is in addition to 167 NFI kits that had been distributed to flood affected households in Dwazark and Wellington.

    • IOM set up 50 tents, donated by JICA to the Government of Sierra Leone, in Juba Barracks, finalized drainage and set up handwashing stations. Partners installed water tanks, latrines and shower facilities.

    • IOM participated in the site assessment delegation, which comprised of National Commission for Social Action, Office of National Security, Ministry of Health and partners. They assessed Old School, Juba Barrack and flood affected areas.

    Situation Overview

    The floods and subsequent mudslides that occurred on 14 August 2017 have resulted in 500 persons losing their lives and affected a total of 5,951 people (1,616 households), out of which 969 are children under the age of 5. Out of the affected population, 1,616 households have been displaced, 371 households have sought refuge in collective centres such at schools, mosques, churches, community centres and transit sites whereas 905 affected households are being hosted by friends and families. The majority of displaced persons are located in communities of Culvert, Dwazark, Juba, Kamayama, Kaningo and Regent with severe needs in terms of humanitarian assistance. In addition, 226 affected households are not displaced, but have been affected by the flooding and are in need of assistance. The most vulnerable areas are Regent and Kamayama, as directly affected by the mudslides (Please note that data presented in the aforementioned is based on the verification exercise led by the Government of Sierra Leone and partners as part of the Registration Pillar on 31 August ).

    The Government of Sierra Leone, through the Office of national Security (ONS) is leading the response, with the support of partners. Pillars for Coordination, Health/Burial, Logistics, Social Mobilisation/Communication, Registration, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), Protection/Psychosocial, Food/Nutrition, Security/Safety and Shelter (which includes non-food items (NFI) and camp coordination and camp management (CCCM) have been activated to coordinate the response. In coordination with the Government of Sierra Leone and partners, IOM aims to safeguard the health, security, privacy and dignity of women, men, girls and boys affected by the flood and mudslide in Freetown through the provision of NFIs, Emergency Shelter, CCCM, WASH, enhanced protection, Health Support and Displacement Tracking and Monitoring.

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    Source: Salesian Missions
    Country: Sierra Leone

    (MissionNewswire) Salesian missionaries with Don Bosco Fambul, one of Sierra Leone’s leading child-welfare organizations in Freetown, have been actively responding with relief efforts for those affected by recent flooding that occurred on Aug. 14. Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone, lies between the mountains and the sea. The intense rain caused a mudslide on Mount Sugar Loaf in the Regent District on the outskirts of Freetown. The mudslide occurred at 6 a.m. when most of the community residents were still sleeping—leaving them more vulnerable to the rising waters.

    The Washington Post and other sources on the ground report that upwards of 500 people have died and more than 600 are still missing. More than 3,000 people have been impacted by the flooding with homes washed away and many losing everything. Because Salesian missionaries are living in the communities they serve, they were among the first to respond with shelter, aid and coordination for relief efforts going forward.

    “The situation was total chaos as Sierra Leone is not ready for these emergencies and the government is overwhelmed. There are just a handful of machines to remove the earth and mud so rescue work is done by hand,” says Father Jorge Crisafulli, director of Don Bosco Fambul.

    “As each day passes, we gain a clearer perspective on what is required, but even now it is clear that there is a need for medication, clothing and food. These are the basic necessities for the care of the children in this first phase of the emergency.”

    Don Bosco Fambul has already started to care for children who have lost their families. Right now, the Salesian organization has 260 children in its care who have either lost their families or who have been separated from them and unable to reach them. Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesian of Don Bosco, has sent emergency food aid from Feed My Starving Children to help address the need for food for additional children at the organization.

    Salesian missionaries are also helping other survivors of the flooding. Women and other youth have accessed the program. Don Bosco Fambul will be accommodating 81 mothers with their children who have lost their homes due to the flooding. The government has asked Don Bosco Fambul to accommodate the displaced for two months to allow them to find a permanent solution for the homeless. Salesian missionaries are also helping those who have been injured because of the flooding. One boy who is being cared for by Don Bosco Fambul was so severely injured he had to have his foot amputated.

    Fr. Crisafulli notes that the organization will continue to assess the ongoing situation and determine what relief efforts will be needed in the upcoming weeks and months to help orphaned children and families recover and rebuild from these devastating floods.

    Don Bosco Fambul has been operating in Freetown since 2001, when it launched its work with child soldiers. Today, the organization offers food, clothing, crisis intervention services, shelter, educational opportunities, long-term counseling and family reunification. The organization was on the forefront of efforts to help prevent Ebola in communities throughout Sierra Leone and provide care for children left orphaned by the deadly epidemic. Don Bosco Fambul received Sierra Leone’s Presidential Award in recognition of its contribution in fighting Ebola.

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    Source: Hong Kong Red Cross
    Country: Sierra Leone

    Situation Update

    Continuous heavy rain triggered severe mudslides in the outskirts of Regent and Lumley area of the Sierra Leone capital where thousands of makeshift settlements were home to the city’s poorest communities. According to the government, over 450 people were killed and 600 people reported missing. At least 100 people have been injured. The number of causalities is likely to rise. As the morgues are overflowing with corpses, there is fear of the spread of disease and this devastating disaster will quickly morph into a public health emergency. More than 1,600 families are affected by the devastation with houses destroyed and in need of immediate assistance of shelter, household items as well as water and sanitation facilities. However, damaged roads, power outages and broken communication lines present huge challenges to reach and support the affected communities.

    Hong Kong Red Cross Actions

    Given the severity of the situation, the Hong Kong Red Cross (HKRC) has immediately mobilized HKD 200,000 for immediate relief and is in close contact with the International Red Cross to assess the needs. No appeal has been launched in Hong Kong.

    Red Cross Actions

    The Sierra Leone Red Cross Society (SLRCS) has immediately activated the emergency operation and coordinated its resources for disaster responses. 100 volunteers have been deployed to all affected sites to conduct search and rescue, transportation of dead bodies, first aid to the injured people and psychosocial support to the bereaved families. 15 vehicles including 3 ambulances have been deployed to transfer affected families to evacuation sites and wounded persons to hospitals. Emergency shelter and relief items, such as food, clothing and kitchen sets, are being distributed to displaced families living in temporary evacuation centres to prevent from further deterioration of health and insecurity. Restoring family link (RFL) assistance is provided for people to connect and locate their loved ones affected by this disaster. To reduce the future risk of disaster and support the recovery of affected families, the International Red Cross seeks a total of HKD 37 million globally to support SLRCS in providing humanitarian assistance to some 4,800 people for over 10 months.

    General Enquiry

    Please call 2802-0016, fax to 2802-0017 or email to

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    Source: UN High Commissioner for Refugees
    Country: Canada, Côte d'Ivoire, Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone


    Voluntary repatriation: seven (07) Ivorian families of twenty-five (25) individuals were entered on the departure list. Arrangements are underway to facilitate the departure of these families in safety and dignity during the first fortnight of August.

    30 From May to 31 July 2017, thirty (30) new births were regularized and recorded in the database.

    Candidates did the BEPC exam of which 07 girls and all have passed, a success rate of 100%.

    35 Ivoirians were resettled in Canada, including 10 from Conakry and 25 from Nzérékoré. In total, from January to July 2017, 61 people left for Canada, including one Liberian and 60 Ivorians.

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    Source: Deutsche Welle
    Country: Sierra Leone

    A mudslide devastated the capital, Freetown, three weeks ago. Life is slowly returning to normal, but residents of the areas most affected are still coming to terms with what happened, as Olivia Acland reports.

    In Kamayama, a community in Freetown built on and around steep riverbanks, life looked like it was slowly getting back to normal. Two local football teams were battling it out on a dry mud pitch. A hundred spectators stood by, watching keenly.

    But though this community appeared to be cheerfully getting on with life, many of those who live here are still traumatized by what happened three weeks ago. At around 6 a.m. on August 14, the top of Sugar Loaf Mountain collapsed on to the community below. Mud, rain water and debris went tumbling down the valley and crushed houses in the areas of Kaningo and Kamayama. Between 800 and 1,000 people are thought to have died and 7,000 were displaced. Bodies are still buried deep under the mud and debris.


    At the football match, spectator Fesellie Eveh said he still thinks about that morning every day. A resident of Kamayama, he was at home with his mother, taking care of a sister who was ill. "When the rain came, we just heard a sound. People were screaming all around. When we went outside, we just saw something like an ocean, something that we've never seen in this area," Eveh told DW.

    Eveh lived at the top of the mountain. He rushed out to help rescue people, but the masses of water wouldn't let him. "In a twinkle of an eye, we just started seeing bodies coming different ways – parts of people, not complete bodies, foot, hand, head. It was so terrible. We did not have quick help from the government. They came here in the evening. We, the youths from the area, tried to help on our own."

    Eveh said that he lost many friends, including his best friend, Momoh. "We were on the same team, he was my team mate. That morning was so terrible; I never saw a disaster like that. I think about that every day in my life, every move I make. At night I dream that I am in the water," Eveh said.

    Traumatized children

    Around the corner from the football game, a primary school acts as an improvised response center. Aid agencies use it as a base from which to distribute food. Displaced families were sleeping on the classroom floors. Outside the school community volunteer Brima Bangura was leading a group of children in a singing competition. Some of the children had lost their parents in the mudslide. "They have sad minds, they are not happy. So I decided to bring them together to see how they can be happy and make some fun with them so they will forget about the past, about what has happened with their parents," Bangura said.

    A short walk down a stony mud track is the house of community chief Pa Kebbe. He was sitting under a tree, talking to Jariatu Marah.

    Her house used to be at the bottom of the valley, beside the river. Her husband and two children died when a torrent of water surged into their home. Now Jariatu sleeps on the floor of Chief Kebbe's house, along with 25 others. She had a harrowing story to tell: "When I was there inside the water, I called for help. One man passed me a stick and told me to hold it. I held the stick and he drew me from the water. I drank the water by mistake and it was inside my belly. By the time I came out of the water I was unconscious."

    All lost

    She was taken to the hospital where the water was pumped out of her stomach. "When I woke up in the morning, I started asking about my children. They said that two of them had died, along with my husband. Two were saved, Sheka Marah and Aminatta Marah." Her house was destroyed and she had nowhere to go, she told DW.

    Like many others in the Kamayama community, Jariatu Marah still does not know what will happen next. She hopes the government will re-house her in a safer place. Like most people in Sierra Leone, she had kept all her savings in her house. All was lost. Now she has to rely on humanitarian aid and assistance from Chief Kebbe. Residents here have not forgotten that promises made by the authorities after the 2015 floods were never kept. Which is why they now feel very skeptical about the likelihood of getting any assistance soon.

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    Source: Japan International Cooperation Agency
    Country: Japan, Sierra Leone

    18th August, 2017, The Government of Japan through the Japan International Cooperation Agency, JICA, has responded to the unfortunate mudslide disaster that has claimed hundreds of lives in Sierra Leone. JICA commences the implementation of a disaster relief operation that will ensure that relief items such as 100pcs of tents, 6,395pcs of blankets, 1,320pcs of sleeping pads, 163 sheets of plastic sheets, 30 units of water purifiers and 1,500pcs of portable jerry cans are distributed across affected regions of the country.

    On 23rd August, 2017 (at 19:00), the handing over ceremony is scheduled at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

    The Sierra Leonean Government through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation expresses sincere appreciation: “The Government and People of Sierra Leone profoundly appreciates the timely response of the Government of Japan and JICA to our appeal for support in dealing with the effect of the August 14, 2017 Mudslide and Heavy Flooding.”

    The Government of Sierra Leone assured that items would be well distributed: “The Office of National Security in the Office of the President together with other partners and civil society organizations are working tirelessly to rescue and recover victims of the mudslide.”

    The heavy floods affected densely populated communities, especially the West of Freetown and the Western Area Rural District of the capital. An estimated six thousand or more inhabitants were affected.

    The Government of Japan and JICA is committed to assisting the good People of Sierra Leone overcome the effects of the unfortunate disaster and contribute to the overall development of the country.

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