With annual rainfall of 3,600 litres per square metre, natural disasters have plagued the country for years.
The devastating flash flooding and landslides in 2017 were followed by citywide flooding in August this year that resulted in further loss of life. Such disasters illustrate the ongoing issue of waste in drainage systems.
Inefficient drainage systems and poor waste management are also a major public health issue and intensify disasters. Clogged drainages lead to flooding and stagnant water, with vulnerable slums transformed into waterborne epidemic zones carrying diseases like malaria, cholera and typhoid. Mud, waste and overflowing sewage from drains, pits and sewers also enter waterways, causing citywide contamination of Freetown’s water sources.
Historically low levels of investment in disaster mitigation (e.g. hazard mapping) and infrastructure (e.g. drainages) continue to increase the risk posed by destructive, rainfall-related climate events, while rapid urbanisation and deforestation for unplanned housing, profiteering and cooking and burning is also increasing vulnerability to soil erosion, landslides and floods.
As well as continuing to respond to emergencies, Concern Worldwide initiated two projects this year focused on preventative approaches to Freetown’s waste and flooding issues.
With support from the British Government’s international development department (DFID), Concern is working with low-income communities in selected slums and hard-to-reach areas in order to develop effective and scalable solid waste interventions for such locations.
In another project funded by the World Bank, Concern is supporting communities in the construction of approximately 1,000 meters of drainage systems across 10 high flood-risk areas in Freetown. The project will help curb the effect of natural disasters and strengthen community resilience.
With a €1 million budget, these innovative projects can pave the way for a scale-up throughout the city, and provide Concern with critical lessons to facilitate economic recovery, develop resilience and reduce disaster and health risks.
Concern has been working in Sierra Leone since 1996, beginning during the devastating civil war which took place between 1991 and 2002.
Our integrated programming approach aims to tackle all dimensions of poverty, focusing on the overlapping areas of health, education and livelihoods, while maintaining our response to emergencies.