Sesay FREETOWN (Xinhua) -- The atmosphere of grief
that engulfed Sierra Leone following a devastating mudslide that
hit the capital Freetown on Aug. 14 this year is gradually
giving way to a recovery process.
The day would ever be remembered in
Sierra Leone for it left an indelible print on the minds of
thousands of family members, who lost their loved ones in the
historical mudslides and flooding that killed over one thousand
According to government records,
nearly five hundred people were buried at Waterloo in the
outskirt of the Sierra Leone capital of Freetown.
The disaster affected several
communities across Freetown, but foremost among them were
Mortomeh at Mount Sugar Loaf in the Regent Community where it is
believed hundreds are still left buried under the rubble and
Kaningo in the Lumley community, where hundreds were swept away
by the flooding.
One month after the disaster occurred,
government and development partners are now focused on a massive
recovery process. Temporary housing facilities have been
provided at Old Skool in the Regent community, Juba Military
Barracks and Kaningo community, for affected victims of the
Mohamed Suma, a private security
guard, is one of the lucky people who survived the dreadful
mudslide that buried hundreds at Mortomeh. He lost eight of his
family members including his seven years old daughter, Memunatu
Suma. Mohamed is temporarily housed at Old Skool. He reflected
on the fateful day and how he survived.
“I can’t imagine how it happens. I
used to wake up early every morning. On that fateful day, I
was standing outside smoking cigarette when I heard a loud
roar. I saw the mountain rolling down towards the valley. I
could not help but immediately ran away,” he narrated.
“I could not make an attempt to save
my family because it was too late for me,” he said.
However, being temporarily housed
under a tent at Old Skool, Mohamed seems to be overcoming
the grief of losing his family to the mudslide. “I have to
cope because it has been done. I cannot do anything else but
to endure the pain,” he said.
At the temporal housing facilities
provided by the government and partners, affected victims are
served with meals twice per day while medical and water
facilities are also available. The recovery process is being led
by the Office of National Security (ONS).
Languba Keili is the communication
leader at ONS. He told Xinhua that 50 tents have been built at
Juba Barracks, one for each household, while at Old Skool, more
tents, each able to house over two households, were built.
According to him, all affected victims
would benefit from several humanitarian packages while
temporarily being housed.
“The first package is the Humanitarian
Cash Transfer which all affected persons will receive in a
three-month installment for their immediate needs. We are
starting this September with the sum of Le870, 000 (over 100
U.S. dollars) and in October Le217, 500, and Le217, 500 in
November for every household,” he said.
He continued that the second part
would be meant to provide food for all affected persons, who
choose to find their own accommodations, starting from this
September with a package of food supply for household, while
cash transfer of Le783, 000 would take place in October, plus
Le783, 000 in November.
“All payment will be made through
Airtel money transfer and they will receive new sim cards
and those who do not have phones will be provided with one
reasonable phone by a mobile company,” he said.
While affected victims are temporarily
housed in the three camps, government has secured a large
portion of land at Mile 6 in the outskirt of Freetown, to
construct permanent structures for the victims.
Currently, three local construction
companies including Parvifort, Jento Group of Companies and
Secon Sierra Leone Limited, are constructing fifty permanent
structures for victims at Mile 6. They are doing so as part of
their own contribution towards the recovery process.
Vice President of the Republic of
Sierra Leone,Victor Bockarie Foh, is in charge of all donations
made by individuals, organizations and other development
partners. Having received hundreds of millions of U.S. dollars
as humanitarian aid, he said the money would be used to
construct permanent structures for all affected victims at Mile
While the disaster left hundreds of
children orphaned, many are being housed at the Catholic Don
Bosco Fambul facility in Freetown where they are being cared
for. Many have started attending schools as the academic year
started in September 11, 2017. They are provided with
scholarships by government, individuals and other development
With the country poised to prevent
future disaster of like nature, the government is also planning
to relocate people from disaster prone communities including the
hill side and seaside communities respectively.
The land which has been earmarked at
Mile 6 would not only cater for the August 14 disaster, but also
people currently living in disaster prone communities.
Although the August disaster left
indelible print on the minds of many Sierra Leoneans, especially
those directly affected, the government is now fighting tooth
and nail to bring solace to the entire nation.