A. Situation analysis
Description of the disaster
Freetown, the capital city of Sierra Leone has been experiencing persistent torrential rains since mid-August 2022. The highest recorded incident was on Sunday 28 August 2022, with rains causing associated impacts, including flooding in low-lying areas as well as new episodes of landslides on a low scale. Major roads in the city centre were rendered impassable due to the flood waters, heavily constraining vehicles and pedestrians having to find alternative routes. The city continues to experience more heavy rains which may cause flooding in additional communities and increase the number of affected people.
An update from the Office of National Security (ONS) on 28 August reported flash floods and landslides affected seven communities including Kanikay, Culvert, Kaningo, Tengbeh Town, Looking town, Cassava town, and Brooks field. Houses have been flooded leaving residents trapped in the raging waters and their properties destroyed.
At Looking Town, a landslide covered two houses and some people are reportedly trapped in the rubble. The community managed to remove five people from the rubble. Four (04) of them had already died and the remaining one, a 7-year-old child was rescued alive with serious injury and has been taken to the Rokupa Government Hospital.
At Brook Street, a perimeter fence collapsed and left some people trapped in the makeshift buildings annexed to the fence. The people were later assisted by the Red Cross volunteers and the immediate neighbourhood. Those who sustained injuries were provided first aid services before conveying them to the hospital. Another building collapsed at Cassava farm off Leicester Road but detailed statistics on lives and property destroyed are not yet known. At Mary Street by Circular Road, an electrical pole has fallen due to the torrential rains with damage yet to be reported. Also, vehicular movement was disrupted on Bai Bureh Road, which is the most important route linking Freetown Central to the Eastern part by a tree that fell during the early hours of 28 August. The roadblocks impacted several responders’ speedy presence such as the Sierra Leone Red Cross Society Volunteers and staff, the Fire Force team, and the Major of Freetown team and MSF.
On the impact of the disaster, the joint assessment with NDMA, SLRCS and others humanitarian agencies conducted from 29 August to 7 September reveals a total of 12,903 people (1,817 households) were affected, with 8 deaths, 79 injured, and 4 missing because of flash floods and landslides. Over 21% of the houses flooded by water and 16.4% hit by landslides are inhabitable, and families need rental assistance as immediate support. Also, over 18% of the houses were destroyed. A total of 17.7% of the population across the 18 communities lost their assets to flood waters and mud, and over 14% of the affected population had their livelihoods destroyed. Below summarises the impact of flooding and landslides in affected communities:
The assessment report also indicated the flooding is the result of cumulative factors in the period of high rainfall in Sierra Leone. Floods were attributed to poor urban planning and irregular construction, poor waste management practices, reclaiming of swamps and banking waterways for construction, and extreme weather conditions and climate change. The slope failure and infrastructural collapse are due to poor urban planning, building along waterways, sand mining, and rock quarrying.