Sierra Leone Flooding and Mudslide Relief August 19 to August 29
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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