Sierra Leone

UN inter-agency Sierra Leone donor alert - Pujehun flooding crisis, 8 Oct 2005

Originally published


- 777 or more children under are suffering from the effects of the flooding, which could lead to malnutrition.

- 1,174 farmlands (rice fields) damaged with 1,111 farm families and 102 farmers groups affected by the flooding.

- 213 villages of the 12 chiefdoms of the district were badly affected.

- Over 7,000 people affected by the flooding.

- Outbreak of diseases .

- The total amount requested for is USD 365,190

1. Context

The district of Pujehun is situated in the Southern Region of Sierra Leone. It is endowed with vast and fertile arable land conducive for large scale food crop production. Therefore, it is one of the largest rice growing districts in the country with 85% of the population depending on agriculture for their livelihood. Lowland areas around Gbundapi, Matanka, Sawula, lakes Mabsie and Mapei are renowned rice growing areas. In addition to farming, fishing in the Wanje and Moa rivers and their estuaries is a major economic activity.

Torrential rains in the southern region of Sierra Leone which started on 13 August 2005 caused widespread flooding in several villages, particularly those of Taninahun, Jorma Jargor, Swao and Bandakoh. The situation worsened over 72 hours as floods continued to wreck havoc within Pujehun District. As a result of this, water levels in the Moa and Wanje Rivers caused extensive damage to homes and social infrastructure to many coastal and riverine communities. Aid agencies expressed their concern about poor sanitary conditions in the area which, if not immediately addressed, could lead to the outbreak of diseases such as cholera, diarrhoea, dysentery and typhoid fever. Due to the flooding, 7,000 people have been displaced, thus leading to overcrowding which further burden the already existing weak social services. As result of this, there is a high vulnerability to communicable diseases like measles, etc.

2. Action to date

To date, about 6,000 people from the 12 chiefdoms have received food rations from the World Food Programme (WFP). The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) working in collaboration Non Governmental Organisations (NGO) partners provided Non-Food Items (NFI), 2,000 sachets of Oral Rehydration Salt (ORS); 90 kg of chlorine; 1,000 cakes of washing soap; and 36 sets of Oral Dehydration (ORT) kits. The World Health Organisation (WHO) is working in collaboration with the Government to provide essential and preventive drugs to the Pujehun affected people through the Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MoHS). The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) provided 3,500 blankets distributed by Lutheran World Federation (LWF). The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent (IFRC) through the Sierra Leone Red Cross Society distributed NFIs to the affected people in Pujehun. LWF has distributed 15 bales of quilts and other NFIs to the flood affected people. It is worth noting that, to date, the government has not given any financial support to the relief efforts due to lack of capacity and resources. However, there has been some contribution in-kind and financial donations in their personal capacity as the President and Vice President of the country, as well as other philanthropic private individuals. OCHA has made available an emergency grant in the sum of USD 76, 000 for the procurement of relief items, of which USD 36,000 was released from the Norwegian emergency grant. The HAU-OCHA Sierra Leone has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Lutheran World Federation to procure and distribute NFIs to the affected population.

3. Need assessment

Due to the lack of resources and capacity by the Government of Sierra Leone (GoSL) to respond to the disaster, UN agencies and its partners depleted their emergency supplies during the first 72hours.

Disease outbreak such as diarrhoea and vomiting, measles, and a variety of water borne illnesses have been reported in the flood affected areas of Pujehun district and need urgent action. Immunisation campaigns need to be carried out to prevent the spread of infection especially among children under five years old.

Large acreage of farms at various levels of development (tittering and booting) were submerged in flood waters for a number of days causing extensive crop damage. Emergency action (provision of short duration seed rice to allow farmers to take advantage of the September planting season) is of utmost importance. Most communities also lost livestock and poultry as a result of the floods.

4. Impact of not addressing the need

The unfolding situation is likely to cause serious food insecurity in the district. Hunger is glaringly visible in the worst affected communities with high incidence of malnutrition, especially among children and mothers. This is compounded by accelerated hunger incidence among all households due to crop and livestock losses.

Moderately and severely malnourished children tend to have weakened immune systems and lowered resistance to infections, and they are consequently susceptible to common diseases.

Insufficient funding by the international community will worsen the already precarious situation on the ground if adequate humanitarian action is not undertaken to meet the needs of the affected populations.

5. Scaling up response

Integrated health services will be provided in the affected areas with a view to reducing both morbidity and mortality rates of the vulnerable people. UNICEF will do this through the existing health facilities in the target communities.

In the area of education, UNICEF will support community based rehabilitation of the temporary shelters in nine community schools with basic materials such as plastic sheeting, roofing nails and cement, as well as teaching and learning materials for the 1,950 affected children.

To ensure that special protection is extended to children, UNICEF will work with the Government and child protection partners to ensure that families are kept together.

In collaboration with Action Aid Sierra Leone and the MoHS, UNICEF will support community based construction and maintenance of water and sanitation facilities particularly in the schools to be rehabilitated and the targeted communities. Chlorine and other items will be provided to the District Health Medical Team (DHMT) to ensure that adequate and safe drinking water are available.

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