The Minister of the Environment, Professor Foday M. Jaward, yesterday engaged stakeholders in the environmental sector to properly map out strategies to swiftly respond to incidents of disaster across Sierra Leone.
Representatives from the National Protected Area Authority, the Office of National Security, and the Environment Protection Agency, Sierra Leone Roads Authority, among other institutions, discussed flood mitigation and other environmental disasters and its overall risk among Sierra Leoneans.
Minister Jaward said that was the first time his ministry had organized a huge inter-agency meeting as environmental issues are of paramount concern.
He added that only recently, an inter-ministerial team was constituted not only to respond to disasters but to better plan so that mitigation measures can be addressed from the standpoints of adjustment to natural hazards, flood damage prevention, flood damage reduction among other things.
"I am happy for the calibre of people that attend this meeting today. This tells you that all of us are concerned about environmental issues as no single individual can address environmental problems. The environment is important to all of us and so collectively we can address the numerous challenges we are faced with. I want to have your views and collectively we can plan for a better environment. Unfortunately, we have seen serious encroachment on the environment, we have seen sea level rise, it is against this backdrop that the president set up a taskforce including the environment ministry, Lands, ONS etc. in order to address some of these challenges because the communities are expecting a lot from us," he said, adding that he has presented a cabinet paper on the use of plastic.
While presenting findings on recent flooding at Pademba Road/ Dundas Street areas, Mr. Momodu Bah of the Environment Protection Agency, said human activities have strongly responsible for the said disaster.
He said people are in the habit of constructing houses on waterbeds thus affecting the free flow of water
He added that there should be a robust joint institutional collaborative efforts among the Ministry of the Environment , the Freetown City Council, ONS, among others, to find an immediate and long term remedial measures that will address flooding in that community.
"The ministry of works should remove all the squatter settlements along the PWD/ Samba Gutter to increase its carrying capacity of surface runoff and reduce the garbage dumped in the gutter," he concluded.