By David Kamara
The Office of National Security (ONS) on Wednesday June 24th 2020 engaged key stakeholders at a consultative meeting at the Armed Force Technical and Training College (AFTEC) at Wilberforce on the fight against Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR).
In her address, the assistant Director Office of Disaster Preparedness Management (ODPM), ONS Philomena Turay said disasters cannot be stopped but can be reduced and mitigated, with community resilience projects adopted in communities.
She expressed gratitude to various protection partners including MDAs for their collaborative efforts in the fight to mitigate disasters across the country.
The meeting which attracted community representatives, human right activists and other relevant protection agencies discussed issues relating to Disaster Risk Reduction.
Speaking on the theme ‘Building resilience through meaningful community engagement’ the Project Coordinator of the Freetown City Council, Neilford Rose said the Freetown Emergency Recovery Project (FERP) has always been on high gear in that direction.
She expressed sincere thanks for such a vital and timely consultative dialogue organized by the Office of the National Security (ONS) and its development partners. She encourages all participants to give their relevant views in order to find possible solution to mitigate occurrence of disasters in their respective communities. She said disaster risk reduction is a collaborative effort especially when it comes to national security.
She guaranteed their quick response to any disaster case across the capital.
Deputy Director Head of Operations Meteorological Agency (MET. AGENCY) Gabriel Gbakie in his address assures all relevant Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs) of their preparedness to provide all necessary support in their own way. He appreciated the pivotal role played by government in order to mitigate disasters across the country.
Nelson Nyandehmor representative from Sierra Leone Red Cross Society (SLRCS) said that they are auxiliary to government in good planning, and assures their readiness with all available resources in this fight since they are concerned to save lives and properties. He disclosed that the Red Cross has trained more community based volunteers on disaster risk reduction. “No one can stop disaster” but they can be prevented from causing destruction which normally causes lost of lives and properties in affected areas, he added.
Mariama Whitmore from the Freetown City Council (FCC) said providing healthy sanitary condition within the capital is a priority. She added: “We have been relentless in such a fight and have been in the front line to minimize disaster outbreaks, as regular cleaning exercises are usually organized in various communities to maintain free flow of drainages, that may lead to flooding.’’
Dr. Morlai Kargbo on the other hand said engagement and consultation play key role in this fight as the country has been faced with disaster outbreaks including Ebola, mudslide, floods and now Covid-19.
He said the ONS is highly concerned and is capacitating communities with desired attention to build community resilience and respond to disaster outbreaks.