NDMA Conference Room, Aberdeen, Freetown, 30th July, 2021 — The National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA) today engaged its Community Disaster Risk Reduction Volunteers (CDRRV) in various communities within the Western Area on risk reduction and preparedness as the country is now in the rains.
The CDRRV has been playing a major role in disaster mitigation in various communities prone to disasters, especially in Freetown over the years. Despite the fact that they are not on salary, these selfless volunteers have been providing their voluntary services by drawing NDMA’s attention to human activities that have the tendency to expose communities to disasters. Their invaluable contribution to the overall successes of NDMA cannot be overemphasized.
In his welcome address, the Deputy Director General, NDMA, John V. Rogers, started by acknowledging the positive impact the selfless work of the volunteers in the respective communities has had on the Agency since NDMA was under the Office of National Security (ONS) as a department. He pointed out that the volunteers are integral partners in disaster mitigation and preparedness.
“You are not on salary, yet, you monitor your communities constantly and report on human activities that cause disasters or increase the vulnerability of the community/settlement to disaster”
“You call us regularly to draw our attention to illegal human activities like sand mining, people throwing garbage in drainages; and when there is heavy rain the drainages will be blocked and overflowed which most times causes flooding, banking of wet lands to construct houses to name but a few. Only God can pay you”, he said.
Director of Risk Reduction, NDMA, Thomas Lebbie, underscored the significant role of the volunteers in mitigating incidences of disasters in the country. “I am new here; I am looking forward to having an excellent working relationship with you. Together, we can make the work of disaster management lighter. I am going to be visiting you frequently, so that, together we can assess the threats in your communities, and map out strategies to address the eminent threats and reduce the risk of disasters”.
Also in attendance was the Director of Research, Monitoring and Evaluation, Abu Bakarr Bangura, who admonished the volunteers that his office will also be working closely with them to generate data hovering around major causes (both human and natural) of disasters for appropriate action by management. He went on to say that he is currently developing a working tool which will make it easier for them to report illegal human activities direct from their communities.
According to him, this will save them time and energy. He concluded by appreciating the crucial role being played by the volunteers over the years in mitigating the prevalence of disasters.
Mohamed Daramy, who is the chairman of CDRRV in Old Wharf Community said, he was extremely happy for such a meeting, expressing delight that NDMA is now a stand-along Agency that has so much power to address the so many challenges caused by human activities in reducing the risk of disasters in vulnerable communities.
He also said that the habit of residents to dump wastes in drainages when it rains contributes significantly to flooding in his community. Mohamed went on to highlight another challenge which has to do with some security apparatus and other players within the environment sector who give clearance to people to construct houses beyond demarcation limits and on wet lands, adding that most of these houses are exposed to flooding when it rains.
Abdul Karim Turay, CDRR volunteer, expressed similar challenges they face in the Babadorie-Lumley Community. He drew the attention of NDMA to the fact that the community is challenged with dumping sites, saying that people don’t have places to dump their wastes, hence the reason why they dump wastes in drainages during the rains.
Marie Bangura from Gloucester, Sarah Bangura from Goodrich-Funkia, Alpha T. Rogers from Kamayama, Olubumi Vogli from Bololo, Foday Dumbuya from Sorie Town, Alusine Conteh from Ogu Farm, Ishmael Bangura from Magazine, who are NDMA volunteers, gave similar updates on ongoing activities that pose threat to their communities.
In responding to their updates and concerns, Director of Communications, NDMA, Mohamed L. Bah, started by realizing the enormity of burden on the shoulders of the volunteers in performing their duties. He said the Agency was fully aware of challenges they face on a daily basis in carrying out their functions.
“At times, you are even attacked physically by community people for exposing their illegal activities. Some call you names, you are branded and often times get disappointed because you don’t get the required support from authorities within your communities”, he pointed out.
Director Bah assured the volunteers of the Agency’s fullest support in ensuring that they are safe, provided with protective gears, giving technical trainings to enhance their capacities in disaster management and develop simple and user friendly tools to make their work less cumbersome. He furthered that there is a consultant from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in the NDMA who is currently working on the above plans.
He also encouraged the volunteers to continue working hard in protecting the lives and properties of their community people by exposing activities like illegal sand mining, stone breaking in prohibited areas, and construction of houses on wet lands or beyond demarcated areas.
He concluded by assuring them of the Director General’s passion to ensuring their statuses are improved on, in coming months.
©️ Directorate of Communications
National Disaster Management Agency