NDMA Conference Room, Aberdeen, Freetown, Tuesday 3rd August, 2021 – In a bid to foster effective collaboration with Agencies that are crucial to the management of disasters in Sierra Leone, the National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA) today engaged the Meteorological Agency (Met Agency) to devise strategies of informing the public on early warning signs in line with Cluster Seven (7) of the Medium Term Development Plan.
The meeting was chaired by the Deputy Director of NDMA, John V. Rogers and attracted top management officials of both Agencies.
The Deputy Director welcomed officials of Met Agency and thanked them for the exceptional work they have been doing in transforming the Agency, and bringing it to international standards. He said the timeliness in doling out weather forecasts that cover the whole country, thereby preparing the minds of people of expected weather conditions is laudable, and that their work will definitely help to build the resilience of NDMA.
He also noted the significance of collaborating with key sector players like Met Agency in giving NDMA accurate and reliable weather forecast for onward dissemination to the public that could prevent loss of lives and properties.
While giving update on the status of Met Agency, the Deputy Director General, Gabriel Kpaka, started by giving brief background to the Agency, saying it was established in 1827 and was the Headquarters for the British Meteorological Services. He said measurement started in Freetown in 1847 and 1928, when the first Meteorological outstation was set up.
He continued that in 1961, the Sierra Leone British Meteorological Services became the Sierra Leone Meteorological Department (SLMD) with added responsibilities. “In 2017 the SLMD was transformed to the Sierra Leone Meteorological Agency and it is now structured well enough since joining the Climate Change Convention in 1993. Also, Sierra Leone is a Permanent Representative to the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO). The Agency is currently under the Ministry of Environment”, he said.
On the functions of the Met Agency, Director Kpaka said since the establishment of the Agency by an Act of Parliament, the Agency has seen lot of transformative trajectories from 2017 to date, ranging from gradually populating all its organograms across the country and increasing their weather forecast stations from 2 to 79 within the country. According to him, this has helped the Met Agency to conform to international ratifications to the extent that other countries now rely on their data for advisories.
Director Kpaka also noted that when it comes to disaster management and giving out warnings, it falls within the remit of NDMA entirely and that Met Agency will only come in to provide technical support. He further went on to state that his Agency is looking forward to a strong collaboration with NDMA by providing technical and joint assessment support in enhancing a well-coordinated approach to dealing with disaster management in the country.
“Sierra Leone would record rainfall amounts equivalent to below average over the entire period with respect to the 1981 -2010 baseline period, which means we have been experiencing a decline in rainfall to date”, he said.
Mr. Kpaka furthered that despite the fact that there has been a decline in rainfall over the years, it does not preclude that flooding will not occur especially in August of every year. He said heavy downpour of rain within an hour to the tune of 20 millimeter of water will possibly lead to flooding in some disaster prone communities.
Director of Risk Reduction and Preparedness, NDMA, Thomas Lebbie, said he was particularly happy Met Agency is willing to collaborate with NDMA because, according to him, it will make his work easier in reducing the vulnerability of communities by issuing early warning signs.
Director of Partnerships, NDMA, Soko Kai-Samba, noted that his responsibility is to identify local and international sector players NDMA can partner with in mitigating disasters in the country. “The partnership drive the NDMA has taken is geared towards bringing critical players within the sector to have a uniform approach in managing hazards in Sierra Leone.
The NDMA is a new outfit, we are ready and willing to dialogue, engage and discuss possible outcomes that will make the work of the Agency less ponderous.
The NDMA will continue to collaborate and partner where possible to reduce the risk of disasters, develop framework for timely response and put together a workable policy for recovery.
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National Disaster Management Agency