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Monday, February 6, 2023

Death Trap: Boulders Pose Death Risk to Thousands

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Death Trap: Boulders Pose Death Risk to Thousands

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We need the present government to come to our aid to remove these stones before something grave happens”.

He also said they will not mind if they are relocated first until the stones are removed hence their lives are safe. He ended up expressing his experience over the years under the stones, stating: “I hardly sleep at night thinking about such a thing over my head but I don’t have a choice now because it is hard to get places nowadays in and I am a family man.”

In such a situation, the Office of National Security (ONS) is responsible for disaster management. The authority is responsible for identifying disaster prone areas and take necessary actions but that has not been seen over the years except when disasters occur that is when they are seen around. Several efforts were made to reach them in order to respond to some of these concerns raised by these residents but all proved futile.

Sierra Leone according to Global Partnership for sustainable Development Data, receives the most annual rainfall than any African country. When this happens, flooding, erosions, mudslide and other disasters are expected to happen that will affect lives and properties. The soil lose grip of the stones with frequent rains in the country. One thing that is visible is that some of these residents are involved in stone mining and they tend to tamper with stones around the community and this is done by digging in search of stones leaving the soil bear to be washed away. The country is faced with various poor drainage systems leaving water rushing down from hill top communities almost every day when it rains.

The first ever national hazard assessment of Sierra Leone, which was developed in 2004 indicates the vulnerability of the country to the impacts of flooding and landslide, among other climatic disasters (ONS 2004).  Besides this assessment, the recent landslide is seen as an opportunity to review the vulnerability of the country especially Freetown. As the rainy season draws closer to its peak; the fears of the uprooted rolling boulders that are seen as a norm crushing people and houses every year lingers in the minds of residents of Hill Top community which is a grave concern for them.

Some of these people live in constant fear thinking about a disaster that may happen at any time. If these stones are to roll down, the magnitude of the disaster will be grave because of the number of houses living under them and there is nothing that will be able to stop them from reaching down Hill cot road. Perhaps, they might even go down to red pump community depending on the speed. Imagine the kind of disaster that will happen in the country. It will triple the Mortemeh landslide.  Even though these people have expressed concerns for government to take actions, one is left with one question: why are they living under a disaster that is waiting to happen?   It boils down to one thing, human activities like cutting down of trees, stone mining and other activities are still on the increase in the Western Area and hill top communities are not exempted which brings the issue of achieving goal 13 of the sustainable development goals indicated by UNDP by 2030 which Sierra Leone made a commitment to. For the country to achieve goal 13 of the SDG, it must take climate change issues seriously.  This story was done with support from Media Reform Coordinating Group and Sierra Leone Reporters Union, funded by UNDP.

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