In August 2017, mudslides caused by heavy rain killed over 500 people in Freetown, Sierra Leone. More than 600 people were left unaccounted for and thousands were displaced from their homes. With your support, we were able to immediately activate our distribution teams to deliver essential items, including clean water, to some of the worst affected communities.
Hygiene kits ready for distribution following the 2017 mudslides in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Photo: Kristin Myers / Concern Worldwide.
The capital of Freetown is built around the lower slopes of the Sugarloaf mountain. The mudslides caused a section of this mountain to collapse. Combined with continued heavy rains, drainage canals couldn’t cope with the sudden influx of water and surrounding neighbourhoods flooded quickly. These floods destroyed people’s homes and washed away all of their belongings. Thousands were left homeless and two camps for Internally Displaced People (IDPs) opened up in the Freetown area. Many people had little or no access to clean water and sanitation. People were forced to use contaminated wells or rainwater which had pooled on the rooves of their homes.
How you helped
We have been working in Sierra Leone since 1996. Thanks to your support we were able to respond quickly and effectively. You helped us to meet the most urgent needs of over 3,000 people, including the displaced families living in IDP camps, and families living in three of the worst affected communities in the city – Culvert, Kaningo and Kamayama.
The gift of water
We established clean water supplies, trucking in thousands of gallons of water to the areas that were going without.
Mabinty Sesay and her family were among the many people who you supported with the gift of water. Mabinty told us they had been struggling to access any water and were delighted when Concern intervened.
“Now I understand the saying ‘water is life’. We struggled to get even a cup of water. My children only took their bath when it rained. We were all happy about the timely intervention from Concern. It has been of great help to this community”.
Mabinty Sesay with her children Fatmata, Kabia and Hawa. Photo: Mabrat Abdula /Concern Worldwide
We also distributed hygiene kits, which are vital for halting the spread of disease after a disaster like this. In 2012, an outbreak of cholera in Freetown infected about 19,000 people and killed 300. Fears of a repeat outbreak grew after the mudslides. Crowded communities, packed tightly with shacks and small homes, were left covered in flood water.
The hygiene kits included jerry cans and water purification tablets, buckets, bleach, and soap so families could practice healthy hygiene habits.
Helping the displaced
For families living in the IDP camps, we also provided tents and other essential household items.
Isatu Sesay and her husband Osman were very grateful for the items they received. Before the mudslides she had been a fish trader and he was a wheelbarrow pusher. But their home was destroyed and along with their three children, they were forced to seek shelter in a camp. They could not go back to their jobs as they had lost all of their belongings, and they had no money to start a new life.
“When Concern brought the items, it was like a gift arriving at a time most needed and they have been of great use to my family,” said Isatu.
“It was like a burden taken off our shoulder. My family and I are very grateful to Concern for such support,” added Osman.
When disaster strikes, we all need a helping hand. Thank you for being that helping hand for Mabinty, Isatu and thousands more like them.
Isatu Sesay and her husband Osman. Photo: Meklit Misganaw / Concern Worldwide
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