''All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing'' - Edmund Burke


S I E R R A  H E R A L D

Vol XI No 9

The tendency sometimes to protect perpetrators for the sake of peace...doesn't help society. Impunity should not be allowed to stand. - Kofi Annan on Waki report

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Sunday September 20, 2015 - As heavy rains create havoc in Sierra Leone, an uncaring and undemocratic thing passing itself off as a government of the people is again at its wits end - pretending that it was an unexpected event. This even though many, including the Sierra Herald have warned about this becoming a reality.

We join all kind hearted and good people in wishing the people of our great country well and that the Good Lord in His mercy will comfort the surviving relations of the dead as well as those affected - mainly the poor and unconnected whose meagre possessions have been washed away and now left homeless.

Government officials including the chief violator of the Constitution, the smoke and mirrors rat of a President occupying State House has once more seen this tragedy, not as something that could have been prevented if only they had taken their attention off dubious money-making enterprises, but is now used as a photo opportunity to show the like-minded that he really cares by visiting the national stadium where many of those affected have been ordered to find refuge and whatever succour that comes their way.Part of the many photos of the floods in Freetown.An earlier flooding scene in Freetown always ignored by an uncaring government.

No doubt, the rat and the cabal he directs would also see this disaster as yet another opportunity to enrich self and cronies - Ebola Virus Disease combat resources style with the rogue so-called leader of Parliament one Ibrahim Rassin Bundu ready to tell the nation that they have no business asking questions about the findings of the Auditor General on how resources for combating the outbreak was used, misused and abused as cronies of the rat lined their pockets with the peoples' wealth.

And to make matters even worse - we have the Anti Corruption Commission, headed by one Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara actually allowing himself to be browbeaten by the same Rassin into stopping any investigation into the massive corruption unearthed. Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara - a man who served on the Special Court and who knows his powers as enshrined in the Anti Corruption Act of 2008 actually allowed the likes of Rassin to tell him what to do quite forgetting that he, Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara has the authority to summon Rassin before him as he Rassin had clearly violated sections of the law. Rassin may be a member of the Legislature, but the business of interpreting the law does not lie with Parliament, its the business of the Judiciary, and Rassin's assault on the ramparts of the Anti Corruption Law is itself a crime for which he should be charged.

But back to the recent tragedy, pictures of which had been awash on the social media with some scenes all too graphic and encompassing - scenes that would make any government worth its salt to bow its head in shame - but not the setup that passes itself off as a government in Freetown. If we know them well (and we think we do) they, the rat and his cabal will soon set up a committee to address the sufferings of those affected. That committee will consist of the rat's chosen ones who would have been briefed on what to do "to keep the Pa happy" meaning slicing off allocations to line the pockets and ever-gaping and insatiable wants of the State thieves and plunderers.

It would appear that the number of people killed as a result of the floods are yet to be calculated. We got this from the VOA pages - "Heavy flooding in Freetown, Sierra Leone has killed at least 12 people and displaced thousands more from homes that were damaged or destroyed. Emergency accommodations have been set up at the National Stadium to help deal with the disaster. People are sitting in the bleachers, some are laying on mattresses provided, while others line up for food and water. Naomi Koroma is one of the thousands of people displaced.

She sits in the packed stadium cradling her newborn, only two days old. Koroma says she is scared and confused. Her house is still standing in her community called Congo Town, but not her belongings. “All my things in my house were damaged, money, my clothes, all my items, everything just washed away," said Koroma.A view of the floods in the south and east of Sierra Leone captured by journalist Umaru Fofana.

According to Indrias Kassaye, a communications specialist for UNICEF, almost 4,000 people have been registered so far at the stadium. He says the U.N. agency is helping women like Koroma by offering a medical clinic for children under five. He adds that with an Ebola crisis still in effect, things can be challenging. “The floods came at a difficult time, as Sierra Leone is fighting to reach zero, in terms of Ebola and the affected communities, they are amongst some of the high risk communities for Ebola in the Freetown area, so definitely the Ebola response is part of overall package provided by UNICEF and partners here at the stadium," said Kassaye. He says crowding at the stadium can create risks for other diseases. So the response includes making sure proper hygiene is in place, such as additional clean toilets and hand-washing facilities."

We were not surprised to hear about a registration exercise - an exercise that would see the names of those affected put on a list. Don't be surprised to see a number of lists popping up with fictitious names giving the nod so that the resources would be shared at the expense of the truly affected. Here you have people in all those slum areas grappling with basic hand to mouth issues of where to rest their heads, feed hungry stomachs as well as cater for health needs. It is this group of people, who can hardly afford the expenses of making it to the national stadium to be "registered" that the anti-people setup would have us believe that they really care for the people and not for their own pockets. Several affected family members have contacted us from Freetown, Bo and Kenema to tell us of their problems with the floods.School children are helped across a stream as they move through a pile of garbage.

Those in Kenema and Bo were surprised to hear about the Freetown stadium registration exercise and wondered why no government official visited them when the main road linking Kenema and Bo was cut off by the floods with many crops destroyed and those affected left without food or shelter.

They asked if they were non-Sierra Leoneans in the eyes of the authorities living, partying, eating and drinking in the capital Freetown while farmers' fields and grains get washed away. The floods in Kenema and Bo happened a week or two before the Freetown events that saw parts of buildings, buildings, vehicles and human beings being washed away in the torrents - the chief cause of which was man-made - thanks to an uncaring and deaf system that is not interested in the welfare of the poor.

How many times have concerned Sierra Leoneans not warned the rat and his cabal about the environmental chaos they are encouraging as water catchment and once thriving forest covers get stripped off by the thieving noveau riche. You don't have to visit the mountain areas of Freetown to see the devastation caused.

From any part of the city, it is so easy to see the problems being created in a country where the law is made to punish the poor and unconnected while a set of people are allowed to get away with murder.

In September 2003, John Whitfield wrote this observation in a magazine about what he saw as a looming disaster that could be stopped if Sierra Leone was serious about the environment. In an article titled - "Freetown's forest vanishing" he noted

If current rates of deforestation continue, the country's soil and water resources will suffer, while the destruction of mangrove swamps will cause fish stocks to collapse, says Richard Wadsworth of the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology in Huntingdon, near Cambridge. "In five years this is really going to hurt," he predicts.
The war, which lasted from 1991 to 2002, displaced between one-third and a half of Sierra Leone's population. Many moved from rural areas to the capital, Freetown, swelling its population from 1 million to 2.5 million.

Sierra Leone is reported to have signed up to a number of agreements relating to the protection of the environment and from what we have discovered, it would seem that the readiness to sign such deals has little to do with protecting the environment in Sierra Leone. It is seen as another route for garnering in funds that could be diverted into the pockets of individuals in a system that is bent on rewarding its operatives using all and every means necessary.

One source has it that - "The country has also endorsed and signed several international conventions and protocols including: Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC), United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification/Land Degradation (UNCCD), Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (the Ramsar Convention), The Cartagena Protocol on Biodiversity, United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), Basel Convention, Vienna Convention and Montreal Protocol, and the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants. These conventions and protocols are at different stages of implementation, but in general implementation is slow as many have not been ratified or harmonized with the laws, policies and programmes in Sierra Leone. As a result the country trails far behind in the implementation of the provisions of these conventions."Pigs quite a home at Kroo Bay slums

Sierra Leone is also committed to MDG Goal 7: Ensure environmental sustainability and has actually promised that it would halve by this year 2015, the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation. Yes that's the promise made by the government of the rat and you can well imagine what the ravages of the recent Freetown floods would mean where more than seventy percent of toilets are on site in houses and abodes and where a sewerage system is almost non existent with effluent and raw sewage pouring out into the wharf areas.

A visit to the abode of one of the APC's chief thugs, Government Wharf or something, who was a part of the assault team that attacked the SLPP offices in March 2009 will easily show just how reckless the uncaring cabal continues to be with the health of people.

The bay areas will be quite another story as open sewers are used as human waste disposal points with large areas blocked by rubbish dumped from the higher grounds and the recent floods must have increased the risks associated with water-borne diseases that could spell a health disaster for those living in and around those areas.

Now who in Sierra Leone has heard of an agency known as the Global Environment Facility? Not many we think and according to them - The Global Environment Facility (GEF) is an international partnership of 183 countries, international institutions, civil society organizations, and private sector to address global environmental issues. Serving as financial mechanism for several international environmental conventions, since 1991, the GEF has provided $14.6 billion in grants and leveraged $74.3 billion in co-financing for 4,032 projects in more than 165 developing countries. For 24 years, developed and developing countries alike have funded development projects and programs on biodiversity, climate change, international waters, land degradation, and chemicals and waste. Through its Small Grants Programme (SGP), the GEF has given over 20,000 grants to civil society and community based organizations totaling $1 billion.

This organisation has approved 13 projects for Sierra Leone - one of them being - Strengthening Climate Information and Early Warning Systems in Africa for Climate Resilient Development and Adaptation to Climate Change. The main aim - To strengthen the weather, climate and hydrological monitoring capabilities, early warning systems and available information for responding to extreme weather and planning adaptation to climate change in Sierra Leone. According to the organisation approval was given way back in 2013 and given what the country has just experienced, this need not have happened if the government as well as the GEF Agency, the UNDP had done something about it. These are the details on GEF Project ID 5006 that we found on their website with these government departments as the executing partners. They are: Sierra Leone Meteorological Department; Environment Protection Agency; Office of National Security/Disaster Management Department.

To say that the floods that hit Freetown was unexpected would be the greatest of the many lies and ready excuses in the arsenal of the uncaring cabal. This video has long been on the internet, viewed by many including the overlords at State House and so could have been prevented.

Nazia Parvez's video has been viewed by many in authority and these officials have done nothing. Just as they did when heavy rains cut off the road leading to the main referral hospital, Connaught and just as they turned a blind eye when boulders from outlying hills get washed down, trapping, killing and injuring all those in their path. Kindly take a look at Lost Freetown again and according to the producer -

LOST FREETOWN: A 30-min documentary unravelling the environmental disaster in Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone. The film shows how urban migration and displacement caused by the decade long civil war have resulted in a doubling of the population of Freetown, stretching the city resources beyond capacity. One interviewee extrapolates that up to 90% of Freetown residents live in what can be described as slums, according to the UN Habitat definition of a slum or informal settlement.

There have been many reports in previous years that should have alerted any caring government of the potential for disaster. In 2014 we had this headline in the AWOKO news outlet - "Sierra Leone News: Landslide kills 4 at Oloshoro". It states in part - Torrential rains yesterday caused a landslide, killing four youths at the Oloshoro community at Murray Town, where thousands of people have built shanty houses on disaster prone areas by the sea side. Waste disposal programmes non-existing as debris clog waterways.

The torrential rains reportedly caused the landslide, as the earth was hanging over many makeshift structures on a reclaimed land, killing four people and also damaging properties worth millions of Leones. The landslide took place in the early hours of yesterday morning when many of the residents were asleep.
According to an eye-witness Mohamed Sesay, who resides a few yards to the disaster scene, said during the torrential rains yesterday, they had a loud noise of stones and earth falling on a roof.

He said, when they rushed to the scene, they observed that one of the houses had been swallowed by the landslide and they were told four people usually sleep in one of the rooms...The National Fire Force arrived at the disaster scene later and helped community youths to excavate the soil, to remove the dead bodies. However, AWOKO observed that the Murray Town Community especially by the seaside has seen massive expansion of dwelling houses like any other slum in Freetown. The sprawling communities are haphazardly built on a reclaimed land underneath heavy boulders and high-soil which according to residents, can be described as a disaster zone.


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