Freetown is home to a number of slums along the capital’s coastal and urban hill areas, all of which have been affected by the flooding.
Many have died, and businesses and homes have been destroyed. People have been forced to abandon their homes, and this displacement puts young women and girls at risk of sexual abuse or violence.
Restless Development works across three slum areas and the flooding has had an impact on our work there. This includes a project that organises women’s groups and equips them with knowledge about their rights and essential business skills such as saving. The project works with men as well in order to reduce cases of domestic violence.
The project also distributed small grants to help women like Mariatu start their own businesses (read Mariatu’s story to find out more about these savings group). The buildings where the women’s groups meet, the equipment they use and some of the money they’ve saved has been badly damaged.
As well as collecting data to assess the most urgent needs of communities, volunteers are also providing health and hygiene talks. These help reduce the risk of illness and disease spreading as a result of the flood water.
Rates of sexual violence increase during crisis like these, so volunteers have and will continue to challenge this through sessions on sexual and gender based violence.
We are also organising sessions with affected community members to make longer term action plans that address their needs. These will be shared with the government and organisations responding to the flooding.
Last week in response to a catastrophic mudslide and flooding in and around Freetown, Restless Development Sierra Leone mobilised 100 young volunteers to gather vital data on the needs of affected communities.
In response to the floods, Francis Kaikumba, Restless Development Director based in Freetown, said:
"The flooding in Freetown has had devastating effects across the city, and has directly affected our work in three communities.
"We are quickly gathering vital information from those communities most in need. A hundred young leaders are working in the four most affected areas, collecting essential data to help establish the number of people affected and the scale of support needed to respond. By working directly with affected communities, we can ensure the humanitarian response from the government and aid agencies matches their needs.
"I can confirm that all staff and volunteers with Restless are safe, and I’d like to thank our friends and partners around the world for their concern and ongoing support. Our thoughts are with all those affected by the incident."