WASHINGTON, February 22, 2018 — The World Bank today approved an International Development Association (IDA)* grant of $10 million to support Sierra Leone in its efforts to recover from severe landslides and floods in Freetown in August 2017. The landslide, comprising a mix of clay soil and boulders of up to 40 cubic meters, ripped through the city of Freetown with tremendous energy destroying everything in its path. Residents reported a large ‘tidal wave’ of material advancing down the river channel. The event had a massive human impact, with 1,141 declared dead or missing and over 6,000 people affected, and caused major destruction of infrastructure.
The Freetown Emergency Recovery Project will finance rehabilitation of selected critical infrastructure in Freetown and strengthen government capacity for managing disaster risk. To prevent future landslides in the area, the project will implement slope remediation earth works prior to the next rainy season in May. It will also finance rehabilitation of roads, bridges, drainage, and water infrastructure. ‘Build back better’ principles will be used to ensure sustainability of these works to future disasters.
After the disaster, a Damage and Loss Assessment — financed by the ACP-EU Natural Disaster Risk Reduction program managed by the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery — estimated that a total economic value of the effects of the landslides and floods of over $31 million and resilient recovery needs of over $82 million.
“The Multi-Hazard Risk Assessment and the Damage and Loss Assessment that have just been completed are cutting edge technical reports that will help inform this project and other ongoing and pipeline World Bank projects, as well as the future development path of Freetown,” said Parminder Brar, World Bank Country Manager for Sierra Leone.
To build the Government’s capacity for managing climate and disaster risk, this project will also finance activities to strengthen the country’s preparedness capacity, especially for improving its early warning systems. Further, to address challenges of waste management, which exacerbate flooding in Freetown, this project will support technical studies around solid waste management and drainage.
“The Government has expressed strong commitment to the project, with several departments involved. In addition to infrastructure rehabilitation and reconstruction, the project intends to build the Government’s capacity to coordinate for improved disaster risk management,” said Robert Reid, World Bank Task Team Leader.
* The World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA), established in 1960, helps the world’s poorest countries by providing grants and low to zero-interest loans for projects and programs that boost economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve poor people’s lives. IDA is one of the largest sources of assistance for the world’s 75 poorest countries, 39 of which are in Africa. Resources from IDA bring positive change to the 1.5 billion people who live in IDA countries. Since 1960, IDA has supported development work in 113 countries. Annual commitments have averaged about $18 billion over the last three years, with about 54 percent going to Africa.