Sierra Leone’s national leaders and experts came together on May 8, 2019 to continue collaboration with Pacific Disaster Center (PDC) on the National Disaster Preparedness Baseline Assessment (NDPBA) underway since late 2018. The mid-term workshop held in Freetown at the Radisson Blu Mammy Yoko Hotel and facilitated by PDC—an applied science and research center of the University of Hawaii—brought together diverse stakeholders from across disciplines to help build disaster management capabilities as well as review preliminary disaster management and risk assessment findings. The workshop included a case study flood exercise based on the deadly 2017 mudslide affecting tens of thousands in the nation’s capital. The exercise explored pre-event planning and response coordination among Sierra Leone’s Office of National Security, Disaster Management Department, the University of Sierra Leone, United Nations, USAID, Red Cross, Centers for Disease Control, and the U.S. Embassy Freetown.
During the exercise, participants were engaged by PDC to identify agency roles and responsibilities during the disaster, explore communication with other agencies, and engage in effective response coordination through the Disaster Management Department. Issues, challenges, and successes were summarized and documented for integration into the disaster management analysis. Participants also reviewed the preliminary findings of the risk assessment currently underway which aims to improve disaster risk reduction capacity and capability at the national and sub-national level. Findings documented disaster risk reduction initiatives, risks and vulnerabilities, and data gaps in critical information needed for effective disaster preparedness, planning, response, and mitigation. “By encouraging a coordinated multi-agency approach to disaster risk reduction, the NDPBA program provides a venue for focused engagement that connects stakeholders throughout all phases of disaster management,” said PDC’s Humanitarian Assistance Senior Advisor Steve Recca who led the workshop. He said that in addition to knowledge exchanges and facilitating collaborative efforts between stakeholders, PDC also conducts in-country data analysis to ensure the necessary temporal and spatial data is available to decision makers to inform effective disaster risk reduction investments and actions. PDC will return to Sierra Leone in late summer and fall to conduct additional data sharing sessions and analysis in preparation for the NDPBA final workshop.