Disaster management committees to prevent and respond to local disasters

Planning for disaster in Port Loko District Council © Alpha Sesay/ UNDP Sierra Leone
The Sierra Leone Disaster Management Department (DMD) in the Office of the National Security (ONS) in collaboration with all 14 District Councils and with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has completed training of 355 members of District Disaster Management Committees (DDMCs).
DDMCs were established with the aim to play a key role in identifying, preventing and mitigating disasters at the local level, as well as in communicating risks and issues to the national level.  In 2013, UNDP supported DMD in providing training for DDMCs in 11 districts, in collaboration with the Sierra Leone Police, National Fire Force, Ministry of Health, Sierra Leone Red Cross and others.
Recently, additional training was provided in Kambia, Port Loko, and the Western Area. The training also takes into account lessons learned from the Ebola crisis, during which the importance of local emergency response structures was emphasized.
Mammadi Kamara, a market lady who is a DDMC member in the Kambia Chiefdom and a Chairperson of the Bramaia Village Committee in the Kukuna Chiefdom, said that her district is prone to frequent bushfires and other disasters. “With this training, we no longer have to wait for the Government when there is a disaster,” she said adding,  “Whenever there is potential threat of disaster, with this training and the composition of the DDMC, we should be able to prevent it or respond quickly” she said. 
The training also covered orientation on basic disaster risk reduction concepts, community contingency planning, early warning systems, emergency first aid training, team work in tackling disasters and extension disaster prevention mechanisms with emphasis on a community-based approach.
Samuel Sheika Adikali Sankoh, Chairman of the Kambia District Council said that Disaster Committees can empower people with basic skills in order to mitigate impact of disasters happening at community levels. “The Kambia district has been suffering several disasters like
John Vandy Rogers, Director of DMD, said that “UNDP has boosted ONS-DMD in strategic areas like capacity building, technical and financial support, which has had an immense improvement in our overall performance.”
He continued that UNDP has had a long standing relationship with the Government especially in the area of disaster risk reduction and hoped for more collaboration in strategic areas aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals.
The composition of the committee comprises Paramount Chiefs, representatives of District Councils, ONS coordinators, Ministry of Health and Sanitation, Police, District Immigration Officers, Armed Forces, National Fire Force, Sierra Leone Red Cross and local media, youths, and women groups.
UNDP works with vulnerable communities to reduce the impacts and risks of natural and other disasters in Sierra Leone by reinforcing and supporting the stabilization of livelihoods, and protection and empowerment of vulnerable people especially youth and women. UNDP also supports the DMD of the ONS to ensure that early warning modalities are put in place to avert or manage disasters.
Contact information
UNDP Communications Unit. Email: communication.sl@undp.org. Follow us on Twitter @UNDPSierraLeone and Facebook on UNDPSierraLeone, or log on to www.sl.undp.org