The Ministry of Finance, through Fiscal Risk Management Division, has engaged Ministries, Departments and Agencies on Monday 31st, October 2023, to validate the draft Disaster Risk Financing Strategy and Implementation Plan to address disasters in the country.
In his opening statement, the Principal Deputy Financial Secretary (PDFS) Samuel E.B Momoh, who Co-Chair the meeting, thanked the World Bank Team and the Disaster Risk Finance Division based in Washington D.C for their support to the Ministry of Finance in developing the Disaster Risk Financing Strategy and implementation plan.
He continued that, over the past 25 years, Sierra Leone has experienced more than 300 disaster events, of which 10 were floods. Disasters in Sierra Leone over the years, he said, present a broad range of social, economic, fiscal and environmental impacts.
He noted that these catastrophes’ human and economic costs are huge, and figures would likely increase with the growing population, climate change, environmental degradation and urbanisation.
Mr. Momoh furthered that the financial management of these disasters has been a critical challenge, leading to diverting resources from longer-term development investment to meet immediate relief and recovery needs. Therefore, he called for a proper mechanism to be put in place to help in managing the fiscal impacts of disasters.
He mentioned that the impact of climate change in the country is increasing in frequency and severity of disasters. As the Ministry responsible for Finance, the PDFS stated that in 2020, it requested the World Bank for Technical Assistance to conduct a Crisis and Disaster Risk Finance Diagnostic (CDRF Diagnostic) to assess the country’s financial preparedness to respond to crises and disasters.
He informed the participants that the process of developing this strategy was very much inclusive, with massive input from National Disaster Management Agency(NDMA) as Co-Chair, Ministry of Planning and Economic Development, Ministry of Environment and Climate Change, Environmental Protection Agency, National Commission for Social Action(NACSA), Office of National Security(ONS), Sierra Leone Meteorological Agency, National Asset and Government Property Commission and the Sierra Leone Commission provided and assigned Senior Officers as Core Writing Group Members support in developing this strategy.
The Deputy Minister of Finance II, Bockarie Kalokoh, said disaster is a cross-cutting issue that has affected the country’s economic stability and hindered development efforts.
He mentioned that the strategy would establish collaborative efforts among critical stakeholders in executing initiatives to make the government of Sierra Leone financially resilient to support households and businesses when confronted with disasters.
In addition, he said, the strategy is set to enhance recovery operations and encompass the improvement of early warning systems, expeditious allocation of funds, and empowering communities to be better prepared for future disasters.
The Minister continued that there are broader economic implications, including reducing Agricultural Productivity, damaging critical infrastructure, etc.
The Director General of the National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA), Lieutenant Retired Brima Sesay, said Sierra Leone is vulnerable to a range of natural and man-made disasters such as mudslides, floods, and fires, and all these have been causes of great misery and suffering, to the economy.
He noted that, in recent times, climate change has posed new challenges that disaster management strategies needed to cope with the chances of future extreme events that would be much higher than today because of the changes in climate patterns.
He added that the government and partners must prioritise disaster preparedness, mitigation, and response mechanisms.
A representative from the Chief Minister’s Office, Dr Gaima, declared the workshop open and stated that the government has established and strengthened various institutions to manage disasters in the country.
He also noted that Sierra Leone, like many African countries, is prone to disaster. He explained the roles of ONS, NDMA, EPA, NFF, and MAFFS and the establishment of local disaster committees in different localities charged with managing and preventing disasters in the country.
The Director of the Fiscal Rish Management Division, Dr Alhassan Mansaray, presented a PowerPoint presentation of the strategy, and participants made comments and input into the document.