The United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS)

United Nations Deputy Secretary-General visits landslide-affected community in Sierra Leone

Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed earlier this month visited a UNOPS-implemented project site that’s helping communities rebuild their lives and livelihoods after the 2017 landslide disaster.

At a special ceremony held in Freetown, Sierra Leone, Ms. Mohammed and her delegation officially visited the landslide remediation and stabilization project, where she also joined a community dialogue on women’s role in advancing environmental sustainability with key stakeholders and members of the Regent, Mortormeh community.

Ms. Mohammed was joined by UNOPS Country Manager Nick Gardner as well as country representatives of the World Bank, the United Kingdom’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), government officials and members of the Barefoot women initiative. The event was followed by a symbolic tree planting led by the Deputy Secretary-General.

For every disaster, if there is no learning then we will not put it back into prevention.

Amina J. Mohammed - United Nations Deputy Secretary-General

"Seeing the work that is put into slope stabilization will prevent another disaster like that of August 14, 2017 and that must be a learning that happens across the country," said Ms. Mohammed at the ceremony.

In August 2017, Sugarloaf Mountain, located on the outskirts of Freetown, collapsed after days of torrential rain. A tidal wave of mud, floodwater, boulders and trees destroyed homes and businesses in the neighborhood of Regent. Over 1,100 people were reported dead and more than 6,000 displaced.

In the aftermath of the disaster, UNOPS partnered with the government of Sierra Leone and the World Bank as well as the FCDO, to support landslide stabilization and remediation work – to help make the area safer as survivors rebuild their lives and livelihoods. 

“The Mortormeh landslide stabilization project is a great example of what can be achieved through positive collaboration between donor partners, UN agencies, government Ministries, Departments and agencies, and the local community,” said UNOPS Country Manager Nick Gardner. 

Multiple actors were involved in the response effort and in the rehabilitation and environmental restoration of the site. We can be very proud of what we have collectively achieved.

Nick Gardner - UNOPS Country Manager in Sierra Leone

During a speech at the ceremony, Sierra Leone’s Minister of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, Memunatu Pratt, praised the efforts of the teams supporting the project’s implementation.  

“I would like to recognize and thank UNOPS for the job well done in protecting the site. I hope and pray that a disaster of such nature will never occur in our beloved Mama Salone,” she said. 

“The lives lost came from every corner of this country which reinforced it as a national disaster and calamity. Based on the advice of UNOPS, the government took the decision together with partners to demolish the remaining structures, paid compensations to many beneficiaries and cleared as much debris as possible to restore the environment,” she added.

During her visit to Sierra Leone, Ms. Mohammed was joined by Mohamed Ibn Chambas, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS); Hannah Tetteh, Special Representative of the Secretary-General to the African Union and Head of the United Nations Office to the African Union (UNOAU); and Babatunde A. Ahonsi, the UN Resident Coordinator in Sierra Leone.

The Deputy Secretary-General also travelled to Ghana, Mali, Nigeria and Niger, to explore how communities can build resilience following natural disasters and health crises, including the COVID-19 pandemic. Ms. Mohammed joined governments, development partners and civil society organizations to explore options to mobilize international support in areas critical to building a more sustainable and inclusive future for Africa and the world. 

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