Two days of heavy rains in mid-August 2017 led to extensive flooding and a massive mudslide when a hillside collapsed into a densely populated neighbourhood of Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone. As of August 21, more than 500 people were confirmed dead, with hundreds still missing. Close to half of the dead and missing were children. The mudslide affected approximately 20,000 people, with at least 300 homes completely or severely damaged.
The mudslide occurred in a neighbourhood primarily populated by the region’s poorest and most vulnerable people, with many living in nothing more than shanties. What little access to the basic necessities the area had completely collapsed, resulting in a lack of safe drinking water, sanitation services, warm clothing and primary health, increasing the risk of an outbreak of highly communicable diseases such as cholera, dysentery or typhoid.
CARE Canada intervened to provide safe water, sanitation facilities and hygiene services and improve survivors’ ability to meet their basic needs. Activities included:
• to distribute kits comprised of blankets, towels, flashlights, hygiene items and cooking utensils to 300 affected households
• to provide a $38 unconditional cash transfer to 150 of the most vulnerable households to assist them in meeting their immediate basic needs
• to provide safe water to 1,500 affected households for 60 days
• to conduct a health and hygiene awareness campaign to educate the population and help prevent the spread of waterborne diseases such as dysentery and cholera.