Caritas Freetown Rallying for Funds to Support Victims of Sierra Leone’s Deadly Floods

Flood damage in Freetown, Sierra Leone, 31 August 2022. Credit: Office of the Mayor of Freetown

Caritas Freetown in Sierra Leone is rallying for support to help tens of thousands of victims of deadly floods that hit communities in the country’s Western region, leaving scores dead in their wake.

In a Wednesday, August 31 interview with ACI Africa, Caritas Freetown Executive Director, Fr. Peter Konteh, said that the floods, which occurred from August 14 to 17 and between August 27 and 28 had caused a lot of devastation to the locals, rendering more than 10,000 people in some communities homeless.

Fr. Konteh told ACI Africa that Caritas Freetown Disaster Response Team had swung into action, and that as of August 31, was completing an assessment of disaster-affected communities within the region. 

He said that the assessment was to attract as much support as possible to the victims of the floods in roughly 20 communities that had been affected by the two separate flooding incidents and mudslides.

“We are sharing our initial assessment with trusted partners for the aim of collaboration. If any organization is able and willing to collaborate on any of the affected areas at this time, a joint assessment will further investigate these challenges and guide partner response,” Fr. Konteh said.


The assessment that Fr. Konteh shared with ACI Africa show that 18 communities in Sierra Leone’s Western region were affected in the first flooding incident.  Out of these, Culvert, a low land slum community in the east of Freetown was the worst hit with 2,400 people, representing 85 percent of the slum community’s total population being rendered homeless.

Thousands of people in other communities in the region were also left homeless in the wake of the first flooding incident that also damaged bridges, schools, hospitals and water supply pipes in the various communities.

The second calamity between August 27 and 28 was the deadliest and most disastrous, leaving six residents of Looking Town dead and scores in other communities injured and homeless. In Culvert community alone, 12,000 people were affected when torrential downpour left houses clogged in mud, electricity poles fallen, descending boulders, among a series of other damages.

Most urgent on the list of proposed ways to respond to the needs of the affected people is the need to provide relief items including blankets, mattresses, clothing, foot wears, bucket, toiletries, flash lights and First Aid items. There is also an urgent need to relocate those that have been left homeless owing to the floods and mudslides.

Those whose houses have been damaged and covered in mud also need repair and cleaning services, according to the assessment conducted by Caritas Freetown.

More in Africa

Pregnant women, lactating mothers, adolescent girls and adult women also need dignity kits.

Lauding the charity entity’s Disaster Response Team for the quick response to the flooding crisis, Fr. Konteh said, “Caritas believes in being as ready as is possible to respond to emergencies by building preparedness and resilience. Stronger communities are able to resist repeated natural disasters.”

He added, in reference to Caritas Freetown, “When disaster strikes, it acts quickly and effectively to provide food and shelter, clean water and sanitation, medical help and the comfort of counseling to the bereaved and bereft.”

The Caritas Freetown Executive Director said that members of his team have local knowledge and expertise, “often built up over decades”.

In the August 31 interview with ACI Africa, Fr. Konteh blamed the frequent natural disasters in Sierra Leone on destruction of the environment and poor housing in the area.


“People have been building in wrong places, thereby inhibiting the natural flow of water when it rains. There has also been massive deforestation, leaving the land bare and susceptible to flooding,” the Sierra Leonean Catholic Priest said, adding that it is slum dwellers who reside down slopes that are most affected when it rains torrentially in the Freetown municipality.

A survey conducted by Caritas Freetown in Culvert, in particular, indicates that the slum neighborhood is “exposed to piles of waste, diseases and malaria especially during the rains.”

True to its name, the slum residence is congested with clogged drainages and shallow landscape.

According to the Caritas Freetown report shared with ACI Africa, the community experiences flooding when the drains and culverts are clogged with trash and human activities that block the drainages with waste material up the hill sides.

When it rains, water washes through and down the coastal slum of Culvert and other coastal slum communities.

(Story continues below)

“All the trash and leftovers are dumped into the drainage causing it to clog and subsequently causing flooding when there is the slightest downpour,” the report indicates.

Despite many studies conducted and shared by Caritas Freetown, little is done by the government to provide a sustainable solution to the flooding in the western region of Sierra Leone, Fr. Konteh lamented during the August 31 interview.

Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.