Liberia: Rural Dwellers Alarm Fire Outbreak, Landslide; Call for Mitigation

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Buchanan – Though often caused by nature, some disasters have human influences that are often triggered by hazards. There are number of hazards affecting Liberia, among which are epidemics, flood, tropical storm, fire, tidal abnormalities, erosion, drought and land slide.

Reported by Willie N. Tokpah 00231777039231 [email protected]

Locals attending the second phase of traditional ‘word of mouth’ training on disaster management in Grand Bassa County on Wednesday, October 24, alarmed that fire outbreak and landslide are hazards that commonly affect most rural communities in Liberia.

The National Disaster Management Agency terms it as weather and tearing of the earth surface.

Unlike those caused by electrical faults or exposure of chemicals like gasoline, the locals said exposure to fire in the open space during the mid-day often leads to fire outbreak, which causes serious disasters to rural dwellers.

Bokomu District Commissioner in Gbarpolu County Anthony Yarsiah said the situation had resulted to the destruction of about 10 kitchens filled with harvest rice in some towns in the district.

“At this period in my county, the sun is severely high but I have informed everybody in my district to cut off every fire while they are not in town during the day hours. We have people in all the towns in Bokomu to guide that process,” Commissioner Yarsiah told FrontPageAfrica.

“Three days ago, in one of our towns, 10 rice kitchens burnt down by this same fire problem. Some because people left the fire under the kitchen and went to their farms and the fire caught the kitchen; they lost everything including their harvested rice. So this training will help us,” Commissioner Yarsiah stated.

According to him, the challenges they are currently faced with are getting the people together to tell them what to do to avoid these problems.

He named illicit mining as another major factor affecting the people and that could lead to landslide in the county if care is not taken.

Commissioner Yarsiah asserted that illicit mining in the county is undermining forest land and resulting to death of people especially those who are involved.

“This is a serious problem because people die in the process and we want government to put in place mechanisms that will stop illicit minings,” Yarsiah added.

“We also want the Forestry Development Authority (FDA) to increase their rangers in Gbarpolu forests because rangers in the Gola National Park are not enough to stop illicit miners and hunters.”

Totoquelleh Town Chief Emmanuel Jangaba Gbassay also noted that most of the houses in his town are substandard and are often affected by heavy rainfall and other natural occurrences.

Chief Gbassay also said that roadblock caused by erosion and flood sometimes impede emergency situation involving people seriously ill.

“Most of the houses in my town are substandard and are always affected by storm and wind. Whenever it rains, water undermines the mud-houses, because they are not built with concrete,” Gbassay stated.

“Sometimes, heavy rainfall will lead to streams over flooding, causing roadblocks for us. We have to wait two to three days for the water to come down before traveling that particular route.

As a result, if someone is seriously sick and you want to take them to Bopolu City for treatment, they sometimes died along the way.”

Chief Gbassay emphasized the need that locals pay key interests in educating rural dwellers on disaster management and control.

However, he revealed that locals have been controlling flood through the opening of drainages, but this method becomes worthless during heavy down poll of rain.

For her part, the Paramount Chief of Compound Three in Grand Bassa County, Madam Mondayma Roberts, said people of her area have missed up on the timeline for agriculture activities which had been hampering productivity in the area.

With knowledge of disaster management, Madam Roberts said, locals will be educated on planting their crops before the Rainy Season.

“When I go, I will tell my people not to make farms during the Rainy Season, because when they make farms, the rain will spoil the crops,” Madam Roberts stressed.

At the same time, a Paramount Chief from Grand Cape Mount County, Haji Somba, said erosion is a major problem affecting his chiefdom.

But with the training, he has promised to educate his people not to cut big trees along the sea and river bank.

“In Kru Town, Robertsport City, the sea can embarrass people who are living there. The lake can also get flooded and make people to move from one place to another,” Somba stated.

Meanwhile, Disaster Management Agency Deputy Executive Director Augustine F. Tamba said local leaders’ roles in disseminating disaster management information are very important.

“It is better that we prevent situations before they go out of hand. By adapting a sound approach, disaster will not occur easily,” Tamba averred.

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