The UN has confirmed that hundreds of families affected by last month’s deadly mudslide on the peripheries of Sierra Leone’s capital Freetown are receiving aid in the form of mobile money.
The mudslide occurred in mid-August near the town of Regent. The disaster resulted in at least 500 deaths, and has made over 3000 people homeless, making it one of the worst such disasters in Africa for decades.
Britain’s Aid Department is providing mobile cash payments to around 1900 homes affected by the disaster, allowing families to relocate to safer areas as well as afford costs such as food, healthcare and continued education. The goal is to enable parents to keep their children at school and prevent them from having to sell any possessions in order to feed their families.
Guy Warrington, the British High Commissioner in Sierra Leone, said: “I am pleased that ... we are able to give money directly to those affected so they can decide what is best to meet their immediate needs and take steps to rebuild their lives.”
UNICEF has also supplied mobile phones to families to enable access to their payments, with each family able to receive around $200 over three months. Families that opt to resettle in another area will be entitled to a further $300 along with food vouchers supplied by the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP).
The WFP is providing rations of beans, rice, vegetable oil and salt to affected homes. UNICEF’s Sierra Leone representative Hamid El Bashir Ibrahim said “families have suffered, lives have been lost and property destroyed through these unprecedented disasters. The cash transfers could be a great relief ... as they will provide a lifeline.”
Sierra Leone has a population of 6 million and is one of the poorest countries in the world. The former British colony was devastated during the 2014-16 Ebola outbreak, which claimed around 4000 lives in the country.