Two-Day FPIC, Land Rights Training For Civil Society Orgs and Oil Palm Affected Communities Open In Monrovia

A two – day capacity building workshop for Oil Palm Affected Communities and Civil Society Organizations in Free, Prior Inform Consent and Land Rights has opened in the Liberian capital, Monrovia with call on participants to pay keen attention to lessons being taught for the benefit of their respective communities.

Conference Participants
Conference Participants

The theme of the workshop is: “Improved Technical Capacity of CSOs To Effectively Engage In The Oil Palm Sector”.

According to our Monrovia correspondent, the workshop which is organized by the Civil Society Oil Palm Working Group (CSO-OPWG) is sponsored by Tropenbos International and Rights & Resources Initiative. Participants were drawn from 6 counties where oil palm concessions are actively taking place. The counties include Maryland, Grand Kru, Sinoe, Grand Bassa, Bomi, and Grand Cape Mount.

Social Entrepreneurs for Sustainable Development’s Coordinator, Daniel Krakue said the objective of the FPIC and Land Rights training is to empower local civil society actors and community leadership on how to engage oil palm companies on basic human rights principles in line with FPIC and community land rights, which focuses on the newly passed Land Rights Law for the general good of the communities. “The main objective of the workshop is to build the capacity of CSOs working in the oil palm sector in basic  human rights principles and community land rights”, Mr. Krakue said.

Speaking on the importance of the FPIC process, Mina Beyan said, FPIC is an international legal standard that is protected by both Liberia’s national law and the legally binding human rights treaties to which Liberia is a party.

She said, during FPIC process, communities have a right to decide their own future, and not for someone to decide for them relating to the usage of their lands. According to her, FPIC is covered under both national and international instruments which protect or provide clear guidelines for communities during negotiation for land for concession purposes.

The Environmental Protection Agency of Liberia and the Liberia Land Authority are both serving as facilitators for the training. Also making presentations are Chris Kidd of Forest Peoples’ Programme (FPP) and James G. Otto of the Sustainable Development Institute (SDI).

The introduction of FPIC and land rights training in the Liberian oil palm sector would not have come at better time when affected communities and civil society organizations are struggling to combat non compliance to social agreements and illegal clearing of vast forest land by concession companies mainly Golden Veroleum and Sime Darby.

The processes leading to these concessions have been described by right groups including Global Witness as illegal and detrimental to communities. For instance, Liberian Land Rights Act encourages the allocation of land for concession purposes for 50 years. But the agreement with GVL says 65 years while the agreement with Sime Darby is 63 years.

In addition, these agreements do not meet the principles and criteria of the Round Table Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and Free, Prior Inform Consent (FPIC), which are internationally agreed standards for operating oil palm concession. With the coming into play of the FPIC and RSPO, it is expected that communities will not be forced into inducement, coercion, intimidation or manipulation during negotiation of land for concession purposes.

By Paul M. Kanneh reporting from Monrovia, Liberia

Correspondent, African Star

 

 

 

 

New Ebola Virus Found In Bats In Sierra Leone.

A new Ebola virus has been found in bats in Sierra Leone, two years after the end of an outbreak that killed over 11 000 across West Africa, the government said on Thursday.

It is not yet known whether the new Bombali species of the virus – which researchers say could be transmitted to humans – can develop into the deadly Ebola disease.

The AFP quotes a Sierra Leonen Health ministry official Amara Jambai as saying, “At this time, it is not yet known if the Bombali Ebola virus has been transmitted to people or if it causes disease in people but it has the potential to infect human cells.”

“This is early stages of the findings,” Jambai added, calling on the public to remain calm while awaiting further research.

A health ministry spokesperson and a researcher who worked on the discovery confirmed the findings to AFP.

Researchers who found the new virus in the northern Bombali region are now working with the Sierra Leone government to determine whether any humans were infected.

“As precautionary measures, people should refrain from eating bats,” Harold Thomas, health ministry spokesperson told AFP.

CDC -Ebola workers
Ebola Workers

The worst-ever Ebola outbreak started in December 2013 in southern Guinea before spreading to two neighbouring west African countries, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

The West African outbreak was caused by the Zaire species, which has historically been the most deadly in humans since it was first identified in 1976.

That outbreak killed more than 11 300 people out of nearly 29 000 registered cases, according to World Health Organisation estimates.

The WHO declared the epidemic over in January this year, but this was followed by flare-ups in all three countries.

AFP 

 

Nigeria: UK Court Deals A Blow To Oil Spill Victims And Corporate Accountability

Amnesty International (AI) says, responding to a Court of Appeals judgment that two Niger Delta communities cannot have their case against oil giant Shell heard in the UK because the parent company cannot be held liable for the actions of its Nigerian subsidiary.

Shell_logoAccording to a statement quoting  Joe Westby, Amnesty International’s Campaigner on Business and Human Rights, “With this ruling the court has struck a blow not only to the Ogale and Bille communities, who live everyday with the devastating consequences of Shell oil spills, but with victims of corporate human rights abuses all over the world. This ruling sets a dangerous precedent and will make it more difficult to hold UK companies to account.

“The idea that powerful multinationals are not responsible for the conduct of their subsidiaries overseas has allowed Shell to evade accountability for a raft of shocking human rights abuses spanning decades. This is a textbook example of the almost insurmountable obstacles to justice faced by people who take on powerful multinationals.

Map of Nigeria
Map of Nigeria

“Internal Shell documents show that the company’s headquarters have known full well for decades about the massive oil pollution caused by their operations in Nigeria, and have chosen not to stop it. If Shell cannot be held to account for such well-documented abuses, what hope is there of bringing other companies to justice?

“The communities will now be taking their fight for justice to the Supreme Court – this could be their last chance to see their environment restored.”

Background

Shell Protests - NigeriaThe Ogale and Bille communities brought two separate legal claims against both Royal Dutch Shell plc (RDS) and its 100% owned Nigerian subsidiary, the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC) in 2016.

Today’s decision rejected the communities’ appeal against a January 2017 ruling that RDS could not be held liable for the actions of SPDC. In a split decision, a panel of three judges ruled that the claim could not proceed.

Amnesty International

Eurasia Group 2018 Risks Group: Africa

The Eurasia Group has released its 2018 Top Risks Group which includes Africa. The following is an in-depth analysis for Africa.

Africa
Africa

THE “AFRICA RISING” NARRATIVE REMAINS APPEALING, but this year will face a new challenge. The continent’s core countries (Cote d’Ivoire, Nigeria, Kenya, and Ethiopia, among others) have recently demonstrated robust investment climates, and they’ve been generally sealed off from the troubles of the “periphery” (Mali, South Sudan, Somalia, etc.). But in 2018, negative spillover from Africa’s unstable periphery will increasingly spoil the continent’s success stories.

The threat lies in security risks: militancy and terrorism. The dangers posed by Al Shabaab in East Africa and Al Qaeda in West Africa are not new, but they’re set to intensify. Despite losing territory in 2017, Al Shabaab is still carrying out successful one-off surprise attacks and will look to more international targets in 2018. The Islamic State is likely to increase activity in West Africa and expand into East Africa as it is pushed from traditional strongholds in the Middle East.

Boko Haram Fighters
Boko Haram Fighters

Countries targeted by militancy and terrorism are more vulnerable than they’ve been in years, and external partners are less able to provide unified support.
Target countries are more vulnerable than they’ve been in years, and external partners are less able to mount a united front of support. Local actors in “core” countries are already suffering from weakened political capacity. Kenya’s government will focus on economic recovery after a prolonged election cycle. Nigeria enters an election season with uncertainty over its current leader’s health. South Africa faces internal political strife. Angola is busy with a fresh leadership transition. Mozambique is still struggling with a years-long debt scandal.

Foreign partners who have helped stabilize weak governments in the past are distracted. In the east, a preoccupied Europe has reduced its salary support for troops of the UN-mandated African Union Mission to Somalia operating in the Al Shabaab hotspot. Across the Sahel, the G5 counterterrorism partnership of Chad, Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali, and Mauritania plans to launch a 5,000-strong force in March 2018. But differences among France, the US, and UN officials will slow the necessary funding, leaving the region at risk, despite an injection of financial support from Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

The growing fragility of Africa’s top performers has several implications. Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda, and Ethiopia face increased security costs at a time when their governments need to reduce spending. A spike in attacks would also undermine foreign investment perceptions already shaken by the election-related violence in Kenya, a growing social protest movement in Ethiopia, and presidential succession uncertainties in Nigeria and Uganda.

Naira-The-Trent
Nairas

Foreign investors may see their assets directly targeted. Tourist and energy installations will be especially at risk. This will put downward pressure on FDI into the continent, leaving development reliant on limited local capital. And the pressure of security-related refugee flows—on countries in the region and in Europe—will not abate, creating a headache for policymakers on both sides of the Mediterranean.

About EURASIA GROUP: 

According to its website, the Eurasia Group says it connects geopolitics and business to provide valuable strategic and operational insights. Its combination of strategy consulting methodologies, deep industry sector coverage, and best-in-class country expertise is applied to areas including:

Risk-adjusted market assessment, market prioritization, and market entry planning

Political risk assessment and messaging strategy

M&A macro risk due diligence

Enterprise risk management & process design support

Strategic risk identification and monitoring

Source: The Eurasia Group

 

Transparency Intl (TI) Urges Robust Mining Approval Process to Mitigate Corruption

Philadelphia, PA USA – Transparency International (TI), an organization dedicated to the global coalition against corruption, in a just released report entitled Combatting Corruption in Mining Approvals: Assessing the Risks in 18 Resource-Rich Nations  details how corruption can get a foothold in mining approvals processes before ground is even broken.

Mining
Mining

TI defines corruption as “the abuse of entrusted power for private gain” and furthers adds that this  recognizes that all actors in the mining approvals process – not just government officials-have the potential to engage in corrupt conduct.

TI, in its report, also listed examples from a range of diverse countries and identities including some in Africa, important roles for government, the mining industry and civil society to identify, prevent and mitigate these risks.

In order to understand  and identify the corruption risks in the mining sector of the countries examined, TI urged the following questions be asked:

  1. Who benefits from mining approval decisions?
  2. How ethical and fair is the process for opening land to mining?
  3. How fair and transparent is the licensing process?
  4. Who get the right to mine?
  5. How accountable are companies for their environmental and social impacts and
  6. How meaning is community consultations?  The 102 page report, TI utilized what it refers to as the Mining Award Corruption Risk Assessment (MACRA) tool which undertakes a rigorous and consistent approach to identifying and assessing corruption risks in various contexts.
  7. The steps in the tool include:
  8. Defining the assessment
  9. Mapping the approvals process and practice and identifying vulnerabilities
  10. Analyzing the approvals context and identifying vulnerabilities
  11. Determining priority corruption risks for action and
  12. Assessing corruption risks and validation of the assessment.

The TI  report details the top seven risks from the MACRA tool and standings of some African countries which undertook risk assessments.

  1. What is the risk that community leaders negotiating with a mining company will not represent community members’ interest? Kenya, South African and Zimbabwe were listed a “very high” in the report.
  2. What is the risk that mining laws have been, or will be, if reform is planned, written to favor private interests before the public interest? Zimbabwe was listed as “very high” while Liberia was assessed as part of a group of risks.
  3. Assuming consultation with communities or land holders is required, what is the risk that negotiations for landholders or community agreements can be manipulated? Kenya and Sierra Leone were listed as “very high”.
  4. What is the risk that criteria for awarding licenses, etc will not be publicly knowable? Kenya, South Africa and Sierra Leone were listed as “very high”.
  5. What is the risk that applicants for licenses, etc will be controlled by undeclared beneficial owners? Zambia and Zimbabwe were rated as “very high” while Kenya was assessed as part of a group of risks.
  6. What is the risk that, in practice, that there is no due diligence on applicants claims regarding their capacity and financial resources? Kenya, Sierra Leone and Zimbabwe were listed as “very high”.

TI is urging governments, civil society and industries around the world to ask the following questions in their own countries, utilize their own examples and context to better understand the risks in their own context to building corruption- free mining processes.

 

Political and administrative context 1. Who benefits from mining approval decisions? Corruption is more likely to occur when:

  1. Regulations on political donations and lobbying are weak
  2. The real owners or beneficiaries of licence applicants are not disclosed
  3. Senior public officials don’t declare assets or interests in mining companies
  4. Controls on revolving doors are inadequate
Land allocation 2. How ethical and fair is the process for opening land to mining? Corruption is more likely to occur when:

  1. Land rights are poorly protected and not properly registered
  2. Rules and criteria for opening land to mining are not clear or transparent
  3. Register of land rights is incomplete or uncoordinated with other land use registers
Mining licence application and approval 3. How fair and transparent is the licencing process? Corruption is more likely to occur when:

  1. Steps in the licencing process are unclear
  2. Information in the licence register is missing or not publicly available
  3. The licencing authority is under-resourced
  4. Decision-making criteria are unclear or decisions are vulnerable to ministerial interference
Environmental and social impact assessment 4. Who gets the right to mine? Corruption is more likely to occur when:

  1. Due diligence on licence applicants is inadequate
  2. Controls to deter licence stockpiling are ineffective
  3. Regulation and disclosure of licence transfers are weak
5. How accountable are companies for their environmental and social impacts? Corruption is more likely to occur when:

  1. Verification of ESIAs is inadequate
  2. Criteria for environmental approval decisions are not clear or transparent
  3. ESIA reports are not publicly available
  4. Enforcement of licence conditions is weak
Community consultation 6. How meaningful is community consultation? Corruption is more likely to occur when:

  1. Rules for consultation are not clear
  2. Consultation only occurs with local elites
  3. Information about the project or its potential impacts is not accessible to community members
  4. Community agreements are not publicly available

Some of the African countries listed in the TI report are taking steps to mitigate corruption risks as it relates to the land and mining sector.

Mining in Zimbabwe
Mining in Zimbabwe

Kenya has recently taken steps to protect customary land rights. South Africa has been working to streamline its mining approval process but not without  some lingering bureaucratic hurdles. Zimbabwe is moving to install an online presence to ensure accuracy and ease of application in the mining sector.

Zambia has opportunities to de-politicize the mining committee to avoid undue influence and abuse from political appointees as is the case presently. Sierra Leone, in spite of legal requirements for the mining sector, has weak enforcement regimes which must be strengthened and include implementation of the Community Development Agreements which benefit local communities. Presently, the country’s National Minerals Agency is taking steps to be more transparent and is not publishing contracts on a dedicated website.

Conflict diamond
Conflict diamond

TI says governments, mining industries, the public must first understand the sources of corruption and then implement effective solutions and mitigating measures.

“Countries with robust approvals regimes can attract higher quality investments from major players who avoid corruption-prone jurisdictions, improve economic returns to their citizens and reduce rates of social conflict around mining projects,” the global corruption watchdog organization says.

 By Emmanuel Abalo

West African Journal Magazine

 

Amnesty International Statement On Ogoni Land Murder in Nigeria

Oil giant Shell has a case to answer for its role in human rights violations including murder, rape and torture committed by the Nigerian military government in the 1990s.

Shell_logo
Shell Logo

The victims were the Ogoni people, whose land has been devastated by pollution from Shell’s operations. When the Ogonis organized in peaceful protest, the Nigerian government unleashed a campaign of appalling violence against them.

Despite a raft of evidence linking Shell with the government’s actions, no company executive has ever been made to answer for its involvement.

The fact that Shell has never been held to account for this is an outrage, and one that sends a terrible message: if companies are rich and powerful enough, they can get away with anything.

So, for the first time, Amnesty International has brought together the available evidence to paint a damning picture of Shell’s role.

From 1990 onwards, Shell knew that its requests for the security forces to intervene in the Niger Delta were likely to result in human rights violations.

In 1990, Shell requested the assistance of a paramilitary police unit to deal with peaceful protesters at one of its facilities in Umuechem. The police attacked the village with guns and grenades, killing 80 people and torching 595 houses.

Despite this atrocity, Shell went back to the Nigerian government for help in dealing with community protests. A clear pattern began to emerge: over and over again, Shell asked the government to intervene, and these requests were soon followed by violence and death. For example:

A Shell memo shows that on 18 March 1993, Shell staff “pleaded” with the governor of Rivers State for a military guard while its contractors laid a pipeline.

On 30 April, the army responded to community protests against the new pipeline by shooting and wounding 11 villagers at Biara village.

Days later, on 4 May, Shell again asked the governor for “assistance”. That same day, troops opened fire on community protests at Nonwa village, killing one man.  Once again, a direct request from Shell led to human rights violations.

Then, a memo from 11 May 1993 shows that Shell managers met senior government and security officials in Abuja “to mobilise support at top government levels”. The head of the security service assured Shell that the Ogoni situation “would be over soon”.

Two months later, the military incited and participated in a new wave of armed attacks on Ogonis.

Ogoni land protest
Ogoni land Protest

Despite these violations, it was Shell’s policy to provide security forces with logistical support.

A 1995 statement from Shell Nigeria’s then-chair Brian Anderson explained that it was company policy at the time to provide the Nigerian government with logistical support – including the use of its boats, buses and helicopters.

Sometimes Shell’s assistance directly facilitated human rights violations. For example, in October 1993 the company provided the army’s transport to Korokoro village, when troops opened fire on protesters.

Shell had no qualms about repeatedly offering logistical support to security forces it knew were committing human rights violations.

Shell even paid money to a military unit responsible for violence.

In December 1993, shortly after a military coup, Shell wrote to the new military administrator of Rivers State, highlighting the economic consequences of protests and naming communities, including in Ogoniland, where protests had occurred.

One month later, the military administrator created the new Internal Security Task Force (ISTF), under the command of Major Paul Okuntimo.

The ISTF began carrying out human rights violations almost immediately. On 21 February 1994, soldiers under Major Okuntimo’s command shot at thousands of people who were peacefully demonstrating outside Shell’s main compound.

Then, on 3 March 1994, Shell paid Major Okuntimo and 25 of his men an “honorarium”. An internal Shell memo explained that the payment was a “show of gratitude and motivation for a sustained favourable disposition towards [Shell] in future assignments”.

Shortly afterwards, the ISTF began a campaign of brutal raids in Ogoniland – killing, raping and torturing villagers.

Shell knew all about these human rights violations.

Major Okuntimo boasted of these raids on television, and they were widely reported. In July that year, the Dutch ambassador told Shell that the army had killed some 800 Ogonis.

Shell also had insider knowledge. Company executives met regularly with top government officials, and discussed the government strategy for dealing with the Ogoni protests.

Shell raised the Ogoni and Ken Saro-Wiwa as a “problem”.

Map of Nigeria
Map of Nigeria

The Ogoni crisis culminated in the executions of the “Ogoni Nine” by the Nigerian state. Among them was Ken Saro-Wiwa, a famous writer and leader of protests by the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP).

Evidence shows that, at the peak of the crackdown in Ogoniland, Shell provided encouragement and motivation to the military authorities to stop the MOSOP protests, and specifically named Ken Saro-Wiwa.

A memo describes how, at a meeting with President Sani Abacha on 30 April 1994, Brian Anderson raised “the problem of the Ogonis and Ken Saro-Wiwa”.

Anderson reported that he came away from the meeting with the sense that Abacha “will intervene with either the military or the police.”

Indeed, within a month Ken Saro-Wiwa and other MOSOP leaders had been arrested, unfairly accused of involvement in murder, and held without charge.

The men were tortured and ill-treated in detention, before being found guilty in a sham trial and executed on 10 November 1995. The detailed records show that Shell knew the trial would be unfair and Ken Saro-Wiwa found guilty; but there is no indication in the available evidence of Shell trying to persuade the Nigerian military government to follow a less violent path in Ogoniland.

Conclusion:

Shell’s conduct amounts to encouraging, and, at times, facilitating the horrific crimes and abuses committed by the Nigerian security forces in Ogoniland in the mid-1990s. The company, knowing that violence against local communities was almost certain to occur, asked for the security forces to deal with community protests. Shell provided logistical support to the army and police, repeatedly underlined to the Nigerian government how the country was financially dependent on oil, and even paid money to the security forces.

More Ogoni land Protestors in Nigeria
More Ogoni land Protestors in Nigeria

Shell has always strongly denied these allegations. But the evidence paints a shocking picture of a corporation putting its interests above all else. The key question is: if Shell had not acted as it did, and had not pushed the Nigerian military and government, would so many people have been beaten, tortured, raped and killed?

Amnesty International is calling on the authorities in Nigeria, and Shell’s home states, the Netherlands and the UK, to launch a criminal investigation into the company’s role in the human rights violations committed by the Nigerian security forces.

Amnesty International Statement

Sierra Leone Mudslide Exposes Peril of Freetown’s Sprawl

Augustine Deen, a 31-year-old officer with the Sierra Leone Police Force, was on night duty at his post in Freetown, counting down the hours, when disaster struck.

Political Map of Sierra Leone
Political Map of Sierra Leone

In the early morning of August 14, a major mudslide hit Mount Sugarloaf, which overlooks the capital, slicing it in two. The collapse killed 400 people, with hundreds more still missing, and left an estimated 3,000 homeless.

Corpses floated in the floodwaters, while some families were forced to dig for the bodies of their loved ones under the rubble. Deen’s wife and six children back home in the Pentagon New Site slum on the mountain slopes survived, but his four brothers, sister-in-law and his nephew were killed.

Home to a little over 1 million people, according to a 2015 census, Freetown grew at the turn of the century as citizens in rural areas fled a decade-long civil war that ended in 2002.

The city was originally designed to house about 300,000 people, and it’s now struggling to meet basic needs for housing, electricity, sewage and water, said Jamie Hitchen, a policy researcher at the London-based Africa Research Institute.

Homes are being built in areas identified as “at risk,” and despite the creation of an European Union-funded Freetown Development Plan in 2014, city planning has been given little priority, he added.

FILE - A World Food Program tent is seen at an internally displaced persons camp in Regent, Sierra Leone, Aug. 21, 2017.

FILE – A World Food Program tent is seen at an internally displaced persons camp in Regent, Sierra Leone, Aug. 21, 2017.

“So far the government’s response to annual floods has been superficial and short-term,” Hitchen told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “Urban management problems are one of the major causes, along with deforestation and climate change.”

Freetown, initially designed by colonial-era British administrators, has been plagued by heavy rains and flooding yearly since 2008.

Its many slums and informal settlements are built high on mountain slopes, leaving tens of thousands of inhabitants vulnerable to death and displacement when the rains come.

Builders have encroached into protected forest areas on the hills behind the city, causing soil erosion — a phenomenon that contributed to the August landslide.

Officials at Freetown City Council said there are laws to prevent illegal construction, but these are often flouted or permits obtained through bribery.

In 2014, the Sierra Leone Urban Research Center carried out an environmental assessment to map areas at risk of flooding, but the government did not act on it.

FILE - Victims of the August mudslide are gathered in a queue at an internally displaced persons camp in Regent, Sierra Leone, Aug. 21, 2017.

FILE – Victims of the August mudslide are gathered in a queue at an internally displaced persons camp in Regent, Sierra Leone, Aug. 21, 2017.

“Over the years, many people were displaced by crises, including the … civil war, so many people escaped to the city and built houses in areas where they shouldn’t,” said Cornelius Deveaux, deputy minister of information.

Cheap but risky

High levels of poverty, however, are putting slum communities at risk of disasters.

In a country where GDP per capita is $1,400 and 60 percent of people live on less than $1.25 a day, according to U.N. data, having a home is judged as more important than safety.

Parts of the Regent area where the August disaster happened remain at risk of further landslides and flooding, but many residents say they have nowhere else to go.

“The closer to the mountain you go, the cheaper [it is] to rent houses for your family,” said Salim Bangura, 38, who lives with his wife in Congo Town slum.

“Some of us don’t have electricity, but we need a roof over our head as we struggle to make ends meet,” said Bangura, who gets by peddling food and household goods.

He and his neighbors know that in a pre-election year, politicians may make promises of mass housing to get them to move, but they have been offered nothing yet.

“This is the only life we know,” he said.

FILE - A nongovernmental organization distributes meals to victims of August mudslide at the internally displaced persons camp in Regent, Sierra Leone, Aug. 19, 2017.

FILE – A nongovernmental organization distributes meals to victims of August mudslide at the internally displaced persons camp in Regent, Sierra Leone, Aug. 19, 2017.

Camps to close

All eight members of Deen’s family are living in a small tent in Juba camp, alongside nearly 500 people who lost their homes in the mudslide.

Food, clothing and medicine come mostly from relief agencies including the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA), which has refurbished the only health center near the disaster zone.

Kim Eva Dickson, UNFPA head in Sierra Leone, said it was providing women and girls with antenatal care, ultrasound scans, mother and baby kits, and personal hygiene supplies.

Among disaster-hit communities living in temporary shelters, “the risks of unwanted pregnancies … sexually transmitted diseases and gender-based violence increases,” she said.

The government, meanwhile, has provided counseling for the bereaved still grieving over lost relatives and possessions.

Public resources were stretched thin by the 2014-16 Ebola outbreak that killed over 4,000 people in Sierra Leone. But the government is giving cash totaling about $171 to each family affected by the mudslide, with the last payment due in November.

It plans to close the two formal camps in mid-November, leaving their more than 2,000 residents with a choice of taking cash payments or moving to new homes being built for them.

Households that opt for cash will each get about $284 to help them rebuild their lives — enough to rent a one-bedroom apartment in downtown Freetown for a year.

FILE - A boy walks past a water supply point at an internally displaced persons camp in Regent, Sierra Leone. Aug. 21, 2017.

FILE – A boy walks past a water supply point at an internally displaced persons camp in Regent, Sierra Leone. Aug. 21, 2017.

The government has an agreement with local companies to construct 53 houses on the outskirts of the city for displaced families, and is in talks with other investors to build more homes for survivors.

This is separate from a long-term plan to create affordable housing for about 35,000 citizens in all, said Deveaux.

New homes shunned

Deen has heard the government is building free housing estates at 6 Mile on the outskirts of Freetown, but said there has been little information about the project.

Previous government action has made local people wary.

After floods in 2015, the government evicted 100 families living in Crab Town slum and moved them to a location about 20 kilometers (12 miles) from Freetown.

But they were back in the capital a couple of months later, having rented out their new homes, said Hitchen.

The new housing stock was better than in the slums, but the village lacked basic amenities, work opportunities were few and people were cut off from their community networks.

“We don’t want to go to somewhere without knowing what we are getting into,” said Deen.

VOA