• Lauren Jarrad

Professor Lee Miles supports Freetown in building resilience following catastrophic fire

Professor Lee Miles, Professor of Crisis and Disaster Management at BU, has provided training for local disaster managers in Freetown, Sierra Leone less than two months after a catastrophic fire in the city.

In March 2021, fire engulfed the Susan’s Bay community in Ward 427 in Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone. The fire affected the homes and livelihoods of over 7,000 people and required a national-level disaster response.

Professor Miles has been a leading contributor to a dedicated international training initiative to further train local disaster managers following the fire.

In May 2021, he led research-informed professional practice exercises for disaster managers, responders, councillors and members of the Community Disaster Management Committees (CDMCs) and People with Disability (PWDs) of Susan’s Bay at an internationally-funded workshop.

The workshop drew upon the AFRICAB (Driving African Capacity Building in Disaster Management) project, directed by Bournemouth University’s Disaster Management Centre (BUDMC) and funded by the UK’s Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF).

One of the findings of AFRICAB was clear deficits in locally accessible risk management tools and guidance, which led to an AFRICAB-produced Facilitators Guide to Disaster Management, co-authored with Freetown City Council and Sierra Leone’s National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA).

The Susan’s Bay workshop was co-ordinated by Freetown City Council, and involved important international NGOs, including CONCERN, Handicap International and the Sierra Leone Red Cross Society, as well as national responders such as the National Fire Force.

The workshop represents an urgent capacity-building initiative given the vulnerability of Susan’s Bay to further disasters and challenges.

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