Photo 1 – debris and clay washed into the sea, Photo 2 – damaged housing close to the river bank. © World Bank

Sometimes In August- Freetown

Bang! Bang!!……… This was the loud sound that woke the entire Freetown City in the wake of the morning at 6 a.m. A loud cry of people followed, desperate for news of missing family members. Victims will forever cry about their loss of loved ones and property in the hands of a cruel climate in the form of torrential rainfall and severe wind: and this story will remain to be the most devastating catastrophic event in the memory of Sierra Leoneans, and a child can narrate the entire story whenever asked to do so (Hayden,2021). 

So What Happened, Where and Why? 

Sierra Leone suffered its biggest natural calamity on August 14, 2017, at 6 a.m. local time, which will live on in the hearts of Sierra Leoneans forever. A disastrous landslide and flooding calamity caused by excessive rain slammed into Regent, a mountain village approximately 16 kilometres from the capital that stands between the Atlantic and the Pacific. This resulted in the destruction and damage of millions of dollars in buildings and infrastructure, as well as the claimed loss of thousands of lives (Al Jazeera, 2017). Prior to the tragedy, the high rate of development, along with the growing rate of deforestation, was a frequent threat to Freetown. In reality, the landslide happened within a forestry reserve that was under protection. However, throughout time, big houses were built, some illegally (without licenses) and others legitimately (with permits) (legally). Moreover, due to these two causes – house growth and deforestation – soil integrity has been impaired, as has the ability to absorb rain during heavy rains, raising the danger of disaster. Climate change has finally taken its toll on a fragile ecosystem (ReliefWeb, 2019).

Climate Change and What You Need to Know?

Long-term temperature shifts and weather patterns are referred to as climate change. Natural variability in the solar cycle may cause these changes. Furthermore, human activities have been the major players in climate change since the 1800s, mainly as a result of deforestation and the use of fossil fuels such as oil, coal, and gas (United Nations,2011). Consider the game of Tetris to better comprehend climate change. Using this analogy, we will study the carbon cycle, the greenhouse effect, and the environmental consequences of burning fossil fuels (Project Learning Tree,2019). Earth has been playing a variant of this game using carbon bricks for ages. Carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere by volcanoes, decomposing plant materials, breathing animals, and the sea’s surface. When plants utilize these elements during photosynthesis, absorbed back into the ocean, or deposited in soil and sediment, they leave the atmosphere.

“Climate change is real. It is happening right now, it is the most urgent threat facing our entire species and we need to work collectively together and stop procrastinating.” Leonardo Di Caprio

What is the connection to climate change?

Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere traps a portion of the sun’s heat that would otherwise escape into space. Carbon dioxide is classified as a greenhouse gas because it provides a blanket of warmth known as the greenhouse effect, which keeps our planet from freezing like Mars (US EPA, 2015). The warmer the earth grows, the more carbon dioxide bricks linger in the atmosphere waiting to be removed. Though the quantity of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere fluctuates due to ice ages and asteroid strikes, the climate we know now evolved over 8,000 years, allowing human civilization to flourish (Climate Change: Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide | NOAA, 2020). However, roughly 30 years ago, we began digging up that old carbon that had been contained in the soil such as coal, oil, and natural gas which are fossil fuels created from the buried remnants of plants and animals that died before humans existed. Our industries, autos, and power plants were able to run on the energy contained within them. Unfortunately, burning this fuel releases new carbon blocks, similar to a Tetris game on Earth. Furthermore,  We destroyed forests for agriculture at the same time, decreasing the earth’s capacity to remove the blocks. More notably, since 1970, the carbon footprint in the atmosphere has expanded by 90% and shows no signs of abating.(US EPA, 2016). 

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which employs over 1,300 experts worldwide, a temperature rise of 2.5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit is expected during the next century. They also conclude that the extent of climate change implications is significant. 2020 (

“We can act now by paying the bills or live to pay the dire consequences.”- Foday David Kamara

              Image from United Nations Climate Action

“Climate Change tops the list of people’s concerns. We must listen- and we must act.” 

ANTONIO GUTERRES, UN Secretary-General, November 01, 2021.

The Paris Agreement (PA) aims to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius and closer to 1.5 degrees Celsius than pre-industrial levels. This necessitates a drastic shift in policy across the board, as evidenced by their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) pledges. Sierra Leone is classified as one of the least competent countries in the world to adapt to climate change; thus, such a call to action for climate change mitigation is very important. The country is susceptible to the adverse effects of climate change, with an increasing number of people in danger of catastrophic occurrences and severe economic consequences. This reality informs proposals made in the Medium-Term National Development Plan (MTNDP) of the country for 2019, which emphasizes the importance of aligning environmental, climate, and economic development plans to stage proactive efforts to mitigate global warming’s causes and assist vulnerable citizens in both rural and urban settings to effectively adapt to climate change over the long term (NDC, 2021).

So what Do We Do Now?  

  • Because of a lack of understanding of climate change concerns, longer-term training in vulnerability and adaptation assessment, as well as building national communications and retaining talent, is required.
  • The establishment of national climate change committees is required;
  • It is necessary to enhance national institutions in order for them to take on the task of building GCMs at acceptable sizes.
  • The institutional structure for adaptations implementation must be improved.

Climate change has become a significant component of our present civilization, and we are at a pivotal point in its development, from unpredictable weather, which has an impact on food production and livelihood, to rising sea levels, which raise the potential of a catastrophic disaster. Climate change and its consequences extend beyond natural bounds to global scope and size previously unimagined. It will be more difficult and expensive to adjust to these repercussions in the future if meaningful mitigation steps are not done today. And no one will be around to recount the tale.


Africa and Climate Change – Our World. (2020). 

A preventable disaster: Landslides and flooding disaster in Freetown, Sierra Leone – Sierra Leone. (2019, May 6). ReliefWeb. table-disaster-landslides-and-flooding-disaster-freetown-sierra-leone   

Climate Change: Meaning, Definition, Causes, Examples And Consequences – Youmatter. (2020, April 27). Youmatter.  

Earth Now – Climate Change: Vital Signs of the Planet. (2021).  

Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions Data | US EPA. (2016, January 12). US EPA.,increase%20from%201970%20to%202011. 

Hayden, S. (2021, November 10). Survivors of mudslide in Freetown still suffering four years on. The Irish Times; The Irish Times.  

Jazeera, A. (2017, August 22). Sierra Leone mudslide: What, where and why?; Al Jazeera. 

National Determine Contributions. (2021). Updated NDC Report.  ‌   

Overview of Greenhouse Gases | US EPA. (2015, December 23). US EPA.  

United Nations. (2020). ClimateChange | United Nations. United Nations; United Nations. 

United Nations. (2011). What Is Climate Change? | United Nations. United Nations; United Nations. 

Infographic Literature: