Lee Miles, Professor of Crisis and Disaster Management and Deputy Dean of the Business School visited Sierra Leone last week to undertake influential research and professional practice activities with the country’s governmental institutions responsible for preparing for, responding to, and recovering from disasters. These include Sierra Leone’s National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA) and Freetown City Council (FCC).
As part of the Research England funded EVALDIS (Evaluating Local Disaster Management in Sierra Leone) project, Professor Miles applied Single Points of Failure techniques to provide a research evidence base to help the National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA).
The Agency, launched in November 2020, is refining its newly launched regional capacity. This has included the appointment of regional officers and the creation of offices across all five provinces of the country this year.
During his time in Freetown, Professor Miles, organised and ran an EVALDIS-related focus group workshop with the recently appointed NDMA Provisional Coordinators followed by a presentation of EVALDIS preliminary findings to the entire leadership of NDMA.
Alongside this, Professor Miles also presented key reflections on the EVALDIS project to the Climate Action and Disaster Risk Management Unit (CADRMU) of Freetown City Council.
The contribution of Professor Miles was not restricted to research activities and dissemination.
‘Putting disaster management research and learnings into practice not only helps to improve the validity of disaster management scholarship now. Undertaking disaster management practice also ensures that any further research will be shaped to have major impact and resonance in the future,’ he said.
He has been an active contributor to the national disaster management response arrangements coordinated by the NDMA and also participates in the emergency response group mechanisms of Freetown City Council, including responding to the catastrophic Susan’s Bay fire disaster of March 2021 and the Wellington Fuel Tanker explosion in November 2021.
During his visit, Professor Miles attended the intra-pillar meeting at the NDMA that coordinates national risk reduction, preparedness and response to crises and disasters affecting the nation of Sierra Leone.
The work of Professor Miles has been widely acknowledged. The Director-General of the NDMA, Lt Gen (Rtd) Brima Bureh Sesay recently commented:
‘The commitment of Professor Miles to the development of the Agency and the disaster management systems of Sierra Leone has been exceptional. He has been willing to provide immediate guidance and advice as well as insightful policy help to the officials of the Agency not just during normal business times, but also at their greatest times of need during the onset of disasters and emergencies. He has, in my view, contributed substantially to the activities of the Agency in helping to save lives and property across Sierra Leone during very difficult and challenging times’.
The formal publication of the EVALDIS Final Report will take place in Freetown in early 2023.