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Start Network responds rapidly to fill critical gap following Sierra Leone mudslides

  • by Helen James
  • 18 Aug 17

Image credit: Sarah Alex CAFOD

News Article

Thousands of vulnerable people in dire need following mudslides in Sierra Leone are to begin receiving urgent help today, following the decision yesterday by Start Network members to fund six rapid-response projects.

The Start Fund, designed to fill critical gaps by enabling aid agencies to respond early and fast to emergencies, has approved £355,262 of funding to six agencies and their partners working on the ground. The funding will be used to provide urgent assistance for thousands of the most vulnerable people who were affected when the mudslides hit communities already suffering from high levels of poverty, on the outskirts of Freetown, Sierra Leone’s capital.

The projects began implementing today and will include:

  • The provision of clean water to reduce the risk of outbreaks of waterborne diseases such as cholera
  • Psychosocial support provided to people who are injured
  • Cash grants to enable the most vulnerable families to buy what they need
  • Work to prevent further harm and loss, reducing the risks of another potential landslide and if the flooding worsens


Agencies raised an emergency alert on Tuesday, when they decided that the Start Fund’s ability to respond within 72 hours was needed to meet the basic needs of people affected.  Agencies agreed to activate the Start Fund on Wednesday and at a meeting held in Freetown on Thursday using a process of peer review, six projects were selected out of a possible nine.

Humanitarian staff from members of the Start Network, a global network of leading NGOs, met and selected projects led by CAFOD, Christian Aid, Tearfund, Handicap International, Care International and ActionAid. Those agencies are working around the clock with the local communities and partners to ensure live-saving responses reach the most vulnerable communities in Sierra Leone.

Following the crisis the country has appealed for international support, however funding in the international aid system often takes weeks to arrive. The Start Fund, which is managed by the Start Network, aims to fill gaps by providing funding quickly, within 72 hours of receiving a crisis alert.

Alessandra Gilotta, operations manager of the Start Fund said: “It is critical to act now to help mitigate further deterioration of this devastating situation. In a country that is recovering from the effects of Ebola, we must act quickly to reduce the risk waterborne diseases such as cholera, while putting measures in place to mitigate further harm and loss if another landslide hits. Speed is everything to save lives when a crisis hits and the Start Fund is there to respond early and bridge the gap in funding we see all too often in humanitarian crises”.

The Start Fund, supported by UK Aid (the UK Department for International Development), the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Irish Aid (the Irish Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade) and the European Commission's Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations department, has responded to 122 crises in more than 50 countries since it began in 2014.

Read more about the Start Fund.

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Start Network

  • by Helen James