Yeliboya Residents demonstrate willingness to relocate from a sinking island to a Safer Environment

By Ishmael Kindama Dumbuya

Yeliboya is a Community located in the Northern Kambia District, some few Miles from Kychom Township and the latter being the Samu Chiefdom Headquarter Town. From the afar and unto the entering the Island, one can deduce without even being told that it is an Island that is depreciating and measures should be taken in order to relocate residents in that area.


Upon arrival in the Yeliboya island, you can see some makeshift structures presumably waving at new comers and obvious awaiting the heavy waves and tides of the sea/river to be later washed away. Some of the Children can be seen playing football while others are busy attending to nature in the public eyes gazing at each other with stinking smell which they have already accustomed to.

The more the water waves keep flowing from one side to the other, the more it exposes the bareness of the old stumps of trees already washed away. It lays in a large mass of land within the edges of the island. Over the years, more than 20 houses have been washed away or destroyed by increasing water level in the displacing island.

Community members complained that on a yearly basis, this trend of the island losing it bulky land mass continues and leaving them in total panic but however refusing to go. As pa Oman Pepel Conteh could say “poverty” is causing them to continue to stay at the Yeliboya Island and because of their continuous and reluctance in staying at this Island, they are experiencing many social and environmental problems such as fire due to their use of woods to dry fish, heavy tides from the banks of the river and uncontrolled natural breeze hitting high the makeshift structures they have in their community.

In Yeliboya, life is not easy for Community people here. During the rainy season, they can feel the pinch of staying in most vulnerable communities of such nature. Just like how some Community members are facing the wrath of staying at the banks along the Kroobay Community in Freetown, so also those in Yeliboya are struggling with their social life and in normal cases, the water oozes from the ground and overtakes their houses including places they lay their bodies to sleep.

There has been a solution for relocation in the nearby Mahela Village which is a land locked Community which is reported of accommodating all the Communities but it seems leadership is disrupting this brilliant idea of relocation and resilience. Adaptation cannot work in the Yeliboya Community but it seems the community prefer to adapt to the sinking island than relocating to another community.

Pa Osman said before now they were not thinking of leaving Yeliboya but now they have already consulted themselves and agreed that they need to relocate from the sinking island. He said they cannot move as of now but need the government of Sierra Leone to assist them by providing them the required resources to relocate to safer places. “We want the government to help us to build our houses in the places that we may relocate” he said while addressing a delegation from the Environment Protection Agency and other government representatives.

He said they prefer to relocate to Mahela because it is very close to where they are getting their livelihood. Interestingly, there is no safe drinking water in the Yeliboya Island. According to Pa. Oman, if they want to get safe drinking water for their families and their domestic works, they must go far off to buy water to drink in the nearby villages.

It is estimated that 7,000 residents stay in the island and they presently have two Primary schools and one peripheral health center. In other to remedy the situation and deter anybody from returning back to the island, Pa. Osman said they will strengthen their bylaws to ensure all of them relocate to the sinking island.

A fully composed delegation headed by Madam Bintu Kaifala from the Environment Protection Agency Northern Regional Office in Makeni and Mr. Patrick Kamara, the EPASL Public relations Officer from Freetown as well as representatives from the Office of National Security and the Kambia District Council visited the Yeliboya island to ascertain the complexity of issues in the island with the aim of collecting recommendations for possible report to higher authorities.

The Public relations Officer of the EPASL, Patrick Kamara admonished the Yeliboya Community about the important of the environment which constitutes the air, water and the land. He said the government of Sierra Leone established the EPASL in other to ensure they take care of the environment.

Commenting on the situation in Yeliboya, Mr. Kamara said the people of that community desperately need help and further promised that he will relay their recommendations and call for help to the relevant authorities for possible actions.

Mr. Kamara said the people of Yeliboya are experiencing challenges on the environment because they have been persistently engaged in cutting down of the mangroves for wood in that localities.

Mr. Kamara also reiterated the fact that the situation in Yeliboya is presently worrisome and urgently needs the intervention of the Central Government to ensure they relocate the community people from the sinking island. “The reality is that we should not sit by and allow disaster to come by. The fact remains that Yeliboya is sinking slowly” he said while granting an interview to Standard Times Environment in Yeliboya.

Reflecting on the vast area that has already been lost in the sinking community, Mr. Kamara said “this is not sounding well for the women, children and people that are presently habiting in the island”.

As officials of the Environment Protection Agency, Mr. Kamara said they are very much concern about the welfare of the citizens in the island.

Heavy rains are projected to be experienced in the coming years and with the prevailing trend of high tides from the banks, these Communities will continue to disappear if they are left here without relocating to another safe environment.






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