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Sierra Leone News: Manonkoh loses more lands and crops to flooding

Manonkoh villageThe people of Manonkoh village in the Marampa Masimera chiefdom in Port Loko district have suffered deprivation for three years running caused by flooding of an estimated 350 hectares of swampland on which the people get their livelihood from.
This flooding which has become a daily occurrence on Manonkoh swamplands is caused by British-owned Iron Ore Mining Company, London Mining Plc.
“We have raised our concerns and feelings to Government, our Paramount Chief, Human Rights groups and other stakeholders with regards the flooding of our swamplands caused by London Mining, but nobody seems to care and nothing has come out of our complaints and cries for justice,” Mabinty Turay frustratingly told Awoko with tears in her eyes.
She said the situation remains the same even after the change of ownership and nomenclature of the company from a group of British shareholders to a certain Frank Timis and the name changed to Timis Mining Corporation.
Mabinty said she has not engaged in effective farming for the past three years since government gave mining rights to the now defunct London Mining Company. She said as a result, two of her daughters have dropped out of school as she cannot afford to provide them additional support while in school in Lunsar, the chiefdom headquarter town. Her two daughters stay with relatives in Lunsar while attending school, but according to Mabinty, they need additional support in terms of food and other school needs to keep them going.
“I used to do huge groundnuts and potato farming and from the proceeds, I send additional support for my children to those in whose care they are. But for the past three years, my land has been inundated with contaminated water coming from the Iron Ore mining activities of London Mining Company,” Mabinty explained.
A local NGO, Mothers Club recently came to the rescue of the women of Manonkoh by providing them training, seeds, fertilizers and other inputs as enhancement for their livelihoods. But again, the long arm of water flowing from the now Timis Mining Corporation has just flooded and washed away farms lands that had already been cultivated, tilled and seeds of various sorts planted.
“We were provided with seeds of different kinds; ground nuts, corn etc., and fertilizers were supplied to us. We had barely planted our seeds when water from the mines flowed in and washed away all that we have suffered for living us in further penury,” Mabinty said exasperatedly.
Joseph Mohamed Fofanah, Secretary General of Mothers Club, told Awoko that they were supported by another local NGO called DEEP and were trained to recommence their agricultural activities once again. He said the project aimed at empowering women including teenagers and elderly women to embark in agricultural activities in that part of the country. He said after the training they started clearing of their remaining swamp after some amount of water was drained by London Mining Company.
The Secretary went on that after they had prepared the land for farming and huge quantities of seeds such as rice, groundnut, corn and fertilizers were provided to them by the Cotton Tree Foundation which they planted on the prepared land. He said the corn, rice and groundnut were almost ready for harvest when it was suddenly covered by water from mining activities of Timis Mining Corporation, he alleged.
Joseph went on that when the flooding was noticed, they informed their village chief who in-turn told the Paramount Chief and the mining company, Timis Mining Corporation but pointed that the company did not respond to them well.
The General Manager for Cotton Tree Foundation, Alimamy Bangura said as part of their thematic areas of operations with includes agriculture and education, they supported the Manonkoh community after the war with farm inputs and seeds. He said the community and London Mining approached his organisation to assist the Manonkoh community with the development of their swamplands to make them agriculturally viable.
Alimamy Bangura said the proposed agricultural project agreement between Manonkoh and London Mining did not go on as planned, which prompted the village chief, Mohamed Fofanah to turn to Mothers Club for assistance. He said they therefore agreed to support the community with seeds that they should pay back after harvest.
“We agreed to support because we are aware that Manonkoh has fertile land that produces high yields,” Alimamy said.
The General Manager for Cotton Tree Foundation said they supplied the community 50 bushels of Nerica rice, 40 bags of groundnut, 200kg of corn and 50 bags of fertilizers totalling le 43, 500, 000 ( Forty Three Million Five Hundred Thousand Leones)
According to Alimamy Bangura all of these have been washed away and the people have nothing to hold on to. I foresee hunger and starvation striking that community,” Alimmy Bangura predicted, as he lamented that everything his organisation gave to the people of Manonkoh to resuscitate them will never be recovered.
By Mohamed Kabba
Wednesday February 04, 2015

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