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Rain Season in Sierra Leone

In West Africa there are only two seasons: dry and rain season. The dry season is usually from November to April. So, when it is the winter season and cold in America, it is hot in West Africa. The rain season is split between two time periods, from April -July and again in September -October.As you can see the rain season is short. If you are fortunate to experience the rain season here in Sierra Leone, you will notice that it rains a lot during that time. Unfortunately, in the past few years due to climate change, the rain season is becoming shorter. This leads to drastic problems for those living in Sierra Leone.

The Sierra Leone Meteorological agency, SLMET, noticed changes in weather patterns in the country and said, “the rain season is shorter, and the dry season is hotter”. Before, they had frequent thunder and lightning during the rainy season to the point that it felt like winter from April to October. Now, only the first half of the rain season has thunder in June and July. It barely rains in September and October. Since the rain season is broken in two phases, many farmers would plant in the first rain season and harvest in the second rain season or plant twice. Everyone is worried about agriculture here, even families who have crops growing in their backyard like cassava and potatoes leaves, corn, plantains, and the main crops is rice. Besides the crops, water shortage is also a concern. Some houses have a well and they share the water with the community but when the rain season is short, the well is not able to provide water for the whole community. Not only is the rain season unable to provide enough water, but it is also getting hotter. Within the past few years the temperature has risen from 26 degrees Celsius (78.8 F) to 32 (89.6) degrees Celsius. People like myself enjoys coming to Africa during the rainy season when the place is not so hot. But now things are changing. Research has shown that high temperature also means higher chance of insects infecting crops, so farmers not only have shortage of water to worry about but also insects destroying the few crops growing.

Farmers rely on the rainfall to water their crops because they do not have an irrigation system. Some farmers wait for the rain season, which is getting shorter, but by then the planting season will be over. The rain not only waters the crops but also protects them from insects like grasshoppers. Rain fall in Sierra Leone has reduced by almost 50% in 3 decades due to climate change. Agronomists have reported that  “crops like maize, cassava, potatoes and several vegetables would be affected more” the staple crop, rice, which “as for now is still doing good but, less rain means less productivity”.

https://www.straitstimes.com/world/africa/270-bodies-recovered-from-sierra-leone-mudslide-mayor

Although the rain season comes with its benefits like a decrease in temperature, abundant harvest of crops, increase water in wells, it certainly comes with its disadvantages too. For example, insects like mosquitoes carrying the infectious malaria, torrential rain that leads to floods, mudslides, and erosion. In August 14, 2017 torrential rain caused the ground underneath the homes on mount sugar loaf to shake and slide down the hill. Many lives, over a thousand, were lost including homes and businesses in Freetown, Sierra Leone. The country did not have an emergency plan. Most of the homes should not have been built there because it was a high-risk area prone to landslides. Deforestation has led to many hillsides losing stability. Corrupt government is allowing informal housing licensing. There are many factors that led to the mudslide besides climate change. But that does not change the fact that on Sunday august 13th until Monday morning august 14 it rained 300% higher than normal. The floods caused widespread destruction of at least 1,245 properties with over 300 houses being destroyed. According to ONS information, the mudslides rendered 11,816 people displaced

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