Liberia: Flooding At Kpatawee ‘Caused by Illicit Mining’

Flood overtakes the entire Kpatawee Waterfall community in Bong County

… EPA’s initial findings reveal

A preliminary investigation conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has revealed that the heavy flooding that overwhelmed the Kpatawee Waterfall in Bong County was a result of ‘illicit mining’ activities around the waterfall.

Kpatawee Waterfall, one of Liberia’s natural beauties and tourist destinations, was partly submerged under flood water over the weekend, posing severe public health and environmental threats to visitors and residents of surrounding communities in central Liberia. 

The devastating flood washed away accommodations and crops. 

Though the incident is being attributed to climate change, environmental inspectors who visited the area in a preliminary report said the flooding was human-induced.

Although some residents disclosed that a similar incident occurred in the area in the 1990s, environmental inspectors gathered that illicit mining activities taking place upstream caused the waterfall to overflow.

Illicit miners are noted for damming and diverting water bodies.

The EPA Inspectors also observed that channels around a rice field near the waterfall are blocked, making it difficult for the water to flow freely when it rains.

 EPA Executive Director, Wilson K. Tarpeh has mandated an intra-agency team, headed by the Department of Compliance and Enforcement, to further probe the cause of last weekend's flooding at the resort.

However, heavy rainfall and devastating flooding have affected hundreds of people across the country, upending livelihoods, displacing hundreds from their homes, and decimating hundreds of hectares of farms in rural communities.

Communities such as Kru Town in Robertsport City, Grand Cape Mount County, Kpatawee, Rubber Factory, Civil Compound, and Brooklyn communities in Bong County, and others in Nimba, and Margibi Counties, were severely impacted by the floods.

Several communities in Montserrado County, including Red Hill, Crabhole, Doe Communities on Bushrod Island, and Old Road in Sinkor, are also severely impacted.

The disaster, which many say is climate-related, is a repeat of the worst flooding cases that have been happening across the country in recent years. Many experts believe that the level of flooding that the country has experienced in recent years is climate change-induced. The country is being impacted by coastal erosion and a rise in the level of the sea.

The floods highlight the urgent need to help communities on the frontlines of the climate crisis adapt, expand solutions that address loss and damage incurred during climate-related disasters, and invest in climate action in fragile contexts.

These floods act as a misery multiplier and are the final straw for communities already struggling to survive. The National Disaster Management Agency is warning Liberians to brace themselves as the situation could worsen. The agency's Weather bug predicts continued heavy rainfall throughout September 2023.

“The situation has been extremely devastating,” the Liberia National Red Cross said last week. “The heavy rainfall and subsequent flooding have caused significant damage to homes and infrastructure, displacing residents and leaving them in urgent need of support.”