Purpose: When a major landslide and floods devastated Freetown, Sierra Leone had just overcome the Ebola crisis, which had left its mark on socio-political relations between different disaster response actors. With international disaster response frameworks increasingly shifting to local ownership, the national government was expected to assume a coordinating role. However, in “post-conflict” settings such as Sierra Leone, intra-state and state–society relations are continuously being renegotiated. This study aimed to uncover the complexities of state-led disaster response in hybrid governance setting at national and community levels in the response to the 2017 landslide and floods.
Design/methodology/approach: During the four months of fieldwork in Freetown in 2017, semi-structured interviews and focus group discussions with various state, aid and societal actors were conducted.
Findings: The findings show that a response to policy building on the idea of a uniform state response did not take into account intra-state power politics or the complexity of Sierra Leone's hybrid governance.
Practical implications: This paper argues for a more nuanced debate in humanitarian governance and practice on the localisation of aid in post-conflict and fragile settings.
Originality/value: The study's findings contribute to the literature on the disaster–conflict nexus, identifying paradoxes of localised disaster response in an environment with strong national–local tensions. The study highlights intra-local state dynamics that are usually overlooked but have a great impact on the legitimacy of different state authorities in disaster response.

Additional Metadata
Keywords Disaster governance, Disaster response, Humanitarian aid, Localisation, Post-conflict, State–society
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1108/DPM-03-2020-0076, hdl.handle.net/1765/128751
Journal Disaster Prevention and Management: An International Journal
Citation
Melis, S, & Hilhorst, D.J.M. (2020). When the mountain broke: disaster governance in Sierra Leone. Disaster Prevention and Management: An International Journal. doi:10.1108/DPM-03-2020-0076