By Amin Kef Sesay – 18 August 2019
Sierra Leone is set to begin construction of 5000 affordable housing units in Freetown. This was revealed by Mayor Yvonne Aki-Sawyer. She added that the housing construction will cater for the very high housing needs of the low-income class population in Freetown.
“The affordable housing is particularly aimed at easing the plight of the city’s populace, dwelling in mostly uncongenial habitations and dismally poor housing conditions,” said the mayor.
She added that feasibility studies will be carried out on the urban slums and other possible areas where the housing works are to be carried out.
Freetown is wedged between the Atlantic Ocean and steep hills leading inland. Village houses in the provinces are traditionally made of sticks with mud walls and thatch or grass roofs; they may be circular or rectangular in shape. In Freetown, older two-storey wooden houses are being replaced by structures built largely of concrete blocks, with corrugated iron or cement-asbestos roofs. Building is controlled in the major towns, and designs are subject to approval.
In 1999, as a result of the invasion of rebels, about 5,932 homes were completely destroyed in Freetown and the surrounding areas of Kissy, Wellington, Calaba Town, and Allen Town. The town of Koidu, which was once the second largest town in the nation, suffered major destruction. National estimates indicate that by 2001, 300,000 homes were destroyed as a result of the internal rebellion. Approximately 1.2 million people were internally displaced or fled to neighbouring countries.
The government has however made reconstruction a priority and has initiated a National Housing Policy to work on programs of reform, resettlement, and reconstruction. Through one program, the government has planned to sell public housing and to use the proceeds to build more housing units.