By Millicent Senava Mannah
The Sierra Leone Urban Research Centre ,in collaboration with Freetown City Council, has held its sixth meeting on the City Learning Platform (CiLP) Project, on the theme, ‘’Charting A Pathway To Inclusive Urban Sanitation’. This event was held on the 31st August, 2023, at the Freetown City Council, 3rd Floor on17 Wallace Johnson Street in Freetown.
This Sixth Meeting was funded by two of SLURC’s major projects: OVERDUE Project, funded by the Global Challenges Research Fund(GCRF), and Beyond the Networked City Project, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council ( ESRC).
The city Learning Platform seeks to facilitate and coordinate knowledge sharing, bringing together all sets of stakeholders that are involved in addressing critical urban challenges and how to address them.
Giving the opening statement, Joseph McCarthy, Executive Director, SLURC, intimated that the meeting aims to engage different actors and stakeholders in discussing sanitation issues in the informal settlements of Freetown.
According to him, this is to build on the knowledge and learnings from SLURC sanitation projects, and other initiative solutions by different sanitation providers in Freetown, and how to ultimately feed into the development of a city-wide Inclusive Sanitation Strategy.
McCarthy noted that the three major elements of the City Learning Platform are to create a democratic platform for policy dialogue, debate and discussions, and also to create a feedback chain from community to the city level, and vice versa, allowing a scaling- up of practices from particular communities to more informal settlements within the city.
Furthering, he intimated that they are to institutionalize and disseminate participatory planning methodologies that foster pathways to urban equality. And lastly, to provide concrete solutions on how participatory processes can shape and solve developmental challenges in Freetown.
The Freetown City Council Representative, Mariama Whitmore, said as the population of the city increases, so does the demand for sanitation increases. According to her, only few people have access to proper toilet facilities in the city, more especially in the hard to reach areas.
She assured everyone that the suggestions made by everyone would be taken into consideration by the Council, and how they are the voices of the people.
Prof. Michael Templeton, ICL, giving his plenary pointed out that when constructing toilet, there must be provision for pregnant women and disable persons to comfortably have access to it.
He furthered that, there are several innovative ways by which human excretion can be used to generate income, and how these models can also improve sanity in the city as well. According to him, these wastes can be used as manure for agriculture, and how it can also be exported to generate income.
One of the presenters, Pius Nishimwe from GOAL, stated that some of the benefits of faecal wastes include creating alternative livelihoods and jobs, use for land management, agricultural purposes, improved sanitation, and so on. According to him, they created the first faecal sludge treatment plant in the country.
The waste Management providers also presented on the procedures and processes they use to manage wastes and so on. Community members of those hard to reach communities, like the slums who were in attendance also made their suggestions known on how to improve sanitation in their communities.
SLURC has been working effortlessly to increase the quantity and quality of knowledge about informal settlements and urban issues in the country and to build capacity amongst city stakeholders to enable a better understanding and application of research to practical situations.
The event was climaxed with group discussions and a question and answer session.