SLURC & GDI Hub Launch Research Report on Built Environment in Freetown

By Millicent Senava Mannah

The Sierra Leone Urban Research Centre (SLURC) in partnership with Global Disability Innovation Hub (GDI Hub) and with support from UK Aid has launched the ‘Inclusive and Accessibility of the Built Environment in Freetown’ on the 13th April, 2023.

This auspicious event took place at the Radisson Blu Conference Centre on Aberdeen in Freetown.

Giving the overview of the Launch, Ian Mckinnon, Director of Global Disability Innovation Hub,  stated that this is part of the UK aid funded AT2030m sub-programme, ‘Inclusive Infrastructure Exploring the Role of Inclusive Environments’ to enable equal access to Assistive Technology (AT).

He maintained that the city of Freetown has a population of 1.6 million people that includes 7,807 persons with disabilities according to the 2015 census. Continuing he said literature suggests the figure is underestimated as disability prevalence in the country is at least 4.3%.

The Director noted that a comprehensive data is needed to support holistic action towards disability inclusion in the city.

‘’Freetown has numerous challenges including: topography and the occupation of disaster-prone land; poor transport and road networks; a lack of water, sanitation and waste management; inadequate housing and other basic necessities,’’ he stated.

He explained how those challenges exacerbate inequality in the city and the need for improvements in infrastructure across all sectors for the benefit of the whole population.

Francis Kabia, Director of Social Welfare commended SLURC and the Global Disability Innovation Hub for their giant step that seeks to know what works to improve access to life-changing Assistive Technology for persons with disabilities in the country.

He revealed how their Ministry has been playing a key role in improving the lives of  vulnerable groups in the country further assuring them that, they will put into action all the recommendations that have been made from the research and how they will also engage other line Ministries .

Sahr Lamin Korteque, Executive Secretary, National Commission for Persons with Disabilities, stated how living as a disabled person in the country is not really easy, stating how they face lots of challenges more especially in the area of mobility as the infrastructural design is not disabled friendly.

He maintained that there are lots of negative perceptions about disable persons in the country bordering on how they are trouble makers. He furthered that, it is a false perception and how anybody can be a trouble maker whether able or disabled.

Abdulai Turay of  SLURC, stated that, according to their research, living in Freetown for persons with disabilities is not easy also maintaining how large parts of the city are inherently inaccessible due to geographic conditions such as the steep terrain and development patterns that have led to many people living in informal settlements on high-risk land.

He disclosed how many people living in informal settlements are unable to access basic and essential services within their communities where infrastructure is limited and connectivity is poor.

According to the interviews they did with some persons with disabilities, most of them stated the challenges they faced.

‘’Our physical disability is not our problem, we already accepted it. But the environment and the perception of the people are now our disabilities,’’ one disabled person stated.

‘’Having access to an improved toilet facility, a decent, affordable and easily accessible home to sleep in will make life a bit better for me,’’ another stated.

The SLURC official said, from the stakeholders’ perspective there is urgent need for progress maintaining that the city has a strong record of developing robust policies including examples of inclusive policymaking processes such as the new AT strategy (Assistive Technology (AT) Policy and Strategic Plan 2021-25).


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here