SLURC Holds Stakeholders Engagement on ‘Beyond the Networked Cities’ Project

By Millicent Senava Mannah

The Sierra Leone Urban Research Centre has held a one day stakeholders engagement to present their research findings about their ‘Beyond the Networked Cities’ project  with different actors including Government agencies, private actors, NGOs and community actors involved in  the water, energy and sanitation sectors within Freetown. The engagement was held on the 5th April, 2023 at the New Brookfields Hotel, Brookfields in Freetown.

Braima Koroma, Director of Research and Training, SLURC, said they brought participants together to present the findings of the work they have been doing on their ‘Beyond the Networked Cities’. He continued that it is a three years project which will be ending in September 2023, maintaining how the engagement is for stakeholders to give their inputs about the project.

Giving his presentation, he revealed that the research was done at the Portee-Rokupa community, a sea front settlement located in the East End of Freetown. According to him, their research was done on key areas, energy, sanitation and water.

According to him, Freetown faces acute water challenges particularly in informal settlements which have limited connection to the municipal water grid. Maintaining that in Portee-Rokupa residents use different sources of water for drinking, and how these include sachet, pipe borne water, boreholes, protected wells and other sources such as rainwater harvesting.

‘’Through our qualitative studies, participants expressed concerns about barriers to access water. For the piped water, the most common barriers included damaged pipes, high cost of connection to the water grid and irregular supply of water. For well water sources, long queues and saltiness of the water were the main concerns,’’ he stated.

He revealed how sanitation access challenges are dire in Freetown, particularly in informal settlements. According to him, in Portee-Rokupa these infrastructures are much worse because the community is not connected to the sewer system to enhance safe channeling of liquid waste to a central sewage system.

‘’Residents considered construction and maintenance of toilets as a challenge, which impacts access.’’ Braima Koroma asserted.

‘’ Access to on-grid electricity still remains a challenge for most residents within Freetown. Though it has been significantly increased in most informal settlements in Freetown within the last decade,’’ he revealed.

According to their research, some of the factors impeding access to safe electricity at Portee-Rokupa are high tariffs and affordability of meter and they were part of the residents key concerns they felt can contribute to illegal connections and electricity theft.

One of the residents said, ‘’Some people cannot afford to buy meters; they tend to do illegal connections which we see as taboo because it is one of the things people do that causes fire outbreak.’’

Another resident expressed their constraints in fetching water, ‘’our challenges are with the distance our women and children have to cover to fetch water. Sometimes the children go to school late, and some children absent themselves from school for that day.’’

One of the landlords situated in Portee-Rokupa stated that, ‘’we use hanging toilet, and we share it with tenants and other neighbours. Because it is not suitable for children to use, most parents ask their children to use the seashores to defecate.’’

The engagement was climaxed with different activities like group work, presentations with the proffering of  recommendations by stakeholders on how to improve on the areas the findings captured.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here