The World Bank office in Sierra Leone has launched two, recently completed, key reports on Sierra Leone, namely, the Freetown Urban Sector Review and Multi-City Hazard and Risk Assessment. The studies are both focused on Freetown, which dominates Sierra Leone’s urban landscape. The city’s population has increased roughly 10-fold in the last 50 years and if the city was removed, Sierra Leone would lose 28% of GDP. Ensuring Freetown’s effective management is of national importance. The growth and importance of Freetown is expected to increase making it all the more important to re-assess the nature and management of its expansion for the coming years.
Despite Freetown’s national importance, the city has become crowded, underserviced and vulnerable to natural hazards. For its population size, Freetown is one of the most crowded cities in the world. Additionally, due to its topography, the Freetown peninsula is highly exposed to landslides and floods.
Combined, these two studies aim to provide the Government of Sierra Leone, World Bank teams and development partners with a range of recommendations across institutions and sectors for priority areas in policy and investment reform that will enable Freetown to become a prosperous and resilient city. The analysis presented is informed by a wealth of risk-informed digitized maps that will enable decision-makers to reduce the overall risks to citizens of the city. Finally, it will provide an overview of strategies to strengthen institutions, both in terms of human and fiscal capacity to effectively and efficiently manage the growth of Freetown through an urban planning and disaster risk management lens.
The event is being attended by a range of stakeholders from the central government to include: the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Planning and Economic Development, Ministry of Lands, Housing and the Environment, Ministry of Works and Public Assets, Ministry of Water Resources; as well as local stakeholders such as Freetown City Council, Guma Valley Water Company; and international organizations (UN agencies, DFID, JICA) and NGOs.
It is expected that this conference would foster enriching dialogues and actions around policies and strategies to improve Freetown’s resilience and ensure integration with the Transform Freetown Initiative.