Research shows that Sierra Leone recognizes the growing rate of urbanization in human settlements and the urgent need to develop an urban policy that is integrated into national development plans to guide development as imperative.
The plan of implementing the new urban agenda involves upgrading property within slums and construction of new structures outside Freetown as a result of inadequate lands.
Despite the growing rate of urbanization, Sierra Leone has no precise integrated policy to guide its urban development, which means it runs the risk of continued urban sprawl, poor urban basic services and fragmented urban management.
The mission objective of UN Habitat and its engagement with government is to resuscitate and reintegrate their presence in Sierra Leone by creating programs.
Head of Partnership and Advocacy External Relation Division UN Habitat, Doudou Mbye said UN Habitat is a non-resident agency unlike other resident agencies, citing that their representation is always national and international experts and that they go to countries when they have projects and programs.
The urban breakfast according to Mr. Mbye is a new creation by UN Habitat during the past years to sensitize, communicate, advocate and create awareness for the next urban forum.
“The next World Urban Forum in Abu Dhabi in 2020 and World Urban Forum is our premier platform,” Mr. Mbye said, adding that it’s a non-legislative urban forum to which they invite all stakeholders to share ideas.
Mr. Mbye added that their mission objective is to identify and discuss relevant urban priorities, citing that they have a tool in responding to the national priority of a country.
Mayor of Freetown Municipality Yvonne Aki-Sawyer said the dialogue on how they can develop others to build the city is ongoing, adding that wrong planning is what is affecting the country presently.
Madam Aki-Sawyer went on to say she will be using the devolved functions to council by the central government to bring proper planning to Freetown.
Deputy Minister of Planning and Economic Development, Dr. Robert Tamba Chakanda said the people of Sierra Leone are aware about the effects of urbanization, especially with the rapidly increasing rate of rural-to-urban migration.
Dr. Chankanda added that the percentage of the population living in urban areas in 2001 was 35 per cent to almost 40 per cent in 2015 with high concentration in the capital city.
The overall population of the country according to Dr. Chakanda is growing at a faster rate with the annual average population growth rate increasing sharply to 3.2 per cent between 2004 and 2005, up from 1.8 per cent between 1985 and 2004.
Dr. Chakanda further disclosed that the government is fully committed to achieve and ensure access for all to adequate safe and affordable housing and basic services and upgrade slums on SDG 11