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Sierra Leone News: Inadequate housing causes pressure on the environment – FCC Mayor

“A lot of the pressures on the environment are as the result of the inadequacies of housing in the city (Freetown)…” said the Mayor of the Freetown City Council (FCC), Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr.
She said part of why we have the degradation of the environment is because there has been little or no planning at all…
“…as of the 2016 census Freetown had a population of 1,555,964,” the Mayor averred. Though online real-time portal, “worldometers.info” shows a decline in Sierra Leone’s annual growth rate since 2012 to date, the Mayor said according to World Bank study “we are growing at 4.2% per annum; that means if unchecked by 2028 in just 10 years from now there would be over 2 million people in this city…”
The Mayor explained that many of the big corporations and institutions have left our city centre. “The telecom companies have moved to the hills; the UN Agencies have moved out, World Bank have moved out. Our central business district, which should be the life blood of our city, is becoming a dead space.”
She emphasized the need to “address our housing deficit” and that means thinking out of the box, so that housing may be provided outside of Freetown for Freetown residents. However, the Mayor said her plans to transform the city of Freetown are divided into four clusters which are: resilient urban planning, human development, health city and urban mobility.
The Freetown City Development Plan 2016-2018 states that the City of Freetown can be tremendously efficient as it is easier to provide essential services to people living closer together in an urban setting rather than in disperse rural communities. Health care, education and other social and cultural services are more accessible.
However, as the population increases due to increase in growth rate and rural-urban migration, the cost of meeting basic needs has increased, so the environment could not cope with this situation. Freetown City, now the home to almost one–third of the country’s population is growing rapidly, especially from the center of the City going eastwards. The population in the City place tremendous pressure on the capacity of the natural environment to support its inhabitants. This has resulted in deteriorating living conditions, the growth of slums, the destruction of habitat, as well as air and water pollution.
The cost of urbanization to human health comes from a variety of sources. For example, diarrheal diseases from inadequate sanitation especially in slums are a serious burden on the Council. The proximity of industries to residential areas such as the Wellington industrial estate or the cold storage at Dworzak community is a course for concern. Deforestation, overexploitation of marine environment and pollution of land based activities (industries and sewage disposal) is not uncommon. Unsustainable population growth and the corresponding human activities have led, over the years, to an adverse impact on health and on the livelihoods of resident of the municipality.
By Ophaniel Gooding
Friday August 03, 2018.

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