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This content is taken from the UCL (University College London) , Sierra Leone Urban Research Centre & Njala University's online course, Development and Planning in African Cities: Exploring theories, policies and practices from Sierra Leone. Join the course to learn more.

Skip to 0 minutes and 11 seconds My name is Abu M. Sesay, from the Cockle Bay Community. I’m chairman for the Federation of Urban and Rural Poor. Well, ‘banking’ as we can see, the area that your interviewing is going on, this is a banking area. It’s reclaimed land. Did you realise its the sea? Here, where are you talking to me? The place, the house that you and I are sitting now, it is a sea. Can you detect that? You can’t, no. It has been transformed!

Skip to 0 minutes and 39 seconds In the initial stage in reclaiming land, the first person that started the initiative to reclaim land– and when you want to reclaim land, you’re given a little bit of money - either 200, 300 [thousand Leones] - to ask permission that I need to– I too want to reclaim land. So, land here in the slum, we are not buying land. You go down the sea, you call the mud. You come with the mud. You start to pack the mud. So that’s the way of reclaiming land. When land is banked, you need to construct your house. But the moment you begin to construct your house, the Freetown City Council, they are the owner of the municipality.

Skip to 1 minute and 29 seconds They will come and measure the area that you live, and you begin to pay taxes because you have erected a structure there.

Skip to 1 minute and 37 seconds Continuously, throughout your lifetime, you will be paying taxes. Then later, you can go to the Freetown City Council and register that you have a parcel of land. You start to pay rate, city rate. In the formal area you pay city rate, in the informal area, you pay city rate. Yes.

Producing land in Freetown's coastal settlements

In this video, Mr. Abu Sesay, from Cockle Bay, and Mr. Bob Jones, from CKG, discuss land reclamation.

Land reclamation is common throughout Freetown’s coastal settlements, and is known locally as “banking”. The process expands coastal areas, often using garbage and mud, to make space for housing. These reclaimed areas are regarded as high risk, and are especially vulnerable to flooding, as they are often at sea level.

Moreover, in some cases, “banking” contributes to the destruction of mangroves, which are protected ecological sites. As such, these reclaimed areas are extremely precarious and have been threatened with eviction by environmental agencies as well as other authorities. However, their residents are already some of the most vulnerable in the city, who had no other choice than building on very risky ground. These threats further increase their vulnerability whilst reducing their capacity to plan and improve their lives.

To learn more about how the threat of eviction effects residents in these settlements, please see videos 2.11 and 2.12. The locations from this video and more information on the settlements are available on the Freetown interactive map at point 8 (CKG) and point 9 (Cockle Bay).

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Development and Planning in African Cities: Exploring theories, policies and practices from Sierra Leone

UCL (University College London)

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