Want to keep learning?

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 10 seconds You cannot take away the informal aspects of the city from the formal aspects. The formal aspects cannot really operate well without the informal sector, because the formal sector is highly dependent on the informal sector. For instance, the stones and the fish that they get from the Cockle Bay– I’m sorry, Portee-Rokupa and Moyiba – is being used throughout the city to build houses, it’s being used to feed the city. Because Portee-Rokupa is one of the largest fishing communities we have in the city, and they even supply the provinces. So you see how important they are. And also, the people from, for example, Dwarzack, most of them are casual workers and they work for the formal sector. They are very much interconnected.

Skip to 1 minute and 16 seconds And even their tools are being bought– they come to the centre of town and buy their tools from the people at the CBD to be able to undertake take their work. So you see the money they collect from there is also circulating. You cannot cut off the informal sector from the formal sector because it definitely needs it to operate. In the first place, there isn’t much options being given in the formal sector. So if you cut off the informal sector, you are going to kill the majority, thousands of people, in the country because the majority of them rely on the informal sector.

Skip to 2 minutes and 2 seconds And even those within the formal sector rely on the informal sector to be able to operate very well, you know. So it’s very difficult. If you are in the formal sector, of course, you need stone, you need sand, you need fish to eat. So if you say they are illegal and then you cut them off, I don’t see how the formal sector is going to operate.

Freetown's formal and informal economic activities

Listen to SLURC Researcher Ms. Sudie Austina Sellu explain the findings of recent research.

The informal settlements in Freetown provide many employment opportunities, including fishing in coastal communities and stone mining for those located on hillsides.

Whilst these livelihood activities are informal, they play key roles in the city economy, such as supporting the construction of houses and in feeding the city.

The video mentions Portee-Rokupa (point 13), which we visited in video 1.13 in week 1, and Moyiba (point 12). You can explore both settlements through the Freetown interactive Map.

The map below is part of the research mentioned by Ms Sellu. It shows the connections between specific livelihood sectors in four informal settlements and the rest of the city. The orange parts of the city are the informal settlements. Black arrows show the places where residents buy inputs and tools for their livelihoods sectors, while brown arrows indicate where these residents sell their products. What can you notice about the economic linkages between the informal settlements and other more formal areas of the city?

image of map show spatial dimensions of Freetown

Share this video:

This video is from the free online course:

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

UCL (University College London)

Get a taste of this course

Find out what this course is like by previewing some of the course steps before you join: