Central Data Catalog

Citation Information

Type Working Paper
Title An Assessment of the Urban Conditions and Systemic Issues Contributing to Slum Development in Freetown, Sierra Leone’
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2009
URL http://www.slurc.org/uploads/1/6/9/1/16915440/johnson.2009.pdf
Freetown, the capital city of Sierra Leone, was founded in 1787 as a haven identified for
the freed African slaves repatriated from Europe and the Americas. Freetown is located in
the northern tip of the Western Area peninsular between the Sierra Leone River and the
Atlantic Ocean and lies within the administrative boundary of the Western Area of Sierra
Leone. Freetown is the country’s administrative headquarters and houses the seat of
government and the hub of commercial and industrial activities. The country’s largest
sea port, the Queen Elizabeth 11 Quay, also located in Freetown, handles major import
and export.
The topographic characteristics of the city is dominated by a narrow strip of raised
beaches along a general east-west alignment, sandwiched by the Western Area peninsular
mountains to the south, and the Sierra Leone River and the Atlantic Ocean to the north.
These mountains and the raised coastal beaches are dissected by a number of fast
flowing, high volume seasonal streams which empty into the Sierra Leone River, the
banks of which are dotted with mangrove swamps and mud flats.1
The topography of
Freetown has thus been the principal determinant of the generally east-west direction of
growth of the city from the original settlement established in the central lowland areas in
the west and central, and around the port in the east. The mountains to the south and the
Sierra Leone River and Atlantic Ocean to the north have however not prohibited growth
in both directions.
In fact, it is within these mountains to the south and the river and ocean to the north,
particularly in the environmentally fragile river valleys, flood plains, mangroves and mud
flats from which slums and informal settlements are springing up and expanding.2
present ‘Greater Freetown’ area extends from the settlement of Allen Town in the east to
the seaside settlement of Hamilton in the west. The administrative boundary of the
Freetown City Council (FCC), which is from Allen Town in the east to the Kaningo
River in the west, falls within this ‘Greater Freetown’ area.

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