Like many cities in the developing world, Freetown, Sierra Leone’s lively capital, has experienced major population increases in recent years. Consisting of more than a million inhabitants, coupled with weak land-use planning and enforcement, Sierra Leone has suffered a series of collateral problems.
These include degradation of natural resources for building materials, urban sprawl and major deficiencies in public infrastructure; water supplies, drainage and waste disposal.
Since 2012, we have been developing a range of projects in Freetown, aimed at building capacity within local communities to manage this challenge. Working with local partner organisations, the Foundation has offered a series of training courses in construction and design, and supported the delivery of several remarkable community-based projects in the country’s capital of Freetown.
Our team is now taking the training programme to a new group of thirty-three architects, engineers, building contractors and lecturers. The six-week course will teach principles of climatically appropriate, sustainable design. It covers effective approaches to tropical architecture, and which locally available building materials can support this type of construction.
Over the course of the programme, the students divide into teams in order to develop a concept and detailed design for three construction projects, each of huge community value. The teams develop their project brief through extensive stakeholder and community engagement. On top of this, they must include full costings for each project, and learn how building and planning regulations impact their designs
The first of the construction projects is Horton Street School. Established by the NGO Planting Promise, the school provides free education to over 200 students from its base, in a dilapidated, 100-year-old Board House in a central Freetown slum. During phase 1 of the project, the main building will be renovated, expanding and simplifying its internal spaces. Phase 2 will see a new extension built to the rear of the main school building, providing for the first time an outdoor play area, as well as four new classrooms and toilets. However, Phase 2 depends on Planting Promise’s ability to fundraise. More information about their fundraising campaign, including how to donate, can be found here. www.plantingpromise.com/building-promise
The second project is Nehemiah College. Established during the Civil War, Nehemiah provides vocational training to over 1,000 students in a slum in Eastern Freetown. Our project will develop IT training rooms and an Internet Café to house 100 donated computers and an energy efficient server system. The college intends to run evening classes whilst providing training space to local schools, many of which charge students for IT classes without any access to computers. Their fees will help to support the ongoing maintenance of the college, which has a track record for educating those most deeply impacted by both the Civil War and Ebola outbreaks.
The final project is a Maternity Unit in Coconut Farm. We first worked in Coconut farm in 2012, training 35 local people in construction, and giving them the skills they needed to build important new facilities for the community. Through their training, they completed a new Community Centre and Health Post, which they continue to manage for the benefit of the wider community. Our local partner, the National Association for Peace and Positive Change (NAPPC), are now seeking to provide a safe, simple, sanctuary for expectant mothers that will provide care for women during pregnancy and childbirth. Currently women are faced with a 3-mile trip to the nearest, rundown facilities.
Each of these incredible projects will begin construction in early 2017. Our partner organizations on the ground will go on to manage the new facilities, and provide further professional development sessions, from CV writing, to job interview support.