Sierra Leone News: SLURC, Partners Engage Stakeholders on Urban Transformation
By Stephen V. Lansana
The Sierra Leone Urban Research Centre (SLURC) together with its founding partners -The Bartlett Development Planning Unit, University College London (DPU, UCL) and the Institute of Geography and Development Studies, Njala University (IGDS, NU) — has engaged stakeholders on Urban Transformation in Sierra Leone.
The conference which was held on Wednesday June 19, 2019, at the British Council auditorium in Freetown provided a platform for the engagement of a wide range of stakeholders from city council to national government, Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), Community Based-Organisations (CBOs), Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), members of academic Institutions and community members, among others.
The purpose of the conference is to facilitate dialogues among stakeholders on how research on urban development in Freetown can be applied to influence policy and planning practices towards the Transform Freetown Plan, as well as the new National Development Plan.
In his welcome address, the Executive Director of SLURC, Dr. Joseph M. Macarthy said that the conference comes at an interesting moment for urban planning and development in the country, with both the Transform Freetown Framework and the National Development Plan now in their implementation phase. “We hope that the dialogue conference will directly inform the implementation of these two interventions,” he said.
“Today is also a celebration of the international partnership between the DPU, UCL and IGDS, NU, which led to the formation of SLURC. 2019 is the UCL Bartlett Faculty’s 100th year, and we are delighted to welcome a high level delegation from UCL to Sierra Leone,” he said. “The visit is an opportunity for all three institutions (NU, UCL and SLURC) to consolidate and further cultivate this international collaboration.”
He said that the conference is structured around SLURC’s four key thematic areas of research: Urban Health; Urban Livelihoods and the City Economy; Urban Vulnerability and Resilience; and Land and Housing.
Deputy Minister of Technical and Higher Education, Dr. Turad Senesie said that before the development SLURC, Sierra Leone tertiary institution policies have failed to tackle the challenges of urban development. “Before now, our national institutions especially at tertiary levels only provide teaching centered rather than research oriented institutes. So, the coming of SLURC is very timely,” he said. He noted that the partnership model has embraced goals and knowledge introduction, among others in the global circle.
Dr. Senesie said, “As a government, we see today’s urban transformation of informal settlement in Freetown as platforms were institutions can genuinely create dialogue and debate on national development goals.”
He said that the key aspiration of government as articulated in the Sierra Leone’s middle term development plan 2019–2023 is to transform Sierra Leone into a middle income country within the period.
Mayor of Freetown, Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr said that Transform Freetown is about addressing needs and realizing the integrated nature of other environment, stating that it’s about four clusters: resilience, human development, healthy city and environmental management.
“The major gap that we have had is lack of urban planning,” she said. “But the central government through the vice president issued press release putting in place a process of devolution with 28 clusters. Three [Land disparity, issuance of building permit, and preparation of local area plans] out of the 28 clusters are instrumental to our collective councils.”
Vice-Provost International of UCL, Dame Nicola Brewer said, “We believe that people achieve significantly by working together.” She said that partnership will build positive impact and last change, adding that partnership is about mutual respect. She stated that “UCL believe that there is always hope in sharing ideas and they have created it, which enables them in preferring solutions in addressing the various challenges.”
Vice Chancellor of Njala University, Prof. Abdulai Mansaray said that research is the bedrock of the development of the country, adding that SLURC is providing the empirical framework of the development of urban setting. “Our approach to urban transformation has not always been informed by evidence. With SLURC, we have begun to see the dynamics of urban transformation,” Prof. Mansaray said. He congratulated UCL for their partnership with Njala and SLURC.
Issue No.: 7616
Published Thursday June 20, 2019