Pilot Housing Project in Freetown, Sierra Leone

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Focus Areas: Housing

SDI’s involvement in this project began in 2010 and was centred on the implementation of a pilot housing project, as well as building the capacity of Sierra Leone’s Federation of the Urban and Rural Poor (FEDURP-SL). The initial housing demonstration project targeted ten (10) families and used a three acre parcel of land allocated by the Ministry of Lands, Country Planning and the Environment (MLCPE). More than thirty-five (35) savings groups have been mobilized and federated into FEDURP-SL. These groups are saving on a daily basis and are contributing monthly towards the nascent trust fund – Fordibambai Trust Fund (FTF).

Location: Freetown, Sierra Leone


Vulnerability and Capacity Assessment (VCA) was done in Kroo Bay and Dworzack communities to critically assess hazards, high risk spots, vulnerability and the capacity of the community. Support was given to the Federation for policy deliberation, publicity, research and documentation. A draft memorandum of understanding (MoU) is now under review by the University authorities. This MoU will establish a technical partnership between CODOHSAPA/FEDURP and the Geography Department, Fourah Bay College (FBC), University of Sierra Leone (USL). 

FEDURP continues to manage and revolve their self-initiated and self-supported micro-credit scheme in which more members are being supported. In addition to this, FEDURP continues to engage with authorities on the allocation of land for the housing demonstration project.

Community capacity:

Intense engagement by the community, through FEDURP, with the Freetown City Council (FCC) and the MLCPE led to the acquisition of the land from the MLCPE.


The project targets ten families. However, given the size of the land on which the project is located, additional families can be targeted as beneficiaries in subsequent phases of the project.


This project lays the foundation for new thinking amongst policy makers. It demonstrates to the government that inclusive participation and approaches by government and the valuing of the contribution of the poor people, especially those in slum settlements, serves as a means and possibility by which the social needs of the poor could be addressed and by which the presumed “menace” posed by slums can be addressed. This opportunity has also strengthened the relationship between FEDURP and FCC and MLCPE.


SDI Contributions:

SDI contributed US$23,000.00

Other Contributions:

US$10,000.00 was provided by SELAVIP for housing. 

Resources Leveraged:

A three (3) acre plot of land was leveraged from the Ministry of Lands, Country Planning and the Environment (MLCPE). 

Costs recovered from community:

None to date.

Francis Reffell francis@yahoo.com

Project information updated: 10 May 2016

Project in depth

Detailed Information

As the rainy season sets in, most coastal slum experienced flooding, mostly suffered by Kroo Bay and Susan’s Bay while the hillside slums experienced mudslide especially in Dworzack, New Englandville and Crab Town localities which resulted in two (2) deaths, the Centre of Dialogue on Human Settlement and Poverty Alleviation (CODOHSAPA) and FEDURP responded by providing non-food items for affected federation members. 
This project is part of a larger project called “Influencing Government to Adopt Pro-poor Policy to Urban Planning” that is co-funded by SDI, Selavip, Y Care International and YMCA


The objectives of this project include:

  • Engaging city and government authorities and the private sector to influence and harmonize pro-poor policy regulations on city and urban planning; 
  • Mobilizing and building community capacity for increased participation in self-development initiatives and programming; 
  • Supporting ten (10) vulnerable families to construct houses serving as dwelling units and for demonstration purposes showcasing the potentials of grassroot community members as champions of their own development, and; 
  • Creating public awareness on the social, economic and political dynamics of slum communities so as to develop positive perceptions towards the general situations and wellbeings of residents in these communities.

Community capacity:

This project is fairly capital and technical intensive, and thus requires huge funds and technical requirements to implement. Initial engagement with architects provided fair knowledge to the community on cost and budget implications. This enabled them to be very active in the process of developing designs of their houses and implementing the project. 

Community mobilisation still remains a challenge in some communities.


Scaling up of the project will result in an increase in the number of beneficiaries, not only in the same community but in new communities as well. It will also involve theh leveraging of further resources, namely land and infrastructure (services). 


In addition to helping the project beneficiaries secure tenure and access decent housing, the intention is that the success of the first phase of this project strengthens the working relationship between all stakeholders. The intention is that the project demonstrates to the government the sustainability of community-initiated and implemented housing project. Put differently, the aim is for the project to demonstrate that community-led service delivery initiatives are viable alternatives to state-led service delivery. 


SDI Contributions:

SDI contributed US$23,000.00. Of this amount, US$8,000 went towards housing. The remaining US$15,000.00 went towards federation strengthening activities. 

Market Generated Returns:

None to date.

Costs recovered from community:

The intention is that the cost per housing provided for the families through this project is to be recovered and put into a revolving fund. In doing this, the money can be loaned to a new set of beneficiaries. As a result of this, financial sustainability can be guaranteed. 

Bradlow, B. (2011). National Slum Dwellers Federation Launched in Sierra Leone. [Online]. Available: http://www.citiesalliance.org/node/2399
CODOHSAPA & FEDURP. (2011). Community-led Enumeration and Profiling: The State of 11 Coastal Slums in Freetown, Sierra Leone. [Online]. Available: http://sdinet.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/State_of_11_Coastal_Slum_in_Freetown_Sierra_Leone.pdf
Hitchen, J. (2015). Sierra Leone: Flooding in Freetown - A Failure of Planning? [Online]. Available: http://allafrica.com/stories/201511162526.html
Sama, P. (2011). YMCA and FCC Discuss the Fate of Slum Dwellers. [Online]. Available: http://awoko.org/2011/08/03/ymca-and-fcc-discuss-the-fate-of-slum-dwellers/

Funding Information



Funding type:

Grant funding

Fully funded

Implementing Partners

SELAVIP Foundation

Y Care International

Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA)

Centre for Dialogue on Human Settlement and Poverty Alleviation (CODOHSAPA)