Watch | Why are people in Sierra Leone building homes on the sea?

Why are people in Sierra Leone building homes on the sea?

A video on why most of the houses in Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone, were constructed on land reclaimed from the sea

Updated - March 26, 2023 05:09 pm IST

Published - March 26, 2023 04:30 pm IST

This is the slum of Cockle Bay in Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone

Most of the houses in the area were constructed on land reclaimed from the sea.

This is through a process called “banking,” where people pile layers of tyres, rubbish, and sacks of earth into the water and build homes on top of them.

Why are they doing this?

Freetown’s population grew during the 1991 to 2002 civil war when hundreds of thousands of people fled violence in the provinces.

This is seen as a solution to Freetown’s overcrowding problem, which is rooted in its geography, and only increased during the civil war

Since the city nestles on a peninsula between the Atlantic and mountains, any informal expansion in either direction is dangerous

These unauthorized homes face perils ranging from floods to fire and struggle with a lack of basic services and access to roads.

Despite the challenges, people like Lamrana Bah still live in their own homes, even without running water.

About a third of Freetown’s estimated 1.5 million residents live in the slums.

Script and Production: Reenu Cyriac

Voiceover: Gopika K P

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