Tackling inequalities through housing policy development

In Sierra Leone, the lack of access to adequate and affordable housing compromises the country’s pathways for more sustainable and inclusive urban development. IIED and partners are assisting the Sierra Leonean government in its efforts to design a national housing policy that tackles inequalities.

June 2022 - March 2023
Alexandre Apsan Frediani

Principal researcher, Human Settlements

Housing justice
A programme of work producing knowledge and methodologies for housing policy and initiatives that promote wellbeing and sustainability in cities of the global South
People sitting at tables facing a panel and a whiteboard behind them.

Stakeholders gather in Freetown for the conference 'Tackling urban inequalities: pathways for housing justice and inclusive urban development in Sierra Leone' (Photo: Alexandre Apsan Frediani, IIED)

As Sierra Leone recovers from two years of the COVID-19 pandemic and multiple international crises dramatically increase the cost of living, access to housing remains a priority for its population. 

For Sierra Leoneans, housing represents not just shelter but a determinant of people’s health, economic security and safety.  

The continued trend of urbanisation in the country is making housing a growing urban challenge. Lack of access to affordable and adequate housing is driving the rapid growth of informal settlements in Freetown, as well as the expansion of insecure and precarious housing conditions in cities such as Bo, Kenema and Makeni.  

IIED research, done in partnership with the Sierra Leone Urban Research Centre and part of the African Cities Research Consortium (ACRC), is showing that the lack of housing policy and planning efforts to tackle this housing crisis is deepening poverty and inequalities. It’s also hindering the country’s ambition to promote inclusive and sustainable development. 

This project aims to promote a collaborative and strategic response to this housing crisis in Sierra Leone by supporting the national government’s efforts to develop a national housing policy.  

It builds on the ACRC housing research in Sierra Leone and has evolved through a collaboration with an existing partnership between the national government of Sierra Leone and Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies, a global initiative focused on the promotion of Sustainable Development Goal 16 on peace, justice and strong institutions.  

The government of Sierra Leone was particularly interested in how the ongoing process of housing policy development could help tackle inequality and exclusion in the country.

What is IIED doing?

This partnership will contribute to the housing policy development process with research developed by SLURC, public dialogue activities and evidence from international experiences.

IIED, SLURC and Pathfinders are carrying out three main activities:  

Finally, a report will outline the key principles for a housing policy development framework in Sierra Leone, as well as a set of recommendations identified through the various project activities.