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 have assisted the Sierra Leonean government 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 recovered from two years of the COVID-19 pandemic and multiple international crises dramatically increasing the cost of living, access to housing remained 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 promoted a collaborative and strategic response to the housing crisis in Sierra Leone by supporting the national government’s efforts to develop a national housing policy.  

It built on the ACRC housing research in Sierra Leone and 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 did IIED do?

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

IIED, SLURC and Pathfinders carried out three main activities:  

Additional resources

Housing policy options to tackle urban inequalities, Camila Cociña, Alexandre Apsan Frediani, Joseph Macarthy, Paula Sevilla Núñez (2023), policy brief

News: SLURC conducts one-day conference to tackle urban inequalities (September 2022)

Blog: Breaking the cycle of housing deprivation in Freetown’s informal settlements, by Alexandre Apsan Frediani  (April 2022)

Blog: Securing the right to adequate housing in African cities, by Ola Uduku, Alexandre Apsan Frediani and Miriam Maina (April 2022)