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Delivering Support for Rapidly Urbanising Cities in Developing Countries – Pilot Study in Bo, Sierra Leone

12 December 2017

CAP has been supporting a pilot project by the Prince’s Foundation for Building Communities (PFBC) to develop a toolkit to help planners in cities in developing countries across the commonwealth and beyond.  This led to a very successful workshop that took place in Sierra Leone on 4th and 5th December 2017.

The challenges of rapid urbanisation are of particular relevance to the commonwealth countries where 90% of countries have populations under 1 million and one third of those are expected to (at least) double in size in the next 20 years.  In response to this, PFBC has been developing a toolkit to help planners and others across the commonwealth consider how this growth can be managed in a planned and sustainable way.

As part of developing the toolkit, the PFBC has been keen to trial it by delivering the toolkit in person through a series of workshops. One of a limited number of trial locations has been the city of Bo in Sierra Leone.  Here, PFBC and CAP have linked up with local Warwick District-based charity One World Link (OWL) in the UK.  OWL has developed a longstanding friendship link with Bo stretching back for 36 years and as part of this has shared skills between officers from Warwick District Council and Warwickshire County Council and their counterparts in Bo on a number of projects.

Bo, the second city in Sierra Leone, has a population of 174,000 but this is scheduled to rise to over ½ million by 2040.  Sierra Leone has no effective planning system and so the challenges of managing sustainable growth here are significant.

An initial workshop in Bo was led by Bob May from Turley, on behalf of PFBC, earlier this year.  A second workshop, including a local stakeholder consultation event, was held on 4th and 5th December and was led again by Bob with support from OWL.  The two-day event in Bo was attended by over 30 people, including council officers, councillors, Paramount Chiefs, local landowning families and a range of local stakeholders. Over the two workshops, participants developed a vision for Bo, identified a broad spatial framework for where growth should be directed (and importantly where it should not), and began to consider in more detail how this growth should be masterplanned.

Commenting on the event, Philip Clarke from OWL said: “We were delighted by the response from participants to the workshop.  Everyone in Bo clearly recognises the difficulties of delivering a meaningful planning framework to guide future development in their city, but they were keen to use the event to explore what such a planning framework could potentially deliver.  They also began to consider how these good principles can inform their current work and priorities now. If events such as this can increase mutual understanding of the opportunities that good planning can bring, and stimulate a dialogue between local councils and other stakeholders, this can only bode well for the future.”

Click here for a full report on the workshops

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