Urban ARK: Urban Risk in Freetown’s Informal Settlements: Making the Invisible Visible

Allen, A. et al.
Publication language
Date published
01 Jun 2017
Plans, policy and strategy
Disasters, Response and recovery, Urban
Sierra Leone
IIED DFID Urban Crises Learning Fund

Rapid urban development and a rising population have led to significant changes in Freetown over the last decades. Although the city’s status as the nation’s economic heartbeat has been bolstered, the growth and sprawl of informal settlements and the continuous lure of rural-urban migration have led to a range of risks, both episodic and ‘everyday’. These risks are more concentrated in the pockets of informal settlements and are becoming progressively embedded in the way of life of its residents, with adverse effects. In order to `make visible’ and capture the hidden vicious cycles of risk accumulation and risk traps, the city needs to be re-examined through a lens of urban risk. This policy brief reflects on the participatory approaches adopted to improve knowledge of small-scale and everyday urban risks. Through these approaches, urban risk traps were captured to assess mitigation efforts by a range of actors, revealing the embedded `capacities to act’ on the captured risks.