With dozens of people flooding into the city like a swift wind that blows through the desert, basic social facilities including housing, medical care, education among others are regarded as hugely inadequate to accommodate the growing population of Sierra Leone’s capital.
A new United Nations report indicates that Africa’s Population is set to triple in the next 40 years, putting massive pressure on governments and infrastructure across the continent.
In Sierra Leone, the problem of rural urban migration has been seen by many as main reason for overcrowding, street trading and increase in crimes among other things in Freetown.
Many human rights organizations in the country have often wondered what this growing urban population would mean for Freetown in the coming years, given the country’s available resources.
Samuel Weeks is the Director of Population Studies at Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone. “This is a huge problem for a country like Sierra Leone. Clearly, there is already high competition for the country’s available resources like food, shelter, medical care, education and so on” observed Mr. Weeks.
He continued that if at this time Freetown could hardly cope with its available population, then it would become ‘deadly’ if the population of the city should increase in the coming years.
He identified a few reasons he thought were responsible for what he described as “the massive migration” of people from rural to urban centers. “Some come to the city in search of greener pastures, while others migrate because of educational reasons. Currently, people’s movements from villages to cities go beyond just seeking greener pastures.
During the war, many people left their homes because of fighting their areas and settled in big towns. When everything was over, “most of the people had established themselves in the cities very well and there was no way they could think of going back to their home lands” Mr. Weeks revealed.
He went on to say that the problem had even worsened because of poor social and other infrastructural facilities in the rural areas.
“Young people in particular always want to have access to better social facilities and experience a better standard of living which normally not available in the rural areas. So when this youthful population leaves the villages for cities, they exert exceedingly high pressures on housing, food, schools and many more.”
He said when the facilities are not enough to accommodate these migrants, competition becomes keen for the limited resources consequently leading to crimes and antisocial behaviors.
“Crimes and other negatives are on the increase in Freetown because the government is not just in a position to cater for the ever growing needs of the growing population of the city” says Mr. Weeks.
He observed that “until government puts proper planning measures in place and provides additional facilities like schools, hospitals among others to cope with the uncontrolled movement of people from villages to cities, the future of Freetown in the coming years will remain bleak.”