Sierra Leone Trip – January 2013 Day 5

17th January 2013 | Posted in Nigel's Blog

Day 5

The hotel has the hang of  the air conditioner but you know the moment it goes off the bass section of the adjacent disco cuts in.  Returned to daily bucket – that water is bracing.  Home I hear it is snowing – Here in the 30s and a bit of cold water – what a softy.

Breakfast on a bit of concrete but in the shade and Peter arrives.  That flight is a killer – all night, new entry system, drive, ferry with unmentionable toilets (did I just mention them) unload drive and hotel – and water in a bucket.  Great to have him here.  Whirlwind briefing and 10 minutes later left Peter and Alison to attend the meeting I was supposed to be in at Lifelines to settle on project aspects.  Instead in the car to join the Freetown’s car park (Traffic does not always flow well here – it really makes you appreciate traffic lights if you are in a city without any).

Meet Abu as Patrick has an embassy meeting so off to meet the head of the Presidents Policy unit.  This is a different meeting, people kept entering the room and soon surrounded by 8 policy analysts and advisors and the Presidents top strategy man.  Asked to make my proposal.  Just get started and Patrick joins the meeting.  In an hour, low income housing is on the agenda.  This is significant.  Patrick outstanding highlighting the national issues involved – that all stem from saying people should not have to live like this.  Many who simply die early because their parents made a home in an open sewer!

Some stimulating input and realised that it’s an area everyone knows about but no one is doing anything.  It seems an EU proposal spent a significant amount of money doing a feasibility study and then nothing happened 2 years ago.  The Policy Unit will start to develop a strategy and we will make an updated proposal – amazing can go to a country and in 3 days set an agenda!

And so to coffee and e mail.  Peter and Alison join me after agreeing the key things at Lifelines – we are all set to go and building programme set.  Even Lunch on  first day organised, hope the team can stay awake after the flight!

Alison headed off to meet a wonderful man about how we register our new vehicle.  Turns out there is more cost ahead!  Every aspect of life here has to be paid as people simply have such little money.  If you want help you pay the person, his transport and his costs as without it he has no ability to do the job.

Peter and I then joined Abu and Patrick with the Presidents Chief of Staff.  He covers the President’s agenda.   First man I met who has a clear view on this summarised as:

  • Show me significant money in a Freetown bank and I’ll see you are helped with land
  • Slum upgrade not on the agenda – we want all these people relocated and the seafront of Freetown developed with high rise, shopping centres etc.
  • We don’t use the term forced eviction – we encourage people to move!
  • There is a huge property development opportunity.  With land and high rise then a couple of floors could house the poor and rest for prime development.  Profits form it can build homes elsewhere.

No one in NGO world is proposing or doing anything on housing.  They have made some for profit deals with Chinese giving tax breaks for private sector development.

If the concept can come to reality then they would be interested and like the credit.

So, much to reflect on and come back with a plan.  Peter Alison and I headed to the beach bar for a drink and brief Peter on team programme.  Fun hour  – Alison is good at this!  Then in car and off to dinner at Joule Africa house with Jeremy Grace and Anul.  Even their home ($5,000 per month) had no running water, though pleasant environment.  Had great meal and covered perspectives on the challenges of investing in Sierra Leone, the fun of flying and people’s behaviour, Cameroon, housing, family and South Africa.  Greta food too – Thanks Theresa!  Then home to bed and a bucket of cold water.  But moved Peters room first to a smaller one at the back of the hotel

Leave a reply