Freetown, Sierra Leone

Freetown, Sierra Leone

The high rate of informal settlements and urban density in Freetown tested the traditional public health response to COVID-19 and encouraged innovation and experimentation. The Partnership for Healthy Cities supported the city in developing targeted risk communication for specific urban audiences.

This helped launch a #MaskUp Freetown campaign in collaboration with local fashion house Madam Wokie, complemented by intimate fireside “Let’s Talk about Corona with the Mayor” chats on social media to talk through concerns. Low-cost handwashing stations, which utilize rainwater harvesting, were constructed to remove barriers to hand washing.

Moving forward, Freetown is working to develop and implement nutrition standards to reduce salt in market areas and hospitals, targeting the link between sodium consumption and the prevalence of NCDs.

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Tackling the interplay between food security and COVID-19 containment within informal settlements: Freetown, Sierra Leone

The high rate of informal settlements and urban density in Freetown has tested the traditional public health response to COVID-19. With 68 informal settlements housing 35% of its population, the city has leaned on innovation and experimentation to implement virus containment measures in densely populated communities with low or no personal savings or food reserves. The city leveraged lessons from the 2014-2016 Ebola outbreak to rapidly deploy a number of social protection interventions, such as providing emergency food packages and initiating an urban farming initiative—both supporting sustainable access to nutritious food and building resilience to future crises.