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San Pablo CEU University – Inter-University Cooperation as a basis for an Experience of Urban Planning in Makeni (Sierra Leone)

By on August 30, 2016
San Pablo CEU University

Contact name and title
Luis Perea (PhD Architect, Lecturer in Urban Planning)


Title of activity

Description of activity
Staggering recen turban sprawl in the most deprived areas of the world is the biggest challenge faced by global habitability. Sub Saharan Africa will have 762,5 million new urban dwellers by 2050 according to UN-Habitat; a number that amounts to the total current population of Europe. The challenge is increased due to habitability deficiencies, scarce economic resources, lack of qualified personnel, weakness of the legislative framework, entrenched traditions and primary activities among other factors.
In this context, an experience of collaboration between universities (San Pablo CEU University in Madrid, Spain and University of Makeni, Sierra Leone) that, from 2013, involves the City Council of Makeni and the main local actors of the city emerges in 2009 in a process of strategic urban planning. During this process the people have understood, in the various participatory forums in Makeni (June 2013 eneros 2014 and 2016), the need for a coherent to guide the future of their city global framework.
The "Strategic Plan of Makeni" is a comprehensive long-term urban proposal, which provides a flexible future framework, focusing on the immediate priorities (basic infrastructure, health, education, vulnerable areas, …) from a short and medium-long term vision.
From the University, the global project works on 4 levels: training, research, action and volunteer, encouraging the creation of cross networks with other actors. The multidisciplinary approach from USPCEU is completed with support in the construction of buildings at the University of Makeni, training, workshops and the works of the Digital Fabrication Laboratory, emphasizing the realization of a low cost incubator that has been sent to a hospital in Makeni.
Sustainable Development Goal 11 targets relating to activity
11.1 By 2030, ensure access for all to adequate, safe and affordable housing and basic services and upgrade slums
11.2 By 2030, provide access to safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems for all, improving road safety, notably by expanding public transport, with special attention to the needs of those in vulnerable situations, women, children, persons with disabilities and older persons
11.3 By 2030, enhance inclusive and sustainable urbanization and capacity for participatory, integrated and sustainable human settlement planning and management in all countries
11.5 By 2030, significantly reduce the number of deaths and the number of people affected and substantially decrease the direct economic losses relative to global gross domestic product caused by disasters, including water-related disasters, with a focus on protecting the poor and people in vulnerable situations
11.6 By 2030, reduce the adverse per capita environmental impact of cities, including by paying special attention to air quality and municipal and other waste management
11.7 By 2030, provide universal access to safe, inclusive and accessible, green and public spaces, in particular for women and children, older persons and persons with disabilities
11.a Support positive economic, social and environmental links between urban, per-urban and rural areas by strengthening national and regional development planning
11.b By 2020, substantially increase the number of cities and human settlements adopting and implementing integrated policies and plans towards inclusion, resource efficiency, mitigation and adaptation to climate change, resilience to disasters, and develop and implement, in line with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, holistic disaster risk management at all levels
11.c Support least developed countries, including through financial and technical assistance, in building sustainable and resilient buildings utilizing local materials
Main themes of this activity
Slum Upgrading
Planning and Design
Information and Monitoring
Capacity Development
Climate Change
Changes that took place as a result of this activity
– Promoting the culture of planning among key local actors
– Strengthening institutional networks internationally and locally
– Implementation of 3 participatory processes in Makeni and a technical trip to Madrid with involvement of the City Council of Makeni
– Contribution of models, planimetric mapping and analytical basis as a tool for understanding the territory
– Proposals and planning documents for Makeni, which are being used as a key basis for decision-making
– Support for the construction of 3 buildings at Unimak (Aula Magna, Guest House and School Health) and producing and sending a low cost incubator to a hospital in Makeni
– Planning annual course of urban planning in Unimak (to start)
How the impact of the activity was measured
– Through internal reports that they are made semiannually.
– By continuing discussions with the University and the city of Makeni
– By evaluating the organizations that collaborates (Manos Unidas, UNDP, etc.)
– By involving people of Makeni in the various activities that are conducted year year
– Through internal assessments occasional
– By the progress of the work themselves in time
Links related to the activity
  • http://hdlabceu.wix.com/hdlabceu
Additional notes

Sierra Leone, one of the world's poorest countries, has its hopes in education, in training future professionals to assist in the development of the country. In this challenge Unimak, the University of Makeni, created by the Diocese of this city, is becoming a benchmark.

According to the latest UNDP Human Development, 2014 to 2013 data, Sierra Leone was ranked 183 of 187 countries listed. Although in recent years the country has improved in several indicators, it continues to face a difficult situation in terms of development. With 45.6 years of average life expectancy, Sierra Leone remains the lowest rate in the world. Education and living standards are enormous challenges facing society Leon saw.

Makeni City is located in the province of Bombali, one of the five provinces in northern Sierra Leone. It has an estimated population (in 2014 the detailed census will be updated after 10 years) of 420 561 inhabitants, organized in fourteen "chiefdoms" or regional headquarters. Bombali has the largest Christian population in the north of Sierra Leone with 30% of the population. The other 70% is Muslim. It is the second largest province in Sierra Leone, with a total area of 7,985 km².

Bombali is the poorest province in the country, with a population mainly of Limba and Temne ethnic groups, with a predominantly rural habitat.

Its capital and largest city is Makeni, the fourth largest city of Sierra Leone and the largest, with a population estimated 110,000 people. Makeni is the center of economic, financial and cultural life of northern Sierra Leone. The city is about 110 miles (177 km) northeast of the capital Freetown.

In rural areas, the population lives in villages whose average size is between 100 and 500 people. The rest of the population, excluding urban minimum living scattered or in clusters distributed throughout the country, feeding mainly of slash-and-burn subsistence, which is clearly insufficient. The most terrible misfortune that can be displayed quickly on contact with the people of the area is that over 80% of the child population, "Pikines" have chronic hunger.

The civil war that ravaged the country for more than ten years (1991-2003) was particularly cruel in this region, the heart of the rebels. His strategy of terror based on extreme violence, capture and use of child soldiers and massive destruction as a political weapon forced to flee, in this northern region, entire populations generating a famine.

Infant Mortality
The total estimated population, approximately 30% are under 10 years and 48% are under 18 years (school age). Infant mortality is around 24%, slightly higher than the national average of 182 deaths before 5years per 1000 births.

Maternal mortality
According to the latest MDG report, in 2014, Sierra Leone has the highest rate of maternal mortality in the world, with 1,100 deaths per 100,000 live births. This figure is creepy if it is put in context. In sub-Saharan Africa, the region where the higher the number, the average is 510 deaths per 100,000 live births, a figure that reaches 230 deaths on average for developing regions. And the fact of these countries is 14 times greater than in the developed world.

Extended diseases
AIDS and typhoid are widespread, 99% of children have parasites, malaria is endemic and chronic diarrhea for lack of safe water in the rivers. Only 30% of the population has access to well water. The rest of the people drink water from rivers and wetlands in the same places where she bathes and washes clothes. There are 3 doctors per 100,000 inhabitants on average in the country; Bombalila half is below. To this we must add that the war has left much of the orphan children. Life expectancy at birth is 39 years for men and 42 for women. There are an average of 6.23 births per woman. The reason lies in the rural character of the population. Every child is one more hand to work in the field, only method of survival.

Lack of food and ability to produce
There is no mechanized mining in the area and there is no market for inorganic fertilizers. Moreover, the population can not make organic fertilizer. This makes it the only agricultural practice applied is the traditional shifting cultivation with soil replenishment cycle of seven years after burning, 1 O2 crops. This fact coupled with the high population density means that food insecurity is one of the largest in Africa. Much of the rural population is fed only once a day. The rice is taken twice a week, and the rest of the power is based on fewer nutrients as tubers or leaves.

Chronic child malnutrition
According to the FAO, malnutrition affects the country to 70% of the population, a figure far exceeded in Bombali. In addition, from underweight to children born (the "Pikines" in the local Creole language), it is observed that child undernutrition begins before birth.

Discrimination against women
Female genital mutilation is widespread throughout the country. It is done through secret societies of women who perpetuate the tradition. Initiation, physically and psychologically traumatic for girls, has as its ultimate goal the subjection to the man and begins at 8 years. Girls can be married for 10 years. Therefore, girls are not sent to schools as much as children.

Child and adult illiteracy
Primary school enrollment is 50% with a tiny academic level. Children who learn to read do not earlier than 13 years. Rural schools, present in less than half of the population centers, have one teacher per school, with 150 students of all ages mean that in the best case, are divided into two or three groups uniting classes the first three years and three and at worst, into one. Only some of the senior students of primary or secondary are able to read and write. Most schools lack educational material, not only books but even notebooks or pencils to students. Education in these rural schools is practically limited to oral transmission of basic knowledge. English is the official language in the country but few children can understand. Secondary schooling does not reach 10%.

Makeni urban growth, lack of infrastructure and planning
Directly linked to the proposed project, the strong urban expansion, lack of technical and infrastructure deficits are critical issues. Throughout Sierra Leone there is no school of architecture and urban planning, and planning of the city and its surrounding territory is a huge challenge. Institutional strengthening and support in terms of urban planning is a priority in this context.

At the same time, like many other African cities, Makeni has a major deficit in basic infrastructure, especially water and sanitation, which poses serious diseases, problems and deaths. In the city there is no piped water system, which makes the population drink water from underground wells built, most unacceptable distances to latrines and pollution sources. The latrine at its most basic, a bit isolated and without ventilation hole, is the predominant sanitation system, generating significant adverse effects, including water pollution, cholera, attracting mosquitoes, diarrhea and malaria are some of the most serious.

The threat of Ebola
In addition, the Ebola outbreak that started in March in an area of Guinea bordering Sierra Leone border, has generated unprecedented deadly epidemic seriously threatening the entire country. It remains to be seen what the effects of this drama which, together with the loss of life, can be a brutal brake on the development of the territory at all levels are.
Between Makeni (Sierra Leone) and Madrid (Spain), there have been constant exchanges of emails, conversations, ideas and projects since 2009; two universities working together. The trigger was the result of a three year project financed by Las Rozas City Council called "Strengthening the educational capabilities of the University of Makeni". From here, the continuous initiatives established strong bases for symbiotic relationship between both universities: Unimak and CEU San Pablo.
The collaboration was made mainly from the CEU Faculty of Architecture. Since throughout Sierra Leone, nor in Unimak, there are no schools of architecture, the work between the two institutions have focused on the following points:
– Joint meetings with students and teachers to focus on jobs
– Questionnaires administered to teachers and students about different issues related to the campus of Unimak, Makeni city, construction and real-state market, …
– Unimak students help in how to approach local people contact, knowledge of the city, in the knowledge of the critical needs …
– Students and professors from the two universities have worked together in the first workshop, organized to reflect on the future of the city of Makeni
– The work of the Faculty of Architecture of the CEU, have been constantly exposed to students and teachers of Unimak, to have their vision and develop the work from a participatory approach
In short, while collaboration involves different disciplines at the two universities, all jobs are promoted from the participation and involvement of students and teachers of Unimak

– Collaboration between universities as critical element of Cooperation. Teaching support, equipment finance, planning campus, student involvement of two universities, support for future open architecture / planning. Also from the CEU school of Arquitecture in Madrid, the projects continue, and after, the works are completed and implemented in the trips to Makeni.
– Extension of collaboration to other areas and contact with the reality. With the Makeni City Council, Ropolon neighborhood, the college of St. Joseph … This has put the universities in direct contact with reality. In the urban scale, neighbourhood, in architecture, in social component to students and teachers the project has provided a unique opportunity to move from theory to practice in different fields of work to be organized.
– Long-term approach. Since that began in 2009, trust between universities is strengthened, working together improves, learning from mistakes. Long-term results are sought. The project is aware of the difficulties of solving immediately very complex realities.
In 2013, San Pablo CEU University, Unimak and the MCC initiated a process for planning the city of Makeni. From a strategic approach, this process included three participatory workshops in the city of Makeni (July 2013, January 2014 and January 2016).
Proposals, maps, a model of the city and other documentation has been provided in a process of three years. At this time, the City Council has enough information for implementing actions according with the global framework proposed.