Freetown is the capital of Sierra Leona. With a population of around 1.8 million it is also the largest city in the country. It is located on a peninsula at the Atlantic coast. Freetown was founded in 1787 as a home for former slaves who returned to Africa.
In recent years the city’s inhabitants have had to experience a variety of hardships. From the Ebola outbreak in 2014, a devestating mudslide in 2017, to the COVID-19 pandemic, the population has had to face, and continues to face, many challenges.
Since 1974, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families, and advocating for their rights in Freetown.
Sierra Leone has one of the highest maternal mortality ratios in the world. Sierra Leone had a maternal mortality rate of 1,120 per 100,000 live births. This means that a significant number of women die during or shortly after childbirth.
This number shows the challenges faced by many women in Sierra Leone. Poor healthcare practices and sub-standard health care facilities in part account for the large number of deaths from childbirth.
The lack of facilities and healthcare practitioners means that women are at increased risk of dying from obstetric hemorrhage, hypertension, obstructed labour and sepsis.
Freetown has grown significantly in recent years and due to internal displacement during the years of the civil war, many people have settled into informal settlements. Nationally, around 60% of people living in cities in live in slums.
Informal housing are characterized by the lack of durable and permanent housing that protects against extreme weather conditions, sufficient living space, easy access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation. It is also a place where people suffer from many diseases because of the poor water and sanitation conditions. Diseases can spread easily either through contaminated water or the high population density.