Transforming Bo’s Dump into a Park

Stepwise Transformation of an old illegal dumpsite in the City of Bo for recreation

  • 20-acre piece of land was leased out to Bo town in early 1950s for development into a public park to be named “Peaston Park”, the town council was to regularly pay annual lease rent to the land holding families (three families) .
  • Transition of Bo from town to city status, degeneration of Sierra Leone into 11 years of civil war and lawlessness and a lull that ensured in keeping with the agreements lead to some land holding families and town officials to informally repossess and hive off the land for private development.
  • The 20-acre parcel of land was overtime encroached and transformed into mixed development leaving only 3.6 acres that was turned into an illegal dumpsite, a hideout for criminals, and other small scale businesses
  • Waste piled up over the years to more than three metres high, temporary structures continued to spread on top of the waste piles, some section turned into open defecation sites while other areas remained under continuous fire making it one of the worst pollution sources in the city.
Makeshift bridge at Bomeh
Smoke from Bomeh dumpsite illegal structures

Reclamation process

  • The law of Sierra Leone gives the right to an individual to own a piece of land as long as he/she has illegally been operating on it for more than 10 years without objection from any claimant. Even though it was not clear how long the illegal settlement on Bomeh dumpsite had been, the repossession had to be a negotiated.
  • A working committee comprising the land holding families, paramount chief, the Bo city council, the civil society, Environmental protection agency among others was set up and headed by the senior district officer.
    The team did an assessment of the illegal settlement (including actual ownership) and their values at the Bomeh site and a time line for relocation including nominal compensation rate to enable them remove their structures
  • Proposed development design was prepared and approved by the working committee
  • Political goodwill was also sought by organizing a delegation to the Vice President to present the proposed design for Bomeh and hence the reason for his support.
  • One of the business owner at Bomeh disputed the development and related relocation and sought court protection against the project listing the Paramount chief as first respondent and the Mayor of Bo city council the second. The level of interest and rejection from across the stakeholder committee against the case forced the court to visit Bomeh site from where the chief judge ordered immediate clearance and restoration of the site through the proposed project basing judgement on the potential environmental and health hazards.
  • All the illegal structures were marked and official notice for site clearance issued, compensation dates set and contract issued to commence site clearance
Bomeh Site clearance and construction of box culvert
Artist’s impression of the new park

Challenges

  • Waste volumes on areas under structures were too higher than what had been envisaged during project formulation and budgeting. The project had transported 30,000 tons of waste as was provided for in the budget, but this only covered 1.5mters top layer, more than 2 metres of clearance still required to reach the level upon which the planned facilities could be installed.
  • Most parts of the site on high water table/swampy texture hence would require high volume of backfilling during fencing and levelling for the intended aesthetics
  • Budget deficit and call for the review of the site plan to reduce on costs
    Development status and way forward
  • The entire 3.6 acres cleared of all illegal structures and 30,000 tons of waste cleared.
  • Tender already advertised sourcing for a contractor to build the perimeter fence to secure the land
  • Additional funding being sourced to meet the site clearance, backfilling and aesthetics. Strategy is to do manual screening of all inorganic waste using manual labour through food for work contractual procedure. World Food Program of the United Nations have agreed to provide assorted food items in support of the project.
  • A review of proposed structures for the recreation facility is ongoing to reduce on cost. Innovative approach to certain proposed infrastructure are under consideration to maintain high level aesthetics while at the same time reducing the cost – value for money

Intensive training for teachers in Bo

Carl Zammit provided two days of intensive training for teachers in Bo

This visit was designed to deliver training workshops for primary and secondary school teachers and also to establish links between teachers in Bo and Freetown.

I visited Bo between the 21st-24th August and was greeted on arrival by Maada, John Sandie and around 8 other members of OWL Bo who were incredibly helpful in rallying teachers for the workshops. The teachers deserve so much credit for coming – it was terrible weather (rainy season) and most were working at summer schools in the mornings. Despite this, around 25-35 attended on both days.

The first day started with some philosophising and discussion about the roles of teachers; what personalities, characteristics, and skills students should have on leaving school. This debate and feedback session went a long way in allowing different ideas from different types of teachers be exchanged it was a very fruitful and animated discussion.

We then considered the merits of student centred learning as opposed to the more regimented, rote learning that is common across much of Sierra Leone. We invented stories, made and played top trumps, worked out Sudoku problems, and played various versions of dominoes among other things! They also learned how to produce the learning resources in an easy and sustainable way to build up resource stores at their school. We rounded off the first workshop with lesson planning.

The second day focused on starter activities (including the adapted classics of hangman, bingo, categories and other puzzles) whic
h were aimed at engaging the students at the start of each lesson (the most important or ‘golden 5 minutes’). We also discussed behaviour strategies including alternatives to the cane that focus on rewarding good behaviour as opposed to punishing the bad. The teachers shared some great ideas with each other and many said that they wanted to adopt a house system in their school for merits. Finally we played some more games to promote student centred learning.

I have contacted many of the teachers since then and hope to build on the relationships. One way I am doing this is by creating 2 facebook groups – the Sierra Leone Teaching Zone and the Sierra Leone Learning Zone (the former for teachers, the latter for students). By updating with new resources, ideas, quotes, links to websites, and quizzes, I hope to keep conversing and equipping the teachers and students.

All in all it was a very fruitful trip and I can’t thank enough all the people that helped set it up. A special mention to the OWL centre caretaker Mohammed who was unbelievably helpful and cheery!

Bo schools celebrate the Day of the African Child – in style!

Bo schools celebrate the Day of the African Child – in style!

Schools in Bo took to the streets with a brass band and banners. They carried placards with messages such as “Parents to send your children to school”, “Lets act now to keep girls in school” and “Say No to child labour”

 

BDEC School Messima’s new pump

BDEC School Messima’s new pump

BDEC School Messima have completed the installation of a new water pump to the delight of children and staff. They texted “Hello all we r so happy today we the staff and pupils of the BDEC school Messima for the installation of our pump today. A big thanks to st Magretes school in the UK for sponsoring us.” The children sang “If you’re happy and you know it say Thank You…” as you can see in this video

Waste Project extends to Makeni and Kenema

Extending the Waste Management Project

UK Aid has also recognised the significant contribution being made by improved waste management in Bo city by contributing to a roll out programme for the cities of Kenema and Makeni adopting the good practice already established within Bo. Implemented by Welthungerhilfe, a German international non-governmental organisation, “The Improved Waste Management Project” started in Bo as a pilot and is currently being rolled out to Kenema and Makeni cities in Sierra Leone with support from the UK Government.

Glenn and Derek visited the the sites designated for waste landfill in these two cities. They made recommendations for their layout and management, with detailed advice on best practice for managing landfill and compost sites to minimise litter, odours,bird nuisance, vermin and fire risk.

Read their report

Kenema – present waste dumped on banks
Makeni – proposed landfill site

From dump to public park

From dump to public park

Bo council have decided that the Bomerh (the old, unregulated ‘central dump’ in town) is to be converted into a public park with sports pitches. It is the last and largest of the 134 illegal dumpsites in Bo city whose clearance has been delayed due to logistics and the resources required and the need to resettle illegal settlers who had encroached some of its sections for businesses.
Work commenced in May to reprofile the 3.2-acre site. The proposed rehabilitation will provide recreational open space which is currently lacking in the city. The ambitious scheme will include a multipurpose sports surface, walkways and picnic areas. A stream passing through the site will be re-profiled to make a water feature.
At the same time the District Medical Officer of Health has openly declared that in his opinion the reduction level from 60% of the population of Bo likely to contract malaria down to 40% in Bo city can be explained by the closure of the open dumps and the improvements to waste collection and management services by the project.

Read the Bomerh rehabilitation report by Glenn Fleet and Derek Greedy in our archive

Artist’s impression of the new park
Clearing the Bomerh

 

Update on the Waste Project

The Waste Project continues to grow

Why would a friendship link like One World Link become involved in developing the waste disposal system for the City of Bo? The answer is that we have been able to bring together specialists from our own county with our friends in Bo City Council.

As you may have read in past articles, it all started with a study of the needs of the Council, then developed into a pilot project that has now become a full-blown internationally funded programme from our very own government.

The pilot showed that a skip type of collection service for this community was the right way to go. No real room to have large lorries moving between households, so now Bo’s rubbish is collected in skips. Each skip is strategically placed around the city to accommodate as much of the population as possible, (more skips will always be welcomed). Each location has a minimum of two skips to enable both garden and food waste to be separated from the general waste after all the dry recycles are removed. This is the principle of the operation, but in reality it does not work fully, thus still more behaviour change is need to Waste disposal – a national flagship project Glenn Fleet returns to Bo to find that the project has continued to develop despite the Ebola outbreak get users to separate the material (it will come in time).

At the front end of the operation a youth organisation, Klin Bo Services, are contracted to gather waste door-to-door for a small fee or, if the residents do not want to pay, they may take their own waste to the skips. The process of sorting the recycles forms part of the youth organisation’s contract and they can sell on the recycles.

The council then take the skips to official disposal site. This site is presently being developed to accommodate not just the disposal of the general waste, but also to process the green waste into compost. Some £300,000 will be spent on this part of the project, which includes the development of the road, new building, a machine to shred the green waste and a weighbridge. On top of this, two second-hand skip lorries have been purchased. These lorries are well built and should last for many years if looked after. Only a small proportion of the city is covered so far and there is much to do to expand the scheme and to make it sustainable in the long term but a major triumph is that it never stopped during the Ebola crisis and the Ebola outbreak is now over, fingers crossed.

Recycling aluminium

Recycling and re-use are important aspects of the project. Fifteen small local enterprises are now involved in recycling waste and turning it into a profit. They came up with a variety of ideas and were finally chosen for project support in open competitions. Their ideas range from composting waste to making handbags, pots, slippers and bio-charcoal, and even making dolls’ houses out of paper waste. A potentially large industry could come from manufacturing pavestones out of waste plastic.

The four-year project is managed by Bo City Council with WHH of Germany, and is funded by £3.2 million of British aid, a long way to go. For more detail, including some excellent video, see the project Facebook page: Aluminium waste is turned into cooking pots.

 

The Clean Streets of Bo

A successful clean-up operation.

The streets of Bo City are cleaner than ever thanks to their waste management programme in which One World Link and Warwickshire County Council have played a vital role. A photographic report by DFID (UK government aid) shows litter–free streets in all parts of the city. OWL and WCC supported Bo City Council in setting up a pilot project for waste management and now that project has been extended with support from DFID with results that you can see in these pictures. See their report…

Schools maintain contact despite Ebola

Schools maintain contact despite Ebola

Throughout the Ebola crisis schools here were able to make contact with some of their link teachers by text, sending messages of support and sympathy. We have only heard of the death of one pupil and one teacher. The schools in Bo were closed for 9 months and some buildings have suffered damage due to lack of maintenance. We cannot imagine how difficult that long period of confinement with little social interaction was like. The whole education system was thrown into turmoil with pupils not able to sit their exams and proceed to the next grade.

When they re-opened in April 2015 we heard from one school that many pupils were slow to return due to fear of the virus, since the official ‘all-clear’ wasn’t announced til October. Many Leamington and Warwick schools broke with our usual protocol and held fundraising events for post-Ebola support (always popular- cake sales, non-uniform days and even a ‘Boogie for Bo’ outdoor disco!) We are currently working on an exchange project where pupils are writing about ‘Keeping ourselves safe’. Children here have made posters and written texts about aspects of safety such as food hygiene, road and water safety and Esafety. We are very much looking forward to receiving the work from Bo to see what aspects of safety their pupils have chosen to write about.

Mair and Paul will be meeting many of the link teachers and visiting some of our schools so we look forward to hearing up-dates on their return. We hope that we shall be able to send another group of teachers to Bo under the “Connecting Classrooms” scheme of the British Council and a return visit by teachers from Bo during 2017. Meanwhile, plans are already underway for our next Day of the African Child here in Leamington, June 2016