Shelter for Africa is a non-government not-for-profit organisation
that carries out low-cost housing construction and develops commerce
and trade through various support activities for the people of the
Republic of Sierra Leone in West Africa.
infamous Diamond War of the Nineties ravaged the country for over
ten years. By the conclusion of the war, the Republic’s economy
was left in ruins. Many people’s houses as well as public
facilities were destroyed. A large part of the population had been
displaced. During the fighting, refugees travelled in the hundreds
of thousands to neighbouring countries like Guinea and Liberia to
escape the fighting. Those that stayed behind were terrorised by
the insurgent rebel movement. Many of them were tortured, maimed
many years, even before the outbreak of the Diamond War, there had
been an acute housing and accommodation shortage in Sierra Leone.
Construction of dwellings was mainly dependent on imported materials
such as corrugated iron sheets for roofing, cement, reinforcing
steel and other imported materials. The cost of these construction
materials made even simple housing beyond the reach of ordinary
people. The crisis became even worse with the outbreak of the War,
when houses were set ablaze and even temporary shelters burnt down.
Hundred Thousands of people were made homeless and became refugees.
help the people of Sierra Leone back to their feet, Shelter for
Africa is running projects aimed at engaging people in income-generating
activities to become independent of international charity. Its projects
focus on the construction of housing and the development of commerce
using affordable technologies that are appropriate to the people’s
needs. The technologies draw on locally available resources instead
of unaffordable imports.
1995 the co-founder of Shelter for Africa, Mr. Elijah Gegra, set
up the first Training Centre in the Capital City, Freetown. The
Centre provides people with essential skills for housing construction
using “Intermediate Technology”, and emphasising the
use of locally available resources. Fortunately the Training Centre
survived the invasion of Freetown by the insurgent rebel movement
in early 1998. Shelter for Africa was then founded later that year
to lay the foundations for the expansion of the Training Centre.
The educational programme subsequently branched out into the business
and commerce fields. Men, women and the youth were now being provided
basic skills to prepare them for engaging in trade, and setting
up their own businesses.
and children were particularly vulnerable during the War. Many children
as young as six were forced into combat as soldiers of the invading
rebel forces. This left them highly traumatised and unable to deal
with the world around them. Shelter for Africa therefore directs
special effort into involving them in its projects to help them
reintegrate into society.