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Informal settlements like Kroo Bay serve as home for at least 35% of the population of Freetown, which recently appointed an urban heat officer to help manage the effects of climate change. 

 

Informal settlements like Kroo Bay serve as home for at least 35% of the population of Freetown, which recently appointed an urban heat officer to help manage the effects of climate change. 

 

Photo: Peter Yeung/Bloomberg CityLab

Africa’s First Heat Officer Faces a Daunting Task

In the capital of Sierra Leone, crowding and poverty complicate efforts to protect a city of 1.2 million from the effects of climate change. 

From a distance, Kroo Bay, a slum in Sierra Leone’s capital of Freetown, resembles a gigantic overheating engine: Thousands of rust-colored tin shacks stand in rows under the sweltering West African sun, divided only by trash-filled streams of sewage.

“It’s warm, warm, warm,” says Mariama Barrie, a 34-year-old mother of three who rents a one-room hut in the heart of the poverty-stricken district. “It feels like we’re being cooked alive. We’re cooking like pigs in here.”