Freetown through a citizens’ media lens – neighbourhood planning using participatory photography

I facilitated a one-week workshop in Freetown, Sierra Leone in February 2018 as a collaboration between the Bartlett Development Planning Unit at University College London and the Sierra Leone Urban Research Centre. The workshop brought together a group of ten participants from two Freetown informal settlements, Cockle Bay and Dwarzack, in order to utilise a participatory photography (PP) methodology that could feed into the ongoing SLURC research on ‘The Role of Action Area Plans for Inclusive City-Making in Freetown’.


The workshop design encouraged participants to consider issues of their choosing faced by their communities, to explain the context of these issues and their impact on residents, consider both current and potential solutions, and finally to include barriers to these.


The workshop also emerged from consideration of the role that citizens’ media could play in urban planning, and how groups of citizen journalists could use photography as a tool to self-represent, tell their own narratives, recodify collective identities and interact with mainstream media discourses. A long-term intention for the legacy of the workshop is to begin developing a network of potential citizen journalists who could continue to produce audio-visual outputs for SLURC.