World Mayor 20/21

Freetown mayor Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr
Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr, Mayor of Freetown, Sierra Leone, since 2018
World Mayor Nominations 20/21
Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr, Mayor of Freetown, Sierra Leone

The 20/21 World Mayor Prize and Commendations will be conferred on mayors who have been showing leadership during the Covid-19 pandemic and who are now aiming to make their cities more resilient economically, structurally, socially and environmentally. In fact: Stronger | Fairer | Greener. The organisers of the World Mayor Project are looking for mayors who have shown exceptional leadership skills but also, and more importantly, acted at all times with compassion towards those most affected by Covid-19. The pandemic has shown how vulnerable even the richest cities are when confronted with a disaster like Covid-19. Forward-looking city leaders will now begin to re-think how their communities can be better protected against future threats, both natural and man-made.

Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr, Mayor of Freetown, Sierra Leone, has been nominated for the 20/21 World Mayor Prize.

You may wish to support her further and comment on her achievements and plans for her city.

About World Mayor
City Mayors Foundation


- Longlist 20/21
- Selection criteria
- Covid-19
- World Mayor history
- World Mayor Prize
- Poverty
- Code of Ethics

- Mayor of Amsterdam
- Mayor of Arnhem
- Mayor of Bergamo
- Mayor of Braga
- Mayor of Bratislava
- Mayor of Carmignano
- Mayor of Cascais
- Mayor of Compton
- Mayor of Dantumadiel
- Mayor of Freetown
- Mayor of Kuala Lumpur
- Mayor of Mannheim
- Mayor of Mexico City
- Mayor of Milan
- Mayor of Rotterdam
- Mayor of Saint-Omer
- Mayor of San Bellino
- Mayor of Villa del Conte
- Mayor of Warsaw










Nominations for
Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr
Mayor of Freetown (Sierra Leone)

Nominated by Eleanor T., Freetown:
In 2020, under Mayor Aki-Sawyerr’s leadership, the Freetown City Council introduced a new property tax system to ensure the more equitable payment of property taxes while increasing the city‚s revenue generating potential exponentially. Unfortunately, additional procedural hurdles put in place by the central government, which also shares the capital city of Freetown as its seat of power, has delayed the implementation of the new system. In spite of budget allocation and revenue generation challenges throughout 2020 at a time when COVID-19‚s economic impact was being felt by the world, Mayor Aki-Sawyerr ensured the distribution of 90,000 locally produced masks and 100 hand washing stations in markets and embarked on a market restructuring project to ensure that Freetonians would still have access to essential goods while keeping safe. She also established a crèche/nursery for market sellers so that their livelihood activities would not be disrupted because of childcare responsibilities and the children would have a safe environment to learn and play.

During the pandemic, the FCC maintained efforts to ensure a clean and healthy environment with the flood mitigation exercise that had been initiated from her first year in office. The significance of this in Freetown may not be immediately apparent to the outsider. Every year during the torrential downpours of the rainy season, the city suffers devastating floods and there are usually fatalities and complete loss of homes and property, especially in the low-lying slum communities throughout the city. Apart from the tragic nature of this every year, having floods wipe out what little many had and were hanging on to during the economic downturn during the COVID pandemic would have been devastating. Flood mitigation helped avert large disasters in 2020.

During 2020, Mayor Aki-Sawyerr also used the opportunity to promote a clean healthy environment and fight the adverse effects of massive deforestation in the city by pushing forward the FCC’s ‘Freetown the Tree Town’ initiative to build environmental resilience by planting at least 50,000 (based on my knowledge and calculations) trees in the city. Sierra Leone is notoriously known as the 3rd most vulnerable country in the world to climate change and our capital city, Freetown, has been an example of that with mudslides and the massive flooding referred to above. In addition to ensuring a disaster-free environment to not compound the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, having trees and outdoor spaces where people can get oxygen and breathe clean air is important when dealing with a respiratory virus.

Finally, Mayor Aki-Sawyerr led the Freetown City Council‚s production of an animated mini series called ‘Rona & Bola’, which in a fun and engaging way shows the differences between COVID-19 and Ebola while reinforcing key COVID-19 prevention messages. Especially as the second wave of COVID-19 hit, this mini series has been instrumental to reminding Freetonians (and Sierra Leoneans more broadly) to remain vigilant in a way that they understand by drawing on their understanding and experience during the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone.

Nominated by Annipha S., Freetown:
As a female mayor who excels in identifying problems and finding solutions, Ms. Aki-Sawyerr has saved Freetown a considerable amount by speeding up project execution, which has led to flood prevention, pollution to the environment, which has yielded a healthy life with immense drop in the disease rate as compared to preceding rates. However, her track record tells her story better than I can.

Challenges for Freetown:
Taking my childhood as an example, I have always admired walkable and bikeable neighbourhoods because they were friendly to walkers and yielded inhabitants (such as myself) good health and long life. To say the least, my idea for a fairer and stronger city is for inhabitants to have access to several health, environmental, and even economic benefits such as unpolluted water supply, an environment that improves mood, boosts energy and combats diseases; quality levels of education, on the family unit and on employment levels.

Nominated by Ahmid C. J., Freetown:
In less than 3 years in the role, residents of Freetown are already calling her the Best Mayor in the history of the city. Aki-Sawyerr is a development enthusiast with a proven track record of leading development initiatives across the globe. Now that she is the mayor, she has localized her vision of a better world through her transform Freetown agenda where has already delivered key performance indicators in the areas of waste management, tax collection, urban mobility, environmental sustainability etc.

Amongst many of her brilliant ideas, I can choose the Freetown, the Treetown campaign as one of the most understanding. This is an initiative to plant and grow 1 million trees to combat the impact of climate change, restore biodiversity loss and help to stabilize the upper catchment areas across selected communities in Freetown. This project has also provided awareness on environmental sustainability, provided jobs for young people, and with many fruits planted, it will surely provided livelihood for many future generations.

Summarily, Aki-Sawyerr is a gold jewel here in Freetown, despite all the political and gender constraints, she keeps delivering values for her people. No wonder she is so loved here. Her beautiful smile is a reflect of her good intentions for the people she is so proud to serve Freetownians.

I believe all mayors in this list are deserving but Aki-sawyer is the most deserving when the consider the level of sacrifice and passion in service.

Challenges for Freetown:
As a 27-year climate change activist living here in Freetown, I am working on an initiative to transform organic waste to organic manure. This will help to solve the landfill problem, smokes and all other unhygienic crisis associated with dumping of waste in Freetown. It will also provide jobs for young people.

Nominated by Samuel B. V., Sierra Leone:
Mayor Aki Sawyer is a dedicated and hardworking person that loves the county and always work towards Development

Challenges for Freetown:
Development should not be based on any political ideas but making sure that Essen services are provided and enjoyed by all

Nominated by Richard B., Freetown:
Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr OBE was sworn in May 2018 with a commitment to transform the city of Freetown using an inclusive, data-driven approach to address challenges in the city. The 3-year ŒTransform Freetown‚ plan details 19 concrete targets across 11 sectors and covers issues ranging from tackling environmental degradation to facilitating the creation of jobs in the tourism sector.

Challenges for Freetown:
My city has suffered many disasters which are attributed to climate change as a result of human activities before now it used to be a very beautiful city surrounded by mountains and trees. Growing trees is our only hope for a cleaner and safer community, trees are not only to be planted but should be cared for and grown, my idea is if every tree if every tree had someone looking after it then it will cannot just be cut down or destroyed.

Nominated by David J. A., Freetown:
Am supporting the Mayor of Freetown for this position of her strong passion for Climate Change, protection and management of the environment through the Transform Freetown project.

Secondly, her interest in a foresting the deforested areas in the Western Area of our country, and especially the several projects she is implementing through community structures in averting the frequent of flash floods that usually destabilise the city in every rainy season. As a result of this projects most these floods have minimize since she started those projects. In light of the above I will request on to every Sierra Leonean to vote for her.

Challenges for Freetown:
Like the current projects implemented by the Freetown City Council, Transform Freetown and Freetown the Tree Town to name a few a key to address the above questions.

The Freetown the Tree Town project, which am part of as community base organization is highly contributing so many issues raging from disaster, economic, social and deforestation that has been affecting the living standards of the inhabitants of the capital city.

My organization is in full collaboration with the Freetown City Council and it's partners in ensuring that the dreams of the Mayor, Yvonne Akin Sawyerr comes to reality and citizens benefit from them all.

Nominated by Golga F., Freetown:
Since Mayor Yvonne entered office in 2018, she has worked hard to create positive changes in Freetown. Her initiative to create a greener Freetown included the monthly community based cleaning day which had a large impact on all of its citizens.

Moreover, her commitment to transform Freetown using an inclusive, data-driven approach to address challenges in the city is very community-oriented. Residents of Freetown have an opportunity to active help plant and grow their own trees for a greener future. Her vision for a greener Freetown ties into traditional practices among many in the country. Thus it brings the people together. This gives a sense of ownership and pride to every Sierra Leonean that wishes to create a more sustainable city.

This was effective in building trust and establishing a sense of unity which also helped to bring a quick response to the corona pandemic in collaboration with the Ministry of Health. She immediately launched health promotion campaigns in krio and used channels that would spread awareness and knowledge to everyone.

Challenges for Freetown:
My ideas for a greener Freetown is to incorporate health in all policies and sectors in Sierra Leone. All major leaders must unite to discuss a holistic approach to creating a more sustainable and environmentally friendly city.

Nominated by JAB, Freetown:
The Mayor of Freetown ss a selfless Lady! Her fear and trust in God has led her this far as one of the most distinguished Ladies in our Society and outside of Sierra Leone!! Her word is her bond, no matter the obstacles which have been abundant she has never given up but persevered With deligence, wisdom and pushing her plans for a better Freetown for Freetonians! Our city is cleaner than it has ever been her idea of making Freetown into a Greentown by planting 1.000,000 trees in the city was a brilliant one! She is working hard with international partners to involve Freetown /Freetonians in different areas that will enhance the lives of the citizens and the City!

Her humility is one of a kind . If I were to vote for her for a second term I will not hesitate as she has made life more bearable for many Freetonians even though it‚s been a trying time for her! Working with her team on healthcare/education has also been of importance in her agenda and she has found a way of creating jobs for youths/street boys in the city .. what a man can do a woman can do better!!!

Mayor Yvonne Aki Sawyerr deserves this award for her dedication / perseverance / humility/ love for people in general and most of all her Intelligence that she puts to work 99.9% of the time!

Challenges for Freetown:
Every household with space must plant at least 3 trees and/shrubs and flowers. Educating the layman on the importance of a greener city! Governments must demarcate areas that must remain Greenland and ensure that all rules and regulations are adhered to! Children must have a few minutes each day after lunch during assembly where they will have a verse they recite each day that will remind them of the importance of having a green city .

Nominated by Sununu B. I. B., Freetown:
The Mayor has been exemplary and created projects that has helped in flood mitigation, education and also in beautifying the city. Through her transform Freetown project we have seen a clean city with clear drainage and also road construction for areas winning the clean Freetown initiative, she's a big fan of climate issues and has instituted means to avoid burning dirt or throwing them on water way or streams. There are times levied for defaulters and in some cases, jail term.

Nominated by Dawda S., outside Sierra Leone:
She is a female among the rest of African list of mayors. her hard work and dedication to improve the city of Freetown, dedicated herself to an inclusive vision of the city's renewal. She introduced the planting of over one million trees just in one year. Making life better for girls in the city by improving their schools and encouraged them to go to school. She is strong doesn‚t encourage intimidation from the ruling government.

Nominated by Abdul M. S., Freetown:
Since Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr took up office as the Mayor of our city, she has proved tremendously well by providing a very outstanding Administrative work for resident within the District. She has also implemented project like the trees replacement, zonal cleaning challenge, coastal design, disaster prone area mitigation, et al. Also, serving as a female mayor has awaken other women to stand firm in Development within the District.

Challenges for Freetown:
To plant more trees, to provide ways to go against plastic waste.

Nominated by Bashiru, outside Sierra Leone:
I believe Her worship Sawyer deserves this price, because she has shown and is still showing what women can do in leadership. She is successfully implementing the Transform Freetown initiative. Among other sustainable city pillars / plans, she is regularly carrying on the 'clean Freetown' exercise to make sure the city is safe.

Nominated by Ibrahim K. C., Sierra Leone:
She's more than qualify for the award of world mayor price, she had been inpactful to many lives across the nation and even beyond, she's a virtuous women ready to work hand and gloves with whoever.

Challenges for Freetown:
Reduce plastic product

Nominated by Ekundayo M. S., Freetown:
I am strongly in support of my Freetown Mayor Yvonne Aki Sawyerr OBE, she is a development oriented person. This short time she has brought many good project for our city.

Nominated by Santigie C., Freetown:
She is a great leader who has overcome many challenges and has fought hand in hand with the government in a fight against the deadly pandemic. She promotes gender equality and has great respect for nature. She has implemented projects of planting trees to restore the nature we have lost due to human activities.

Also, she is not partisan, despite being a mayor under the ticket of the opposition party, she has been working collaboratively with all other stakeholders in the city to maintain its standard. She has also supported CBO's on the city and other grassroots organization, which aims at empowering women

Nominated by Ismaila A. B., Freetown:
Yvonne Aki Sawyerr OBE is very developmental focus, honest woman even before she became the mayor of Freetown furthermore her blessings, hard work, intelligence and team work is commendable.

In just few years as the Mayor (mother) in the municipality her presence is felt all over Freetown and beyond, moreover the every day cleaning excises, creating new standard waste management team all over have change the look of every community in our city and many other projects on going so their for I give my support to her worship Yvonne Aki Sawyerr OBE

Nominated by Augustine S. B., Freetown:
Mayor Yvonne Aki-Sawyer has proven her leadership prowess by bringing to the city of Freetown cutting-edge modern solutions to the problems of climate change, health, environmental abuse and poverty.

Challenges for Freetown:
Strong government policies and implementation mechanisms is integral to enhance a stronger, fairer and greener cities.

Nominated by Fred K. S. M., Freetown:
She took proactive steps and supported NACOVERC in ensuring that Covid 19 spread rate within the city is reduced. This was experienced by Freetown City Council collaboration with stakeholders in the fight against Covid 19

Challenges for Freetown:
More trees could be planted.

Nominated by Joseph F. B., Sierra Leone:
Working as the delivery team leader for the presidential recovery priorities, Yvonne became more aware of the challenges of every sector of the minorities department and agencies and with the desire to serve her country, she has strived well beyond expectations in improving and still working hard with her team to see that the lost glories of the Freetown is restored. She is passionate about her drive and the energy is high.

Nominated by John A.-G., outside Sierra Leone:
Her unstinting leadership, direction and planning to transform a historic but desperately under-resourced city into a proud organised and green symbol of hope in the midst of considerable political challenges from the sitting government.

Challenges for Freetown:
Financial incentives from world bodies for poorer cities to adopt greener policies and arrangements.

Nominated by Kate, Sierra Leone:
Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr is an inspiring public servant in Sierra Leone. It is evident she serves the people of her city - not herself or her wallet. This is made clear through her many efforts to progress Freetown into a modern, clean metropolitan city, while also promoting programs that prtect the vulnerable, such as providing thousands of masks to market women during the pandemic.

Nominated by Alimaty S., Freetown:
Mayor Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr has succeeded in bringing education to the rural market places in the city , she has also ensured an hygienic atmosphere in places that used to be renowned for filth and unhygienic activities. I believe she's the best we've ever had. Giving her this award I'm positive would motivate her to do even more.

Nominated by Karamoh K., Freetown:
Mayor Yvonne Ali- Sawyerr has overcomes all major obstacles in a chauvinist country, a culture grounded in a tradition that doesn‚t favor women in authority to improve on services and work to modernize a city that‚s well known for archaic system. Ski-Sawyerr is a woman of virtue and conviction ˜ she‚s committed to her job and loves her city. She also strong on environmental issues.

Challenges for Freetown:
Freetown is in need of large canals to serve as mountain drainage system, serve as drainage for ribose and avoidance of flooding as well as beautification of the city.

Nominated by Valnora E., Freetown:
Our mayor of Freetown has shown exemplary leadership in a city that has over the years degenerated into a slum. She has designed new initiatives to get every resident involved and established mechanisms for engagement when residents have issues with some of the policies. She has an open door policy and willing to debate and engage on issues affecting the various categories of her residents. She has for the first time designed a zonal system, digitized and easily accessible. She has pushed hard to ensure the city is clean. Though faced with a number of challenges she has been relentless in her efforts. An example that one can hold public office and deliver what the citizens require

Nominated by Mohamed S., Freetown:
She is a woman of substance. She has transformed the City of Freetown. I believe in her.

Nominated by NAN, Freetown:
Mayor Yvonne Aki Sawyerr has been very proactive during this epidemic, working alongside the national COVID 19 response to reach out to her subjects with preventive messages. She has supported the "mask up" campaign and facilitated the wide coverage of the messages.

She is an avid supporter of a greener society and is currently on "make Freetown green again" campaign as she promotes tree planting within her municipality, leading by example.

Nominated by Alhaji K., Freetown:
Make us know the value of leadership and good leader. Freetown city council used to be a trashy place for political losers. Now it‚s the centre for elites because of Yvonne.

Nominated by Maria W., Freetown:
I am nominating Mayor Aki-Sawyerr because of her strategic and hands on approach in providing support to residents and workers of Freetown. She was instrumental in educating Freetonians on the severity of Civid-19 through visits to markets, informal settlements, weekly radio and TV shows in the local language (Krio). This was to remind people of the importance of wearing masks, washing hands and social distancing. She also sought financial support for people in quarantine homes to be cared for during their period of isolation. She's not a 'behind the desk leader' and is always available to guide and support her team in the delivery of her #TransformFreetown program. She's a deserving candidate for this award.

Nominated by C. K., outside Sierra Leone:
A brilliant and creative mayor who has championed better healthcare options and equity during the coronavirus pandemic but has also been steadfast in building a greener, cleaner, and more sustainable Freetown city.