Why has the Squatter Settlement of old Fadama Prospered ?

Viewing Urban Informality from a Sustainability Prospective

September 13, 2021 |

A photo of the squatter settlement of Old Fadama in Accra, Ghana with an image of a regional map

The squatter settlement of Old Fadama in Accra, Ghana

In the city of Accra, Ghana, municipal officials traditional-ly addressed squatter settlements through demolition and evictions. In spite of these evictions, Old Fadama, an illegal squatter settlement in Accra has flourished.
Why has this settlement prospered? Raymond Asomani-Boateng and Russell Fricano explored this issue within the context of sus-tainable principles. Sustainable principles include the com-ponents of environment, equity, and economy. From an environmental perspective, Old Fadama is blight-ed and potentially hazardous. The settlement is marked with shoddy construction, susceptibility to flooding and fire haz-ard and pollution of the adjacent Korle lagoon. However, economic and equity perspectives tell us a different story. Old Fadama has provided economic opportunities to its residents. Recycling, food markets and other forms of commercial development and services have been successful enterprises and offer a livelihood to Old Fadama residents. Its location in the urban core of ACCRA is conducive to es-tablishing business networks and provides transportation access. Old Fadama enterprises also generates tax revenue to the city.Old Fadama also features intricate social networks. When tribes migrated, they settled together, keeping social net-works intact. As a consequence, an ad hoc form of leadership and governance emerged which maximized citizen partici-
pation. Research findings by the United Nations and other sources consider participatory processes as the most effective method of addressing the problems faced by slum residentsRecent attempts by the Accra Municipal Government to re-locate economic activities away from the urban core have not been successful to date. The limitation of formal approach-es in addressing Old Fadama and the spontaneous emer-gence of informal citizen participation and microenterprises demonstrates the importance of adapting urban policy to ur-ban informality. Rather than imposing formal and technical approaches to a culture and economy of informality, the role of local government and global organizations is to facilitate urban informality in ways that are conducive to public health and safety, economic development, and citizen participation. This is crucial as Old Fadama residents rely on informality for their livelihood. 1Sub-Saharan Africa is comprised of the countries of An-gola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Er-itrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bis-sau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nige-ria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, United Republic of Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zaire, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

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