Analysis of settlement structure and functions for District level Development in Ahanta West District

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Access to basic functions is a vital component of the standard of living and level of development of a population in an area. This access is determined by the distribution of the functions and the level of integration among settlements. In most developing countries the majority of the population lives in small sized rural settlements, while most functions are concentrated in few centres. The disparity in standards o living between urban and rural areas is substantial. Rural areas are being marginalized from the benefits of central functions, and living conditions in rural areas are deteriorating. The objective of this study was to analyse the settlement structure and levels of access to central functions in Ahanta-West District, the results of which can be used for long-term planning to ensure access to basic functions and equitable development in the district. A survey was conducted in 61 settlements on the availability or non-availability of 51 functions, road linkages, transport services, and patterns of population movements for central functions. Population size analysis, scale analysis, centrality indexes, and analytical mapping techniques were used to analyse the settlement system, the pattern of central functions, and the levels of access to these functions. The study showed that considerable proportion of the district population lives in small settlements with poor road links and unreliable transport services. Out of the total number of 116 settlements 61 have population sizes of less than 300, constituting about 16% of the total population in the district. More than 36% of the district population lives in settlements with a population of less than 800. About one half of the settlements with a population of 300 and more do not have reliable transport service. Most of the services and facilities in the district are concentrated in few settlements. Out of the total number of 45 functions included in the analysis only two settlements, Agona and Apowa, had more than 75% and only three settlements, Agona, Apowa and Dixcove, had more than 50% of the.furictjons. The relatively higher level settlements, that is the level. I and level II settlements in the hierarchy are concentrated mainly in the central and eastern parts of the district. The gap between the top level settlements and the lowest level settlements in the hierarchy is too big. While Agona’s centrality index is 1188.5, Aboagyiirom, the settlement with the lowest centrality index, has a centrality index of only 3.7. Agona has 41 of the functions discriminated in the scalogram, Bronikrom has only one. From the results of the analysis, it is clear that the settlement pattern in the district is not a well articulated and integrated one. Many of the settlements do not, have adequate access to basic functions, such as health services, Periodic markets, Senior Secondary School and so on. On the basis of these findings, the following major recommendations are made for improving the spatial organization of the central functions and the level of access to them: i) Settlements without access to most functions due to unreliable transport services, such s Esyambra, Princess Town, Cape Three points and Mpatano, should he integrated to the higher level settlements by rehabilitating their road links and enabling them to have all weather reliable transport services. This will ensure the effective utilization of existing functions, and access to such functions for settlements which cannot be provided With the service because of their relative locations and their small size; ii) Those areas which cannot have access to existing functions should be provided with addtional services and facilities, depending on their relative locations and population sizes. It is anticipated that the Integration of all levels of settlements in the district and the provision of additional services and facilities to settlements which con not benefit from existing functions, will improve the spatial organisation of central functions and levels of access to these functions.
A thesis submitted to the Board of Postgraduate Studies, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the Degree of Master of Science in Development Planning and Management,1993.