Financing housing improvements in slum communities in Ghana: the case of the Kumasi Metropolis

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The main objective of this study was to analyse financing schemes available for improving housing conditions in the Ayigya-Zongo and Dakodwom communities in Kumasi. The study examined the socio-economic and housing characteristics of slum dwellers. In addition, it investigated the main sources of funds for improving slum housing and the financing schemes available in the two communities. The study adopted the case study method as a way to understand the peculiar situation in the two communities. Based on that, the study provided actions to shape urban development policies in the city. During the research process, questionnaires were administrated in these communities. This allowed the researcher to understand the characteristics of slum dwellers as well as their desires for improving their housing conditions. In addition, interviews conducted with the traditional leaders allowed the researcher to identify the major problems faced by the whole community. Furthermore, interviews with officials from relevant institutions such as the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly, Town and Country Planning Department, Kumasi Waste Management Department, Ghana Water Company and Electricity Company of Ghana increased the knowledge of the researcher about local efforts to improve the conditions of slum dwellers in Kumasi. The study revealed that, slum communities suffer from socio-economic problems as well as poor sanitation conditions. These improper conditions challenge the development of communities which may affect the quality life to its residents. From the study, it was clear that the sanitation problem in slum communities is very pronounced. However, this problem was not a priority for either slum dwellers or city authorities. With regards to housing financing, the study showed that slum dwellers use their own resources to finance housing improvements or acquisition of land. This is because housing financing schemes are almost nonexistent for slum dwellers. Additionally, residents in Ayigya- Zongo and Dakodwom indicated their interest in participating in financial schemes for housing improvement if they are introduced in their respective communities. These may include the use of personal or communal savings and communal labour. Again, it was revealed that the high social cohesion within the communities could facilitate the implementation of government projects for developing affordable housing schemes. This could however be disadvantaged by the low income status of slum dwellers in the Metropolis. The study also found that there are limited interventions for slum development in Kumasi by city authorities. Furthermore, government actions have demonstrated that Kumasi is still in a transition between negligence and forced evictions policies for slum control. This is also worsened by the limited recognition of slum communities as a permanent problem by some government authorities and the unclear responsibilities faced by providers of basic services such as water and electricity. The lack of coordination among city agencies was also confirmed during the research process. The study recommends the importance of strengthening local government to lead slum upgrading programmes in the Metropolis. This requires participation of all major stakeholders and capacity building in government institutions and communities. These actions could provide quality living conditions to hundreds of slum dwellers and to turn Kumasi into a city which offers equal opportunities to its inhabitants.
A Thesis Submitted to the Department of Planning Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, in partial fulfilment of the requirement for the degree of Master of Science in Development Planning and Management, 2010