Settlement systems analysis: an approach towards an effective spatial - functional integration in the Nkoranza district

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In many rural areas, the lack of road access to markets (for farm inputs and implements) and agricultural extension services hamper the transfer of innovative technology. It is probably in acknowledgement of this fact that the World Bank has asserted that Ghanaian agriculture operates at a very low level of technology. In addition to this, most rural areas have very few settlements offering a minimum range of critical services for large populations living immediately outside them. Again, the level of physical access to these central places is quite low in such areas. The Nkoranza District lacks a well articulated and spatially integrated system, for it typifies the above description. The district lacks medium-sized settlements with enough service capacity to accelerate the development of the district. In this predominantly rural economy, Nkoranza, the district capital, acts as a primate town. The lack of adequate transport services, coupled with the poor road conditions in some parts of the district, together act as another limiting factor towards increased access to services. The Settlement Systems Analysis concentrates on formulating strategies for integrating urban and rural communities into a system of settlements, through which a wide range of mutually beneficial interaction can occur. Some of the major findings of the study relates to the primacy of Nkoranza. The four-city primacy method indicated that the district capital is one and a half times more than the size of the next three largest settlements put together. Moreover, a strong, positive relationship was established between the functional complexity (centrality index) of a settlement and the population size. Four levels of settlement hierarchy were derived for the district. A skewed distribution of services and functions was identified. For instance, about 70 per cent of all the central places offered between ‘15 and 27. per cent of the functions in the district,as compared to the district capital alone offering about 90 per cent of the services. A combination of several methods identified the southern and eastern portions of the district as deprived. Using the optimum accessibility analysis as a measure of welfare; the district exhibited low levels of welfare. For example a large majority of the population (68.6 per cent) were found to be, potentially, in the low access zones of the district. Thus considering four services - Bank, Education (S.S.S,), Periodic Market and Hospital/Health Centre - at a go, about 68.6 per cent of the population would reach those services with a threshold travel time of more than 75 minutes (considered quite high for reaching these services). In order to address the problem of limited spatial and functional integration in the district, some recommendations have been made. A strategy which is based on striving towards a more articulated and spatially integrated system is recommended. This strategy is guided by a policy which concentrates on strengthening the service capacity of all settlements, of varying sizes, to perform a wider range of functions. In this regard some broad functions were recommended for investment. In much the same way, specific settlements were recommended as locations for investment. Another policy area was strengthening the existing linkages between central places. In this light certain road stretches were recommended for investment. It is also recommended that the capacity of local institutions for road rehabilitation must be strengthened, whilst efforts are made to seek financial assistance outside the Government and District Assembly system. Another recommendation was made in relation to the introduction and, ownership of a range of basic vehicles that can meet the transport needs and financial capacity of the majority of the district’s population.
A thesis submitted to the Board of Postgraduate Studies, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, in partial fulfilment of the requirement for the award of the Degree of Master of Science in Development Planning and Management, 1994