District Development through Spatial Integration: Case Study of the Dangme West District

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The development in many third world countries has not proceeded in a manner whereby the distribution of functions is equitable. As a result, there is a concentration of functions in one area, usually the largest metropolitan city, to the detriment of rural settlements. Consequently, there is the marginalization of rural economies and the creation of settlements whose functional characteristics are not sufficiently varied to stimulate economic growth. Much has been debated about the underdevelopment of small towns and cities. The evidence that small towns and cities can perform a wide variety of functions has been accompanied by indications that few of them that are able to promote growth and integration in rural areas actually do so. The explanation put forward is that the settlement system in rural regions is inadequately articulated. The reasons given are: an insufficient number of lo order central places, an inadequate distribution of functions and weak linkages among settlements in rural regions. The argument for developing small towns and cities is based upon the Central Place Theory. The theory states that widespread economic growth requires that an articulated and integrated system of settlements, comprising of towns and cities of different sizes and varied functions are created. An investigation based on the premise that a well-integrated system of rural towns provides central functions to their population and to the hinterland population was undertaken. The study examines the level of integration and its effect on the socio-economic development in a district. It determines whether the disintegration of the district economy is in fact due to an inadequately articulated settlement system. The place used as a case study for this investigation, is the Dangme West district, Ghana, formerly an economically active district that is now economically depressed. The data – gathering procedures that have been in this study included an individual as well as group effort. Relevant information was also derived from the Spring Programme (Workshop) 1990/1991 which performed a study of the Dangme West district for purposes of formulating a development plan. The individual effort required the administration of questionnaires and the review of literature provided by the District Assembly of the Dangme West district. The analytical procedures that were used determined the number of low-order central places, the distribution of functions, and the degree of linkages among settlements. The findings of the analyses justify the statement that the settlement system is not adequately integrated. A strategy of district development through spatial integration has been proposed to revitalize the economy of the Dangme West district.
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 award of the Degree of Master of Science in Development Planning and Management, 1991