Improving governance, voice and access to justice in Ghana’s informal settlements
In Ghana, many urban residents have yet to reap the benefit of the country’s democratic stability and recent economic growth. About 40% of the urban population is trapped in poorly planned, overcrowded informal settlements with unsanitary conditions and low access to basic services. Rapid population growth and urbanization risk reversing the country’s progress to date, unless needed interventions are put in place.
Public responses, by local and central governments, have taken the form of criminalization and exclusion, such as the use of forced evictions to clamp down on settlement growth, or a limited focus on more technical elements, like physical infrastructure. In many cases, urban planning and social assistance programs have ignored the plight of slums altogether. Exclusion in informal settlements thus results from a complex interaction between poverty, political inaction, weak planning systems, and lack of recognition of residents’ rights.
Against that backdrop, this action-oriented research project aims to improve voice and access to justice for settlement residents as well as respect for their social and economic rights. Working with the Land Resource Management Centre, a non-governmental organization based in Kumasi, research will be conducted by a multi-disciplinary team of experts in land tenure, law, human rights, social sciences, and urban governance, as well as civil society and informal settlement advocacy groups.
Settlements with three population types have been identified in Accra and Kumasi to enable comparison across contexts: populations largely indigenous to the area, migrants from other regions in Ghana, or a mix of both. The team will take stock of conditions and their causes and identify gaps and opportunities in laws and policies. Building on those efforts, the team will work with settlement residents to develop and test gender-sensitive approaches and engage in targeted and sustained advocacy and policy development.