An Investigation Of The Causes And Consequences Of Informal Settlement Planning In Ghana

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Project Topic on Investigation Of The Causes And Consequences Of Informal Settlement Planning In Ghana

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1.1 Background of the Study

Land is a basic natural resource on which man needs to live. However, research shows that the world’s land-man ratio has decreased due to reasons such as unplanned settlements and increasing population pressure on formerly conserved lands. The poor or the disadvantaged occupy a large portion of urban land in emerging countries.They observed that urban land-use planning plays an important role in shaping a city; without appropriate planning, a city may grow in an uncontrollable way due to population, socio-economic, and environmental changes. According to the Food and Agricultural Organization [FAO] (1993 p.6), “urban land-use planning is the systematic assessment of land and water potential, alternatives for land use, and economic and social conditions in order to select and adopt the best land-use options”. The purpose of land-use planning is, therefore, to select and put into use those land-use practices that will best meet the needs of the people while safeguarding resources for the future. The driving force in planning, therefore, is the need for change, the need for improved management, and the need for a different pattern of land use dictated by changing circumstances (FAO, 1993). Land-use planning could be seen as a scientific, aesthetic, and orderly disposition of land, its resources, facilities, and services with the view to securing the physical, economic, and social efficiency, health, and well-being of urban communities. Agenda 21 of the World Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 stressed the importance of land-use planning in natural resource management (Amler et al., 1999). According to Mcmanus (2005), better urban land-use planning enhances local and national goals such as sanitation, better health conditions, wealth creation, better transportation networks, avoidance of congestion, and sustainability of natural resources such as rivers.


Ghana, over the years, has come up with measures to control and regulate the use of land resources to achieve harmonious physical development. Starting in 1892, various ordinances have been enacted to provide for the machinery and procedures for physical development. For example, the Town Ordinance of1892 (cap 86) was passed to “regulate the development of towns and promote public health”. Its provision was directed at regulating the siting and building of individual structures, and at promoting public health, especially sanitation, within settlements in the Gold Coast Colony. Similarly, the Mining Health Areas Ordinance of 1925 provided for the regulation of public health, layouts, and control of private buildings in mining settlements. This was followed by the Town and Country Planning Ordinance of 1945 (cap 84); this Ordinance gave the Town and Country Planning Department (TCPD) official and statutory recognition as a major institution of government.In line with the decentralization policy of the Ghana Government, and as part of measures taken to improve the planning and management of human settlements, the Local Government Act of 1993 (Act 462) was promulgated. This law came to classify and reinforce the planning and development functions given to District Assemblies (Republic of Ghana, 1993). The Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) were given legislative powers to make by-laws with respect to building construction, sanitation, and the environment. They were also given the mandate to prepare and approve planning schemes, grant building permits, enforce regulations, and prescribe sanctions for non-compliance with laid down regulations.In spite of the powers of MMDAs to enforce the right or prescribed use of land, orderly physical development of settlements continues to elude Ghana and this has resulted in the growth of many unauthorized structures in the country. In the midst of all these measures, they appear to be ineffective in curbing informal settlements in Ghana, hence causing a lot of consequences for urban settlement.

1.2 Statement of the problem

Accra and Kumasi consequently have the highest number of unauthorized structures in Ghana since the largest part of the country’s population dwells in these two cities. In the peri-urban areas of Ghana, the story is even worse. Most researchers have observed that peri-urban growth in sub-Saharan African countries such as Ghana is mainly taking place in an unplanned manner, hence creating sprawling high-density. Indeed, some of the liabilities of unauthorized structures, including filthy environment, congested town centres, flooding, and traffic congestion with its resultant loss of productive time in traffic jams, are clear manifestations of the 1954 document on spatial planning in Ghana. The question then is what legacy will this generation bequeath to those yet to come development and uneconomic use of environmental resources? A report on the importance of proper town and city planning made by the German Technical Cooperation (Amoah, 2006) indicated that flooding in many cities and towns in the country, including Kumasi, was due to unauthorized development of structures. According to Adomako (2009), the fire outbreak that engulfed the Kumasi Central Market in June, 2009 was partly attributed to unauthorized structures. The author emphasized that those unauthorized structures made it difficult for the fire service personnel to get direct access to the affected area. Some unauthorized dwellings even had to be pulled down before access could be gained. Therefore, it is against this backdrop that this study seeks to investigate the causes and consequences of unauthorized structures in Aboabo, a suburb of Kumasi Metropolis.

1.3 Objective of the Study

The main focus of the study is to investigate the causes and consequences of unauthorized structures at Aboabo, a suburb of Kumasi Metropolis. Specifically the study seeks:

  1. To examine the perceptions of residents in the Abaobo in Kumasi Metropolis on land-use planning.
  2. To investigate what influences people to live in unauthorized structures.
  3. To ascertain the problem residents of the city face as a result of unauthorized structures.

1.4 Research Hypothesis

HO1The  perceptions of residents in the Abaobo in Kumasi Metropolis on land-use planning is ignorance on the consequences of informal planning.

H11The  perceptions of residents in the Abaobo in Kumasi Metropolis on land-use planning is not ignorance on the consequences of informal planning.

HO2There are no significant consequences of  Informal Settlement Planning in Kumasi Metropolis Ghana.

H12There is a significant consequences of  Informal Settlement Planning in Kumasi Metropolis Ghana.

1.5 Significance of the Study

The study is informed by the development of unauthorized structures which have become a problem in sub-urban Kumasi, and in Ghana as a whole. The study, it is hoped, will make people aware of the existence of institutional arrangements for land-use planning, and of the various challenges that have hindered land planning and management institutions from performing satisfactorily in Kumasi and elsewhere in the country.It is also hoped that the study will help to unravel the factors that have influenced people’s minds to frown upon planning regulations, and which have urged them to put up unauthorized structures in urban areas of Ghana. These will help planning authorities and policy makers to make informed decisions to curtail the springing up of unauthorized structures at Aboabo and elsewhere in Ghana. In addition, the findings from the study, it is hoped, will add to the existing knowledge of urban land-use planning and also serve as a basis for further research into issues concerning unauthorized structures, especially in urban areas in Ghana.

1.6 Scope of the Study

The scope of this study borders on investigation of the causes and consequences of informal settlement planning in Ghana. The study is however delimited to  Aboabo, Kumasi Metropolis, Ghana.

1.7 Limitation of the study

During the course of this research, the following factors are proposed to be a limitation.Financial constraints tend to impede the researcher’s efficiency in locating relevant materials, literature, or information, as well as in data collection (internet, questionnaire, and interview). On time frame, The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. As a result, the amount of time spent on research is reduced. However the researcher sought to give in their best to make this research a success.

1.8 Definition of Term

Land-Use Planning: Land-use planning is the process of regulating the use of land by a central authority. Usually, this is done in an effort to promote more desirable social and environmental outcomes as well as a more efficient use of resources.

Unauthorized Structures: Illegal structures are those structures built without a building permit, those that violate the easement laws of 3 meters away from the sidewalk, or structures that pose danger to the public.



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