Shangaan shop owners chased out of Duduza

2 days 21 hours ago
South Africans not spared in latest xenophobic violence

By Kimberly Mutandiro

Photo of shack
Nkosi Kubheka was renting this shack to a Mozambican immigrant for R1,000 per month, who ran a kiosk from it. But in the wake of xenophobic violence the Mozambican man has left Duduza, leaving the area without a shop and Khubeka out-of-pocket.

After a four-year-old child was found dead and mutilated at Spaarwater Dam in Duduza last week, community members went on the rampage on Sunday. They looted Shangaan shops, blaming them for ritual killings.

For the past week Mozambican and Shangaan shop owners have been targeted daily with community members looting their shops. Some residents protested on the streets against Shangaan people, burning tyres and blocking roads.

But police say there is no evidence supporting the allegations against the Shangaan or foreign shop owners.

Nkosi Kubheka had been renting out a small shack to a Mozambican immigrant who had been using it to operate a tuckshop on his premises. “The death [of the child] has nothing to do with the attacks on the Shangaans. Some community members have been long planning to chase them out after they had dealt with the Somalis.”

“We have been told that the community wants to clean out all of the Shangaans. It is unfortunate because l have been getting a reasonable amount of money from renting the shack out,” he said. Kubheka said his tenant had been paying him a R1,000 monthly.

He said community members had come to his premises in broad daylight on Wednesday. They opened the roof of the tuckshop and cleaned it out.

While he was saddened by the circumstances, he says he was afraid to have a dispute with his community. “Here in Duduza, no one stands in the community’s way. If they say Shangaans must go, they must go. Or else one will die trying to defend them. The sad part is that local people cannot even run businesses. Yet they want to chase out all foreign shop owners.”

Police said the violence had been a result of a culture in the Duduza community of blaming all misfortunes on foreigners (yet many Shangaans are South African).

“We have noted with great concern that some members of the Duduza Community have got a tendency of taking their frustrations out on foreign shop owners by committing certain acts of criminality,“ SAPS spokesperson for Duduza, Captain Harry Manaka said. “We are still investigating the death of the child and have not made any arrests in that regard.”

“However three people are in custody for public violence, malicious damage to property, breaking and entering, and theft following attacks on foreign shop owners. We are also doing our best to keep the situation under control,” he said.

Manaka said police had also rescued a South African man who had been attacked by residents who believed that he was one of the suspects in the child’s murder. Residents also vandalised a police officer’s house, accusing the officer for accepting a bribe and releasing the man.

Most of the the Mozambican and Shangaan shops are closed after the owners ran away fearing for their lives.

A resident who gave his name as Sakile expressed some of the prejudices of his community. “This thing of ritual killings came with the Shangaans. They do it to make muthi for their businesses. If they return to their countries it will stop.”

He continued: “The problem is that our government creates a free environment for these foreigners. They are not afraid to commit crime here in South Africa because our jails have food and beds which they do not find in their home countries. If government worked with us we would soon have them all out of our country.”

Another community member Mduduzi (only first name given) said: “Foreigners come here and use their muthi to open businesses. If they do not kill babies they take our women and impregnate them. They flaunt money and expensive cars in front of our women. Some of them are going around in the latest double cabs and golf cars from this witchcraft. Enough is enough.”

But some Mozambican shop owners said the community members were just jealous of their success. “Us foreigners are hard workers. When the locals see us succeed they become jealous. If they think we use muthi to succeed why do they not also look for the muthi,” said Lucas Cume. “The real muthi for success is hard work.” He had been operating his shop since 2011.

Cumbe says he was attacked while he was offloading stock into his shop on Wednesday. The looters took most of the stock but he managed to escape. He says police told he and other shopkeepers to close their shops while they handled the situation.

John Sibande, who is a South African citizen from Bush Sibande, said residents also took all his stock. Sibande said that community members ill-treated Shangaan people regardless of the fact that some of them are South African citizens.

Resident Themba Mnguni said, ”A Shangaan is a Shangaan. As long as anyone speaks a Krrr Krrr language [foreign language] the community regards them as Shangaans.”

However some people told GroundUp that if the Shangaan shops were closed it would be unfortunate for the community which had now begun to rely on them after Somalis were chased out of Duduza.


Published originally on GroundUp .

© 2018 GroundUp.
This article is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

You may republish this article, so long as you credit the authors and GroundUp, and do not change the text. Please include a link back to the original article.

AA

Canals remain an open sore in Masiphumele Wetlands

2 days 21 hours ago
Residents unhappy with City’s efforts; Provincial government however paints a rosy picture

By Thembela Ntongana

Photo of shacks
Wetlands informal settlement in Masiphumelele is home to approximately 2,500 households. Photo: Rebecca Redelmeier

More than a year after the City of Cape Town was told by the Western Cape government to clean up the wetlands informal settlement in Masiphumelele, home to approximately 2,500 households, residents are unhappy with the lack of progress. The Western Cape government however paints a very different picture.

The first directive by the Western Cape government was issued in January 2017 and a second one in July 2017 by then Provincial Director of Environmental Law Enforcement Dr Eshaam Palmer sent to the City’s Executive Director of Informal Settlements, Water and Waste Management Dr Gisela Kaiser.

The directives stated that City had failed to address issues in Masiphumelele affecting the health and well-being of the residents and polluting the environment and that the City had failed to comply with the National Environmental Management Act. In 2015, GroundUp reported on what it was like to stay in Masiphumelele.

Palmer said the City had failed to provide toilets, ablution and washing facilities, as well as storm water management and proper solid waste services. The province ordered that the City repair all the blocked toilets, provide additional toilets, and dredge the canals every two months. The City was also ordered to provide time frames for clean-up operations, inspections and maintenance of the storm water canals, toilets and standpipes.

Mayoral Committee Member for Informal Settlements Xanthea Limberg said at the time the City had appealed the directive, stating that it was already attending to issues in the community and was doing its best to improve the lives of residents. Limberg said nearly R2 million was spent on new water and sanitation infrastructure in the 2017/18 financial year.

The new Provincial Director of Environmental Law Enforcement Achmad Bassier said the City’s appeal was dismissed, the directive altered, and the department’s “investigation into the matter is still ongoing”.

Bassier said a compliance inspection was conducted on 4 July 2018. “It was evident that there has been a significant improvement at the informal settlement from the previous site inspections … New sewer lines have been installed and rerouted to alleviate blockages, toilets and associated infrastructure have been replaced and at the time of the inspection stormwater channels were being installed in areas where surface water had previously stagnated and/or community members would dispose of their grey water, thereby reducing the pollution on site.”

Bassier said, “The City has constructed two low flow diversion channels at certain stormwater canals to lessen the load of grey water in the canals. This also creates an alternative point for members of the community to dispose of their grey water. The City have created an innovative ablution block complete with showers, toilets and wash basins at one of the canals which would vastly improve the living conditions within the informal settlement.”

However, community leaders are not impressed. “The main issue is the canals … which people have been asking to be closed off. They are still open. The City says they clean them every day. But when you go there, they are dirty. Where is a permanent solution?” asked Masiphumelele community leader Tshepo Moletsana.

The City has built a pilot ablution facility consisting of six toilets and two showers in one section of the informal settlement. It has also put up washing basins, some of which are not yet functional.

These are some of the new toilets built in Masiphumelele informal settlement. They were not yet ready for use when GroundUp last week. Photo: Thembela Ntongana

Currently, the community has 147 toilets and 22 taps. In 2017, the City introduced portable flush toilets, but many residents in the informal settlement rejected these.

Wetlands informal settlement community leader Sithembele Mtshaba, who has been living in the area for 26 years. He said there were not enough taps in the community. “It is just not feasible … The toilets are still not enough.”

Resident Nosihle Mbewu has lived for ten years in a two-room shack with her two children and partner. “I personally do not understand the need for showers that could have been two or more toilets. Who will leave their house and go and take a shower next to the road? … There is no privacy. I’d rather use my tub.”

“Maybe what the City needs is to understand the situation that we live in. I do not know how long that will take, because we have been complaining for years. I am not going past dirty and smelly canals to go take a shower. Why can’t that money be used to close off these things [canals]?” asked Mbewu.

Mayoral Committee Member for Urban Development Brett Herron said short-term litter and night soil were removed from the canals on weekdays. He said the City was “working on a more permanent solution to the canals and improved storm water infrastructure.”

Herron said, “These plans are linked to the introduction of a new road that will provide emergency service access and improved flood protection and storm water infrastructure for this part of Masiphumelele.”

“The Environmental Impact Assessment studies for the proposed road are in the final stages of being completed. Once completed, these will be submitted to the Western Cape Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning and the National Department of Water and Sanitation for the relevant authorisations to permit the construction of the road,” said Herron.


Published originally on GroundUp .

© 2018 GroundUp.
This article is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

You may republish this article, so long as you credit the authors and GroundUp, and do not change the text. Please include a link back to the original article.

AA

Parents have to build toilets for Eastern Cape school

2 days 21 hours ago
Learners at schools in Cofimvaba have to relieve themselves outside

By Yamkela Ntshongwana and Nombulelo Damba-Hendrik

Photo of a row of children
Boys from Mvuzo Junior Secondary School in Cofimvaba use old, broken toilets, even though they are dangerous. Photo: Nombulelo Damba-Hendrik

Parents at Sidubi Poort Junior Secondary School in Cofimvaba say they have decided to build toilets for their children because the Eastern Cape Department of Education has been dragging its feet for over seven years. Community members have volunteered to do the work.

The current toilets at the school in Ngxingweni village were built in 1984. There are eight pit latrines for the 208 learners and teachers. Some of the toilets are full and the seats are broken. Children and teachers have to relieve themselves in the bush outside the school premises.

Teachers say the education department first promised to fix the toilets in 2012, but keeps on postponing. “When we first asked for toilets, the teachers’s toilets were still in better condition … [Now] we are also forced to go to those bushes to relieve ourselves,” said a teacher.

A member of the School Governing Body, who did not wish to be named, said, “Teachers are supposed to be well respected people. Then tell me if they relieve themselves in bushes where is their dignity? … We can’t just sit because government is failing our children and teachers.”

“These bushes are far from the school and when learners go to them, they have to go in numbers, at least four of them for safety reasons,” said a teacher.

Unemployment is high in Ngxingweni village and most people survive on social grants, but they have been willing to use the little money they have to assist the school to build toilets.

Parents started collecting money a year ago and have so far raised just under R5,000. It is not enough for new toilets yet, and some of the funds will be used first to fix the pit latrines. Community members have been fetching sand for construction from a river bank a few kilometres away from the school.

Learners at Sidubi Poort Junior Secondary School have to relieve themselves outside. Photo: Nombulelo Damba-Hendrik

At Mvuzo Junior Secondary School in Qamata village, also in Cofimvaba, the education department told teachers to destroy all broken pit toilets. Department officials visited the school and said the toilets, built over 30 years ago, were putting learners’ lives at risk.

However, the department did not say when it was going to build new toilets.

The school has 321 learners from grade R to grade nine. They now relieve themselves at a wall a kilometre away. Teachers were told they have to accompany the learners, but they say they do not have time to do this.

“I’m a male teacher … What are the community members going to say when they see me watching their children relieving themselves? On the other hand, there are learners who are waiting in class for a lesson,” said a teacher. “The challenge we are facing is that when learners go to relieve themselves, they leave the school in groups … We can’t keep our classes in order. And learners are missing lessons.”

“Even if we go in groups, that does not guarantee our safety. There are snakes here and anything can happen. To be honest I’m always scared of going … but we do not have a choice,” said learner Jessica Ngqomo.

She said some boys at the school were still using the destroyed toilets and refusing to go to the bush.

Spokesperson for the department Malibongwe Mtima said the department has close to R2 billion to replace unhealthy and unhygienic pit latrines. Mtima did not respond to questions about the two schools.

Equal Education says the Eastern Cape has over 1,700 schools with pit latrines, the highest number in the country. It said the need to address this crisis cannot be overstated, particularly when taking into account the danger it poses to learners and teachers.

A toilet at Sidubi Poort Junior Secondary School. Photo: Nombulelo Damba-Hendrik


Published originally on GroundUp .

© 2018 GroundUp.
This article is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

You may republish this article, so long as you credit the authors and GroundUp, and do not change the text. Please include a link back to the original article.

AA

After mass demolitions land occupiers return to Wallacedene

4 days ago
Family that was lawfully living on the land, but pushed out by occupiers, now lives in an Open Kadett.

By Vincent Lali

Photo of a woman and a demolished shack
Nthuseng Mzaci, centre, said she frantically moved her cupboard, TV and dishes when she saw officials arrive. “I quickly took my belongings out before they damage them as they did the last time they came here,” she said. Photo: Vincent Lali

After the City demolished as many as 600 shacks in Wallacedene, Kraaifontein, early last week, by Saturday the land was once again crowded with shacks. The City proceeded again to demolish shacks this week.

Land occupier Bukiwe Bhatyo said, “Law enforcement can shoot me and destroy my building materials, but I will build my shack again and stay here.”

Nthuseng Mzaci said the constant demolitions have affected her two children’s mental health. “My kids [in grade one and five] quickly wake up at night when they hear someone hit a corrugated iron zinc … thinking that the officials are destroying their home,” she said.

Nokulunga Koli quickly dismantled her own shack so that her building material would not get damaged.

Ntombovuyo Jola said she begged officials and started crying. They left her shack alone. She has two young children.

Community leader David Faku said residents rebuilt their shacks because they have nowhere else to go. “We can’t go back to our rented backyard shacks because we are jobless and have no money to pay rent … If the city doesn’t want us to stay here, it must tell us where we must go.”

Faku lives with his four kids, his sister, his wife and his sister-in-law.

“The government says we must use the [social] grant to buy food and clothes for our kids and take them to school. The grant is not meant for paying rent [as backyarders],” said Faku.

After the officials destroyed shacks on Tuesday last week, land occupiers turned their anger on two families from Joostenbergvlakte.

“Residents tore down their fence and houses out of anger. They were outraged and disgusted to watch them stay comfortably while the City destroys their shacks … We hear that the City gave permission to the families to stay here, why can’t it do the same to us?” asked Faku.

On Wednesday, the space where the families relocated by the City from Joostenbergvlakte had been staying was crowded with new shacks.

“We lost everything,” said Jenny Badernhost, one of the Joostenbergvlakte family members. “The NGO that assisted us gave us a bit of food, but we don’t want to stay at the NGO place.”

Badenhorst said she and her family now stay in an Opel Kadett in Kraaifontein.

“We are still shocked, but we will get through this,” she said.

Mayoral Committee Member for Informal Settlements Councillor Xanthea Limberg said: “The City has conducted numerous anti-land invasion operations on this land parcel, given the repeated attempted land invasions over the past months … The City has also obtained an interdict protecting this land parcel from illegal occupation.”


Published originally on GroundUp .

© 2018 GroundUp.
This article is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

You may republish this article, so long as you credit the authors and GroundUp, and do not change the text. Please include a link back to the original article.

AA

Residents expelled from Blikkiesdorp amidst racial tensions

4 days ago
Over 20 people have sought shelter in the Methodist Church in central Cape Town

By Mary-Anne Gontsana and Ashraf Hendricks

Photo of mother and child in church
Washiela Baeers cleans her six-month-old son Waseem. Baeers has been a resident of Blikkiesdorp for ten years. She is now staying in the Central Methodist Church in Cape Town so that “I can sleep tonight”. Photos: Ashraf Hendricks

Fearing for their lives, at least 22 people have moved from Blikkiesdorp and into the Central Methodist Mission Church in central Cape Town. This includes eight children, the youngest being six months old. Where they go to from here is uncertain.

Eight families were forced to vacate their structures in Blikkiesdorp on Wednesday evening, following threats made to them by other residents. The old Blikkiesdorp Joint Committee (BJC) members claim that there is an ongoing power struggle between black and coloured residents.

The families say they have received numerous threats from members of the newly formed BJC. One threat is that their structures would be burnt down with them inside. This was the push that has got them to leave Blikkiesdorp.

GroundUp watched as residents scrambled trying to find transport and spaces for the safekeeping of their belongings they could not take with. Residents could be seen helping each other move refrigerators and clothes.

Etienne Claasen is a member of the old BJC. He felt compelled to move out of Blikkiesdorp. “This whole thing started about a month and a half ago because of a rumour,” he said. “There has always been a problem of crime here, like house break-ins, people being robbed. There have always been gangsters. But then a rumour started; I don’t know by who, that a coloured gangster raped a black woman. This led to the black residents retaliating and deciding that they would chase out the gangsters themselves, and they came to the conclusion that the gangsters here are coloured.”

Claasen said since then, there have been a lot of violent incidents, including people being beaten up, with many people including himself being targeted.

He says apart from the crime, there was also infighting over the future of the BJC and housing opportunities for residents of Blikkiesdorp.

“I have been a member of the BJC for the past five years. We have worked tirelessly to be part of the Airport Company of South Africa’s (ACSA) Symphony Way Development, which will see Blikkiesdorp residents being moved from here to there. Now, these new people want to come in and take all the credit for our hard work. But that will not happen, otherwise this whole development will not happen. We will not let it. Right now we are being threatened and chased out of our houses because these new BJC members want to bring in their relatives and friends from surrounding areas like Marikana informal settlement to occupy our structures,” said Claasen.

Another resident, Jane Roberts said they were at a loss about what to do. Even the ward councillor and the police were of no help, she claimed. “I live with my daughter and my two grandchildren aged three and ten. I don’t know what is going to happen with us. The police are not always going to be here to check on us and keep us safe.”

Ward councillor for ward 106, Xolani Ndongeni, said he was not aware of the families that had moved out of the area. But he said the conflict arising in Blikkiesdorp was due to housing and crime.

Ndongeni told GroundUp that on Saturday a house was set alight after it was petrol bombed by residents who were looking for an alleged drug dealer. He said 39 residents were displaced due to the fire which damaged other houses.

“As for the housing issue, residents have been waiting ten years to be moved from Blikkiesdorp and there is a new development on the cards from ACSA, but it is still in the planning phase,” he said.

Attempts to contact the people accused of chasing the residents out of Blikkiesdorp have so far been unsuccessful.

Residents try to store their furniture in nearby homes, because they fear it will be stolen after they leave Blikkiesdorp.

Etienne Claasen says that he was threatened and chased out of Blikkiesdorp. He is now staying at the Central Methodist Mission Church in the city centre.

At least 14 adults and eight children spent Wednesday night at the church. How long they will be staying there is unclear.

Rugshana Hartley sits with her six-month-old baby Naifah. Hartley says that staying at the church is “ok”, but “my heart is in Blikkiesdorp”.

Coffee, bread, milk, chocolate and soup have been donated.

Badronessa Morris says that she was threatened so she left Blikkiesdorp. She says she was told that if she didn’t leave her home, it would be burnt down.

A child passes the time drawing in the church.


Published originally on GroundUp .

© 2018 GroundUp.
This article is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

You may republish this article, so long as you credit the authors and GroundUp, and do not change the text. Please include a link back to the original article.

AA

Wallacedene shack dwellers close down housing project

5 days 7 hours ago
City of Cape Town says project should not target one specific community only

By Vincent Lali

Photo of protesters
Wallacedene residents are demanding to be prioritised for a housing project. Photo: Vincent Lali

Dozens of angry shack dwellers who live in a Temporary Relocation Area (TRA) in Wallacedene marched to Kraaifontein police station to deliver a memorandum of demands to the City of Cape Town on Monday. Community leader Thembelani Mzola handed over a memorandum to Acting Subcouncil Two Manager Amelia van Rhyn. Marchers toyi-toyied and held placards that read: “We want houses” and “We want answers today or no Maroela Project”.

According to Mayoral Committee Member for Urban Development, Councillor Brett Herron, the Maroela housing project is a breaking new ground (BNG) state-subsidised housing project for beneficiaries registered on the City’s housing database.

But the protesters want the Maroela project exclusively for residents of TRA informal settlement.

Herron said about 20% of the houses will be allocated to people from other areas who have been on the City’s housing database the longest. “The Maroela Housing project is not intended to benefit one specific community or group. Instead, the purpose of this project is to accommodate as many beneficiaries as possible who have been registered on the City’s housing database.”

Construction on the Maroela housing project started on 27 September but was forced to stop on 1 October by the shack dwellers.

“If the City ignores our demand, we will shut down the project for good,” said Mzola.

“We want the housing project to cater only for residents of TRA because they have been waiting for houses for too long … We don’t want residents from outside Wallacedene to get houses from the project,” said Mzola.

“We live under inhumane conditions,” he said. “Some residents settled in the TRA about 13 years ago and the City told them that they would be moved to somewhere dry, but they are still staying in waterlogged shacks.”

He said a dozen shack dwellers shared a toilet and the City had not cleaned the toilets for almost a year.

Chairperson of Wallacedene policing forum Mawethu Sila said, “As long as the City doesn’t involve the shack dwellers in decision making, they will protest … The City must first deal with the overcrowding before it brings people from outside.”

But Herron said, “The project steering committee for the Maroela housing project was [democratically] elected at two public meetings held on 8 December 2015 and 30 June 2016.”

Receiving the memorandum, Van Rhyn said the project steering committee and project officials would discuss the shack dwellers’ demands.

Herron said, “We cannot allow a situation where certain residents get access to housing opportunities at the cost of those who have been waiting for years for the very same housing opportunity.”

“The purpose of the City’s housing database is to ensure that housing opportunities are made available in a fair, transparent, systematic, and equitable manner, and in accordance with our housing allocation policy to ensure that no one jumps the queue.


Published originally on GroundUp .

© 2018 GroundUp.
This article is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

You may republish this article, so long as you credit the authors and GroundUp, and do not change the text. Please include a link back to the original article.

AA

Accra's informal settlements are easing the city's urban housing crisis

1 week 1 day ago
Accra's sprawling slums. Nataly Reinch/Shutterstock

Informal settlements continue to remain a significant component of many cities in the developing world. UN Habitat describes them as lacking security of tenure, not having durable housing and short of basic services. Globally, almost one billion people are hosted in informal settlements. This is expected to increase to 1.5 billion by 2020.

In sub-Sharan Africa, about 60% of all urban residents reside in slums and their level of deprivation is considered to be comparatively severe. In view of the recent urbanisation trends on the continent, much of the projected urban population growth is expected to be absorbed by slums.

In spite of this reality, slum dwellers continue to be marginalised, brutalised by the state and forcefully evicted. They are also frequent victims of demolitions and displacements. However, slums are critical for the future wellbeing of many urban residents across the continent because they provide a refuge.

This is true in Accra where close to half of the city’s population live in informal settlements.

In this article, we shed light on the broader dynamics of urban housing, and the rental regime that has pushed many people into the informal settlements. We argue that slums are more than just marginalised spaces of abject poverty and neglect.

Accra’s housing crisis

Housing in Accra is something of a paradox: a boom in supply for the wealthy, and scarcity for those at the lower ends of the income strata.

According to the Ghana Housing Profile, 60% of all urban households in Ghana occupy single rooms. Only 25% of households own a house. The remainder either rent or live rent-free in a family house. Urban housing is also regarded as very expensive.

Because of a lack of affordable, decent and secure shelter for the low-income population it’s generally accepted that there’s a housing crisis in the Ghanaian capital. This crisis was instigated by the withdrawal of the state as an active provider of housing.

The state withdrew following the adoption of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund’s structural adjustment programs introduced in the 1980s. At that point market-led policy became the mainstay in housing provision. The private rental housing market was commercialised resulting in a boom in profit-driven housing production that targetted high-income residents.

Exclusive apartments, gated communities and high-end residential units mushroomed across the poorly controlled housing landscape.

Thanks to rising land prices, a decline in the access to land, and a lack of access to housing finance, many low-income and lower-middle class workers are pushed out of the housing market.

This has pushed most of them to rely on the informal rental sector. There, landlords exploit the vulnerability of the their tenants often demanding several years of rent in advance.

Can upgrading slums help solve the crisis?

About 45% of Accra residents live in some form of slum housing. These areas are overcrowded, have limited access to piped water and poor sanitation facilities. But this is only part of the picture. Slum housing means more to local residents than the stereotypical depictions of deprivation and poverty.

Urban slums like Old Fadama allow many people to escape the near homelessness that Accra’s housing crises creates.

Old Fadama is the largest informal settlement in the city of Accra. In media and political circles it is often cast as dystopian. But for many it’s the one of the few places they can be assured of access to cheap and alternative housing while still remaining close to core services in the city of Accra.

This informal settlement sits on public land that was initially acquired by the Government of Ghana for the Korle Lagoon Ecological Restoration Project. The project was abandoned and the land remained undeveloped until the 1980s when the informal settlement began.

Since then the population has grown substantially. Between 2004 and 2007, for instance, the population doubled from 24,000 to 48,000. The most recent data suggests that nearly 80 000 people now live in the area.

This exponential growth can be attributed to the fact that Old Fadama provides cheap, centrally located housing. Moreover, not all housing is substandard. Relatively better-quality houses can be found in unplanned areas at more affordable prices than other areas in Accra.

This is borne out by the fact that Old Fadama doesn’t only house the informal poor. A recent study suggested that about 15% are formal sector employees.

Old Fadama is an entry point to basic housing for those in both low-paid formal and informal employment. For many in this slum, access to cheap housing in the city’s economic heartland has made it possible to capitalise on their capabilities, and enabled them to try and move out of poverty.

Policy and project experimentation

There’s an urgent need for targeted interventions around slum housing in Accra. Fortunately, the 2015 National Housing Policy, and the newly established Ministry for Inner City and Zongo Development, are good starting points. Both emphasise support for the urban poor and low-income housing.

Additionally, civil society groups are experimenting with collective self-help housing– such as the Amui Dzor Housing and Infrastructure Project implemented by the Ghana federation of the urban poor in collaboration with the government and UN Habitat– for low-income groups. In view of this, we suggest that there is a need to combine policy support with project experimentation for house improvement in urban slums.

This should be considered as part of a housing program that involves state leadership in providing ‘real’ affordable housing. There is also a need to provide funds for social housing, enforce regulation of the rental market, and support the informal housing sector. This would add up to a solid commitment towards every citizen’s right to decent, secure and affordable housing.

The Conversation

Seth Asare Okyere is part of a collaborative research team that receives funding from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) for urban socio-spatial studies and action research in Accra, Ghana.

Jerry Chati Tasantab is affiliated with the University of Newcastle. He receives the University of Newcastle International Postgraduate Research Scholarships (UNIPRS) and University of Newcastle Postgraduate Research Scholarship (UNRS External) for his PhD in Building since 2017.

Matthew Abunyewah receives funding for his PhD in Disaster Management from the University of Newcastle International Postgraduate Research Scholarships since 2015.

Checked
33 minutes 17 seconds ago
Africa's Leading Built Environment News & Information Service
Subscribe to AA Africa News Feed feed