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Regulation of housing and services for the urban poor: a case study of Accra, Ghana Gambrah, Anthony 1994

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REGULATION OF HOUSING AND SERVICESFOR THE URBAN POOR: A CASE STUDYOF ACCRA, GHANAbyANTHONY GAMBRAHB.Sc. (Hons) Land Economy, University of Science and Technology, Ghana, 1982A THESIS SUBMITFED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OFTHE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OFMASTER OF SCIENCE (PLANNING)inTHE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIESSCHOOL OF COMMUNITY AND REGIONAL PLANNINGWe accept this thesis as conformingto the required standardLLUNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIAAUGUST 1994© Anthony Gambrah, 1994In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanceddegree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make itfreely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensivecopying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of mydepartment or by his or her representatives. it is understood that copying orpublication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my writtenpermission.(Signature)_____________________Bepartmeit of CO ‘JN i o’JE-L PLi\J’J\The University of British ColumbiaVancouver, CanadaDate OcT oP- %DE-6 (2/88)ABSTRACTThis thesis explores the inadequate housing conditions of the urban poor inrelation to housing regulations and services provided in selected communties inAccra, Ghana. Case studies and qualitative approaches are used in examiningthe main provisions of building codes: housing development processes,arrangements and sizes of rooms, materials used in construction and penalty fornon-compliance (denial of services), in three urban poor communities in Accra.A review of the literature indicates that formal regulations, particularlybuilding codes were set during the colonial period in Ghana. The main purposewas to provide European settlers or officials with houses of standard designsimilar to those in their country of origin. Even though Ghana obtained politicalindependence in 1957, these building codes with little modification have becomethe dominant tools in housing policies.The thesis finds that the standard requirements set by the building codes arevery high for the urban poor. They are also unrelated to local culture, theclimate, and the skills and resources of the urban poor. The overall effect is thatthe urban poor do not follow the standards specified by the codes and arepenalized by the government through denial of the city’s infrastructure andservices like water, electricity, garbage collection, roads, etc.From the case studies and analysis of secondary data, the thesis concludes thatalthough there are other social, economic and political factors which underlieinequality in the city; the penalties for non-compliance with building codes arekey factors contributing to the inadequate housing conditions in the urban poorcommunities. They also hamper progressive housing improvement strategies.11To allow flexibility in the extension of infrastructure and services to thecommunities, the thesis suggests reformulation of the building codes, takinginto account the existing conditions of the rapidly growing urban poorsettlements.111TABLE OF CONTENTSABSTRACT IITABLE OF CONTENTS ivLIST OF TABLES viiLIST OF FIGURES viiiACKNOWLEDGMENTS ixDEDICATION xCHAPTER ONE - INTRODUCTION TO THE STUDY 11.1.0 Background 11.2.0 History and Growth of Accra 11.3.0 An overview of Accra’s Housing Situation 41.3.1 Informal or illegal housing sector 71.3.2 Formal or Legal housing sector 91.3.3 Services 101.4.0 Statement of Problem 101.5.0 Scope of the Study 111.6.0 Significance of the Study 121.7.0 Research Objectives 141.8.0 Theoretical Framework 141.9.0 Research Methodology 181.11.0 Limitations of the Study 211.12.0 Defmition of Concepts and Terms 221.12.0 Organization of the Thesis 23CHAPTER TWO - EVOLUTION AND ENFORCEMENT OF BUILDINGCODES 262.1.0 Introduction 262.2.0 What is a Building Code” 272.2.1 Types of Building Codes 272.3.0 Historical Developments of Building Codes 282.4.0 The Colonial Impact on Building Codes 292.5.0 Rationales for Building Codes and Standards 32iv2.6.0 Western Standards and Third World Realities 342.7.0 Building Codes and Slum Upgrading/Serviced Sites in Africa 382.8.0 Building Codes in Ghana 402.8.2 Irrelevance to local culture 462.8.3 Indifference to local resource materials 492.8.4 Lack of relation to local economy 512.8.5 Difficulty of Enforcement 522.9.0 Access to Services 532.9.1 Patron-Client Relationship and Services 532.9.2 Socioeconomic Background and Services 552.10.0 Summary 57CHAPTER THREE - THE STUDY COMMUNITIES 603.1.0 Basis for Community Selection 603.2.0 Location and Settlement Pattern 603.3.0 Historical Development of the Settlements 613.3.1 Nima - Inner city setttlement 623.3.2 Madina - Peripheral settlement 633.3.3 Ashiaman - Peripheral settlement 643.4.0 Types of Houses 653.4.1 Single-Storey Traditional Compound Houses 653.4.2 Multi-Storey Tenement 673.4.3 Single-Family Bungalows 673.4.4 Semi-Detached Houses 683.4.5 Block of Flats 693.5.0 Housing Tenure 693.5.1 Owners 703.5.2 Renters 703.5.3 Rent-Free Occupants 713.6.0 Summary 72CHAPTER FOUR - HOUSING DEVELOPMENT PROCESS 744.1.0 Flexibility and Incrementalism 744.2.0 Compliance with Building Codes 754.2.1 Building Materials 754.3.0 Sanitation Facilities 77V4.5.0 Services .834.5.1 Water 844.5.2 Electricity 864.5.3 Sanitation -roads, garbage,etc 864.6.0 Summary 88CHAPTER FIVE - FINDINGS, CONCLUSIONS AN]) POLICYIMPLICATIONS5.1.0 Summary of Findings 905.2.0 Conclusions 925.2.1 Non-compliance with Standards 925.2.2 Standards hinder housing improvements 925.2.3 Reformulation of Building Codes 935.3.0 Guidelines for An Appropriate Building Code 955.3.1 Landcrete Blocks 965.3.2 Wooden Windows 975.3.3 Traditional Housing Design 975.4.0.Implementing An Appropriate Building Code 985.4.1 Community Participation and Development Controls 985.4.2 Politicians and Public Health 995.4.3 Finance and Gradual Improvement of Infrastructure 1005.4.4 Appropriate Technology and Infrastructure Improvement. 1025.4.5 Use of Special Zones 1035.5.0 Policy Implications 104BIBLIOGRAPHY 106APPENDIX 115viLIST OF TABLESTable 1. Number of Houses Surveyed 20Table 2. Type of Houses in Acera 65Table 3. Housing Tenure 69Table 4. Materials Used for Foundation 75Table 5. Availability of Toilets in the Houses 78Table 6. Availability of Kitchen in the Houses 80Table 7. Persons Per Single Amenity in a House (Study Communities) . .81Table 8. Person Per Single facility in a House (High Income Areas) 82Table 9. Average Household and Housing Density Indicators 83Table 10. Cost of Public and Private Water Supply 85Table 11. Improvable Services Standards (An Example) 101vi’LIST OF FIGURESFigure 2. Aecra’s Population Growth 3APPENDIX 115Figure 1. Map of Ghana Showing the Location of Accra 116Figure 3.1. (a) Sketch Plans of Single Storey Compound House 117Figure 3.2. (b) Multi-storey Compound House 118Figure 3.2. (c) Government Built Semi-detached estate house 118Figure 3. (d) Bungalow on a Large Plots 119Figure 3. (e) Block of Flats 119vii’ACKNOWLEDGMENTSI am most grateful to the Lord Jesus Christ by whose grace and strength thisacademic dream was successfully completed. Praise be to His name forever.My sincere thanks also go to Professor A. A. Laquian and Dr. Michael Leaf fortheir guidance and suggestions throughout the process of writing this thesis. Ialso wish to thank Professor Brahm Wiesman for his invaluable support as theexternal reader for this thesis.My wife, Eunice and our children (Priscilla and Caleb) deserve a special tributein this acknowledgment. Their unwavering support and prayers gave me thetenacity to work hard towards the completion of the thesis. May God blessthem.ixDEDICATIONTO MY DEAR WIFE EUNICE, FOR HERLOVE, SUPPORT AND SACRIFICESxCHAPTER ONE - INTRODUCTION TO THE STUDY1.1.0 BackgroundCities in developing countries are growing at extraordinary rates, oftencompressing into decades the urbanization process that has taken centuries toevolve in technologically advanced countries. During the 1990s, 600 millionpeople will be added to the world’s cities and towns. Of the world’s 21megacities, which will expand to more than 10 million people during the 1990s,18 will be in developing countries (World Bank, 1991).Accra, the capital city of Ghana (See Fig. 1 in Appendix)- is relatively smallin comparison with megacities in other developing countries. However Accrahas had its own population explosion. The city’s 1984 population of 860,000almost doubled to 1.6 million in 1990. By the turn of the century, if theprojections are fulfilled, Accra’s population will be well over 2.2 million(Government of Ghana, 1984; HUDA, 1990). The need for successful urbanmanagement processes to cope with the general problem of population growthlike housing, infrastructure and services is therefore paramount and obvious.1.2.0 History and Growth of AccraAccra, which was founded by the Ga ethnic group towards the end of the 16thCentury, began as a small village near a lagoon called ‘Korle’. The Gainhabitants were mainly farmers and fisher folks, who caught fish in the lagoon.The settlement began to assume importance in the 17th Century when FortCrevecoeur (now called Usher Fort) was built by the Dutch in 1650, followedby the Swedish Christianborg Castle in 1657 and the English Fort James in1673 (Abloh, 1972). Although the three forts were built for purposes of trade,1they also afforded protection to the residents of Accra, during the inter-tribalwar period in Ghana’s history.The safety afforded by the settlements attracted people of other Ga settlementswho were at war with other groups. The town later became the capital of theGa people. The presence of the forts also led to the development of Accra as animportant trade center along the West Coast of Africa. Accra’s importanceincreased in 1876, when the British transferred the administrative headquartersof the colonial country from Cape Coast to Accra. By the end of the 19thCentury, Accra was a major trading center in gold, rubber, palm kernel andcola.As a growing capital and a trading center, the urban beginnings of Accra startedto attract immigrants from all over the country and also from overseas. As aresult of this trend, buildings began to spread away from the old built-up areaaround the forts. At the outbreak of the Second World War, Accra was madean important West African War Base and a large number of troops both localand foreign were stationed there. This immediately led to the development ofGiffard Camp and quickened the growth of other new housing areas to meet thegrowing demand for housing for both soldiers and civilians who continued toflock to Accra in large numbers. When Ghana obtained political independencein 1957, Accra became the dream destination of most rural-urban migrants andmarked a dramatic increase in its population as illustrated by the graph below:2Figure 2. ACCRA’S POPULATION GROWIII250000020000001500000POPULATION1930 1940 1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000YEARSource: Constructed by the author from Abloh(1972), Census (1984) and Huda (1990)The unprecedented population increase in Accra has left in its trail intractableproblems like severe housing shortage, poor sanitation, slums andenvironmental deterioration. All these have had adverse effects, especially onthe urban poor. The position of the urban poor has been worsened furtherbecause they have little or no access to the legal housing market. In copingwith this problem, central and municipal governments have over the decadesdevised a wide range of policy instruments and planning regulations aimed atmeeting the housing needs of the city. In the past the main planning regulationsand controls have included land use zoning, subdivision regulations and buildingcodes.In principle, the main goal of planning regulations and control measures is toensure that private and public developers act in a way that maximizes the socialand external benefits and minimizes the social or external costs associated withurban developments. In practice, however, the control measures have notstopped the proliferation of slums which is a conspicuous characteristic of3Accra. It is against this background, that this study examines the housingconditions of the urban poor in Accra, Ghana. The study is from theperspective of access to services like water, electricity, sanitation, roads anddrainage.This study, focuses on regulation of urban development through the use ofbuilding codes in housing development. Building codes are typically designedto reduce fire and health hazards and to provide privacy, public safety and openspace (Linn, 1983). Houses which violate the specifications of the buildingcodes are stigmatized as ‘substandard’ and denied legal access to basicservices. It is estimated that about 53 per cent of the houses in Accra - Ghana,fall into this category of ‘substandard housing’ (Ghosh, 1984). Given thechanging demand for housing driven by the unprecedented population increaseof Aecra, the question is raised: how can the operative building codes beadapted to improve the housing delivery system for the urban poor?1.3.0 An Overview of Accra’s Housing SituationThe evolution of Aecra’s housing problem dates back to the mid 1950’s whenthe country obtained political independence from the British colonialadministration. It is the growth of Accra as the capital and the primate city ofGhana that, has culminated in the housing problems. Much of this growth hasbeen due to rural-urban migration. This is borne out by the fact that between1960 and 1970, the national population growth rate for Ghana was 2.4 per centwhereas the equivalent growth rate of Accra was 3.5 per cent. Compared to the1990 national growth rate of 2.7 per cent, the city’s growth rate was 4.6 percent. The prominent place held by the city’s urbanization process has meant thathousehold formation has been rapid, rising ahead of provision of urban facilities4like housing. The result has been constant shortage and “substandard” housesbeing occupied by the urban poor (HUDA, 1990).In Ghana, as in most Third World countries, the provision of adequate housingwithin a wholesome environment has become one of the cardinal objectives ofmost successive governments. However, the yawning gaps between demandand supply of housing and its associated infrastructure services continue to bethe dominant problem characterizing the development process of the capital cityof Accra. The picture of the housing “crises” becomes more gloomy when thehousing situation is further analyzed in terms of unequal levels of access to thelimited resources by the various socio-economic groups in the urban setting.This has culminated in most of the urban dwellers living in low incomecommunities without essential services. Even where these services are providedthrough their own initiative and resources, rapid increases in residentialdensities without a corresponding increase in the supply of these services haverendered them ineffective.The ownership of a house for the immediate family or household is a populardesire in Ghana. Ownership of the house and the land on which it stands offersthe household a sense of security and pride. However, this aspiration is out ofreach to most households because of the cost involved in the construction of‘standard houses’ and their low incomes. It is therefore, becoming increasinglydifficult for the urban poor residents to own a house that is in line withmunicipal standards.With incomes falling in real terms, the cheapest shelter built to satisfy municipalstandards in Accra would cost upwards of 12MW (multiples of the annual5minimum wage). Even that would be net of land and servicing cost. Plot costwould require another 5MW at least (Korboe, 1992). In 1989, the World Bankexpressed deep concern that Ghana’s house-price-to-income ratio was higherthan any country for which records were available (World Bank, 1989).The housing situation has become more critical in Accra which is the capitaland primate city in Ghana. According to HUDA (1990), whilst themetropolitan area is growing at an annual population growth rate of 4.6 per centthe housing production rate has fallen below the corresponding populationgrowth leaving an accumulated housing delivery deficit of 27,460 units. Theenormity of the housing problem can be well appreciated if this figure iscompared to the current production rate of 444 housing units per year within themetropolis. Projections indicate that if the annual population growth rate of 4.6per cent is sustained up to the year 2010, then nearly 200,000 extra dwellingunits would be needed in the next two decades. The housing crisis hasculminated in slow rate of housing starts with the rich, government officials andthose with political connections controlling the limited legal housing market.Access to housing for the urban poor is now more restricted than ever before.The consequence has been the low income urban residents solving their ownaccommodation problems through the construction of houses that are consideredby housing technocrats and policy makers as illegal because they do notconform to the operative building codes in the municipality. The extension ofinfrastructure services to these settlements is therefore not on the municipalagenda. This may be a contributing factor in the proliferation of slums in thoseparts of the city where sanitation is the poorest with little or no public services.Though current data on slum settlements in the city of Accra are not available,6in 1984 it was estimated that 53 per cent of the city’s population were living inslums- that is in non-conformity with local building and land use regulations(Ghosh, 1984).1.3.1 Informal or illegal housing sectorThe housing development processes in Accra are generally characterized byinformality or illegality and formality or legality. A review of the literature ofhousing development revealed that, this is common in most Third Worldcountries that were formerly under colonial administration. Laquian (1983)observed that the imposition of outmoded building codes in most developingcountries had culminated in open violation of codes by majority of the residents.This explains the growth of informal or illegal settlements.In the informal or illegal housing sector in Ghana where most of the lands areacquired from customary land owners, the houses are not built in accordancewith any town planning layout. In addition, the buildings are not constructedwith any building plans. The absence of building plans or any form ofdevelopment control means that the house owners could vary their buildingoperations to suit their circumstances. These types of houses generally called‘traditional compound houses’ constituted about 51 per cent of the city’shousing stock in 1990 (HUDA, 1990). The process of development usuallyinvolves first the occupation of the land, followed by building and pirating fromthe main services supply lines (if available). This is a process similar to whatBaross (1988) calls “Occupation, Building, Servicing and Planning.” Thehouses built from this informal sector are mostly fmanced from personalincomes through a process of incremental development.7It must be emphasized that “informal” housing in Ghana should not be confusedwith the notion of land illegality associated with squatter settlements in someLatin American cities. In short, the owners of illegal or unauthorized housingin Accra are not squatters. Almost all the house owners hold at least arecognized customary allocation note on the land on which their houses standwhich was issued by the authoritative landholder (usually the chief). Theabsence of squatters may be due to the fact that, lands in Ghana and other WestAfrican countries are shrouded in spiritual and religious myths. The concept ofthe land or earth as a deity or goddess appears to be a generally accepted normin the sub region. The care of land, in turn, is vested in traditional chiefs whomanage the allocation of traditional lands.Among the Ashantis of Ghana, Busia (1951) has observed that land is asupernatural feminine spirit that can be helpful if propitiated and harmful ifneglected. The belief is so strong that before an Ashanti farmer cultivates anew farm, he offers a sacrifice of mashed yam, eggs and a fowl to the spirit ofthe earth to propitiate her to ensure his safety and a good harvest while heworks on the land (Siriboe II, 1975). It is believed that the dead ancestors shedtheir blood to preserve the land for posterity and that those living are onlycustodians of dead ancestors and generations yet unborn. According to severalauthors (Elias, 1956; Ollenu, 1962; Lloyd, 1962 and Asante, 1975), in WestAfrica generally land belongs to a community defined as a ‘vast family of whichmany are dead, few are living, and countless members are unborn.’ Similarly,in Accra this notion of continuity is so strong that, most occupiers of land doso with the consent of the land owning group. Peoples’ attitude towardscustoms and beliefs regarding land ownership and the role of spirits of the dead8in the affairs of the living may be the reason for the absence of squattersettlements in the city (Konadu-Agyemang, 1991).1.3.2 Formal or legal housing sectorIn the formal housing sector where most of the lands are acquired from theState, strict compliance with all development controls is demanded. The formalhouses are usually designed and built for single families that are in the high andupper middle income groups. This type of houses that are typical western stylesand quality ranges from three to four bedrooms with exclusive garages,kitchens, bathrooms, toilets and other appropriate conveniences. Most of theformal housing developers who obtain capital from the financial institutionsfollow a process of “Planning, Servicing, Building and Occupation.” Accordingto HUDA (1990), these houses constituted about 22.4 per cent of the cityhousing stock surveyed.The remaining housing stock surveyed which constituted about 26.6 per centwere constructed with a combination of formal and informal developmentprocesses. With this category of housing development, the prospectivedevelopers initially obtain the development permit by complying with thenecessary procedures to obtain municipal approval for the extension ofinfrastructure and services. However in the process of housing development,undue advantage is taken over the weak monitoring by the City’s buildinginspectors. The approved design is therefore substantially amended to reflectpersonal preferences and circumstances, all with the intent of avoiding thepenalty of seemingly unrealistic building codes, (that is, the denial ofinfrastructure and services).91.3.3 ServicesHousing in this study has been defined to include not only the shelter structure,but also the plot on which the shelter stands and the services provided for theplot such as water, energy supply, waste disposal drainage, etc. In Accra mosturban poor houses lack these basic services.Asiama (1985) observed that poor households build a large part of the housingstock in Accra. Where the results fall short of the desired municipal buildingstandards poverty is not always the cause. The efforts are rather hampered bylack of public services like water, electricity, drainage, etc., which themunicipalities have failed to provide. Thus in Accra, rather than lack ofavailability of raw land, it is the lack of services by public utilities and otherurban services that creates major bottlenecks for the urban poor in their housingdevelopment.1.4.0 Statement of ProblemThe search for a more comprehensive understanding of the linkages betweenservices accessibility and urban poor housing, is the main subject of this study.The purpose of the study is to examine the inadequate housing conditionsfacing three urban poor communities in Accra, from the perspective of servicesaccessibility and imposition of municipal building codes. Although it isadmitted that planning regulations shaping the housing development processinclude building codes, regulations, subdivision laws and zoning, this studyfocuses on building codes. The research question is: are the building codespreventing or promoting the proliferation of slums in the city?10For the past four decades, access to the city’s services has been restricted to theupper middle and high income groups, senior government officials and seniorarmy personnel. The urban poor who cannot afford to build according toofficial building codes are forced to operate outside the law. They often resortto illegal water supplies and illegal electricity connections where they exist. Itis understandable that the enforcement of the building codes, which to a largeextent determines the direction of municipal investment in infrastructure andpublic services, is meant to ensure that basic health and safety standards aremet. But by demanding unrealistic and expensive standards, they condemn thepoor majority to never enjoying the protection of these standards. The overalleffect is that urban services and other public utilities are not legally accessibleto the poor neighborhoods in Accra.The study intends to address the rationale and enforcement of this institutionalbottleneck, ‘building codes,’ which block services to the urban poor and thushinder their survival strategies in the city. Alternative means of coming up withmore flexible and pragmatic building codes are suggested.1.5.0 Scope of the StudyThis study examines the shelter and service conditions of three low incomecommunities located within the Accra Metropolitan Area of Ghana. Thecommunities are Nima (an inner city settlement), Madina and Ashiaman(peripheral settlements). The focus of the study will be on housing tenure andtype of construction materials used in housing development processes, standardof design and services provided. These are discussed in relation to thespecifications of the building codes, and related issues. Where appropriate11peripheral references are made to zoning and land use regulations whichcontribute to housing delivery system in the city.1.6.0 Significance of the StudyThe study of urban poor housing is appropriate because the urban poorconstitute the majority of the city’s population but are ironically housed in themost deplorable unsanitary areas of the city. Their housing circumstances arenot only dictated by limited funds but by institutional factors like buildingcodes which penalize the poor and hinder their survival strategies in the city. In1984, 53 per cent of the city’s population were classified as living in slum areas(Ghosh, op cit.,), i.e., buildings in contravention with municipal building codesand devoid of services like water, electricity, sanitation, roads, drainage, etc.The high income group and those with political connections who constitute lessthan 5 percent of the city’s population, are the few who can technically be saidto have legal access to these services (Merrill, 1988). The upper middleincome group acting through their various corporations and public authoritiesalso have some access to the services. This has contributed to the continuedincrease of the urban poor in the slum settlements.Most government policies and programs aimed at the urban poor housingsituation have often tended to be tentative and focus narrowly on specific issueslike financing without addressing other related issues. The current debate andthe continued increase of the housing problem have attracted the Government’sattention. In 1985, the Government commissioned the Ministry of Works andHousing to formulate a National Housing Policy to critically examine thecountry’s housing problem with the aim of initiating more pragmatic12approaches. This led to the National Housing Action Plan from 1985 to 1990.The policy did not, however, address the housing problem of the urban poor.In 1987, the Government further commissioned the same Ministry of Works andHousing to look at the concept of housing standards in the country in line withthe operative building codes - The Town and Country Planning Ordinance -,which was inherited from British Colonial Administration in 1947 and hassince been in operation. The report was also to address the seemingly obsoletebuilding codes in relation to the realistic situation being faced by the urbanresidents in their housing development process. The outcome of the report is yetto be made for public consumption and can therefore not be presumed to takecare of all segments and income groups in the city.Since 1988, better urban poor housing has become a high priority of theGhanaian Government. In his January 1988 budget speech, the Government’sSecretary for Finance and Economic Planning stated that:“The availability of housing, particularly low income housing,had not kept pace with urbanization. The existing stock isinadequately maintained, and numerous structures have been leftuncompleted” (Dr. Kwesi Botchway cited in Merrill, 1988).Without prejudicing any of the on going surveys and analysis, this studychallenges the conventional city planning wisdom of insisting on minimumstandards in housing development as specified in the building codes. It arguesfor flexibility to accommodate the urban poor in the city’s infrastructure andpublic utility services.131.7.0 Research ObjectivesThe study has one long term goal and three operational objectives.1.7.1 Long Term ObjectivesIn the long term the study adds new insight to the study of low income housingin developing countries and especially in the West African context. In thisconnection the study has contributed to the framework of guiding andstimulating the growth of Third World cities, not only through environmentalimprovement for the current population but also to accommodate a possibledoubling of the cities’ population within the next twenty years.1.7.2 Short Term ObjectivesIn the short term, the study has;1. Identified and analyzed the relationship between services and urban poorhousing in Accra,2. Analyzed the impact of the operative building codes on urban poor settlements,3. Examined how the implications of the study can guide policy formulation in thecity, the nation and other third world countries where services accessibility andassociated issues create problems of urban management.1.8.0 Theoretical Framework’Alternative approaches to low income housing problems in Third Worldcountries came about in the mid 1960’s, when it was gradually realized that thetraditional solution of public housing and slum clearance were not effective. Asmany low income urbanites disregarded planning policies and started solvingtheir housing problems through informal settlements, more attention came to be1Housing theories are discusseed in greater detail in chapter two.14paid to this informal solution tried by the urban poor. The study thereforeadopts a theoretical framework of the ‘New Housing Settlement Paradigm’ withAbrams (1964) and Turner (1968, 1972, and 1976) as the chief proponents.The other known authors of this school of thought include: Laquian (1972,1983), Doebele (1978, 1987), Angel (1983), Baross (1983, 1987) and Burgess(1978, 1982).The study questions the underlying rationale that houses which do not meet therequirements of the operating building codes should be denied access toinfrastructure and services. Angel (1983), makes this position more vivid whenhe argued that:“Efforts to construct public housing for poor families must beabandoned in the face of impossible fmancial constraints and bereplaced by the opening of new serviced areas where low incomepeople can build their houses gradually over time...”Angel’s position is supported by Otto Koenigsberger who observed that:“If government cannot improve a low-income majority’s housing conditionsthen it must not build houses” (Koenigsberger, cited in Turner, 1983:210).This gradual approach to housing improvements as argued by Angel and others,requires the acceptance of slum or make shift dwellings mostly occupied by theurban poor as legitimate forms of urban housing which in principle must beimproved rather than ignored.Another theoretical issue supporting the main subject of this study is theconcepts of basic housing standards explored by Laquian (1983), Turner (1976)and others. These critics accuse minimum standards of inhibiting the efforts ofthe poor to build houses for themselves, thereby limiting the number ofdwelling units that can be made available to them. Such standards do not state15the people’s housing needs in terms of priorities. In most developing countriesthe priorities of the poor are not appreciated by the high income legislators,technicians and administrators. These policy makers view the city fromaesthetics point and comparable to cities in the advanced countries where theywere educated, without looking at the importance of housing per Se. Theimportant thing about housing was pointed out in particularly cogent terms byTurner (1968), when he argued that:“Housing is not what it is, but what it does in people’s lives, inorder words the dweller satisfaction is not necessarily related tothe imposition of standards...”The imposition of such standards usually reflected in unrealistic building codesare usually disregarded by the urban poor because they cannot afford to meetthose standards and as such are not meant for them. They therefore see suchstandards as an imposition of an alien ideology intended to be an exploitativetool by the elite.The literature on Third World housing abounds in numerous instances wherelow income houses demolished for not complying with the building codes haveculminated in the people merely relocating the units in other geographical areasof the city. The effects of eradicating existing slums and shanty towns destroyedsome of the cheapest housing options opened to the urban poor, therebyworsening the housing problems through increased illegal settlements. Theresult of such actions is usually to make conditions even worse in other urbanpoor settlements as those evicted have to double up with other households orbuild another shack in another urban poor settlement.16Laquian (1983) affirmed that, the impositions of unrealistic building codes indeveloping countries have culminated in its open violation by about 40 per centof those people living in make shift dwellings. The dismal failure of thebuilding code enforcement compelled most Governments to house the poorsections of the population in the so called “standard low cost” public housing.This approach has mostly failed because the supply could not meet the everincreasing demand. Secondly, low cost standards units turned out to be tooexpensive for the target groups.Because of increased cost, very often the units so produced were rented or soldat prices that the low income group could not afford. During certain occasionsthe poor had to be forced into government public housing against their will andhave suffered from what Turner (1976) calls “conditions of oppressivehousing.” Such public housing units were too high an architectural standard forthe poor and too expensive.This does not mean that the poor have not benefited at all, for they often soldtheir rights to new families. But building for middle income families was notwhat the agencies believed, or at least pretended, they were doing. Thus apartfrom Singapore and Hong Kong whose unique positions as city-states madepublic housing relatively successful, the programs failed in most Third Worldcountries in terms of sustained commitment especially in meeting low incomeneeds owing to the perception of an acceptable standard (Epstein, 1972).The researcher does not intend to supplant the essence of building codes.Building codes and housing standards do have their uses, but they should bebased on existing situations and reflect current realities. The variety of housingdemand especially in most Third World countries is immense and therefore17require highly diversified approaches where the house users can manage andmaintain their dwelling units after design and construction. If planning isconfused with design and strict rules indicating what all people andorganizations must follow, enterprise will be inhibited, resources will be lostand only the rich will benefit to the disadvantage of the low income urbanresidents. The variable nature of three universal housing needs as identified byTurner (1976:97) namely:• Access to the people, institutions and amenities on which their livelihooddepends,• Tolerable degree of shelter from the view point of climate and communityneeds,• Tenure long enough to make the housing investment worthwhile.These elements should be satisfied within the limits that the household andneighbors concerned can accept.The brief theoretical background is intended to support the researcher’s opinionthat, if urban poor policies in Ghana are to be meaningful, then the people mustbe enabled to do something for themselves. Government policies must begeared towards the development of institutions to facilitate the urban poor toprovide housing for themselves. A start could be made through the provision ofservices by revising the existing building codes.1.9.0 Research MethodologyCase studies and qualitative analysis were the methodologies used in this study.A very substantial part of the data base in chapter four of the study is derivedfrom an unpublished report by Housing and Urban Development Associates(HUDA, 1990 Volumes 1,2 &3) entitled “The Housing Needs and Assessment18Study of Accra, Ghana.” The researcher was a participant in the design andimplementation of this study in his capacity as the Assistant Estates Manager ofthe State Insurance Corporation of Ghana, one of the housing related agencies inthe country. The work was jointly funded by the UNDP, UNCHS and TheGovernment of Ghana.The main working tool for the collection of specified data was the closedquestionnaire administered by well trained and motivated groups ofinterviewers. Officials of relevant housing related institutions and bodies wereinterviewed for more information on the housing situation in the city. Two setsof questionnaire were prepared and administered in the survey. They were:1.9.1 House owner QuestionnaireThis dealt with the housing development process and its physical characteristicssuch as land cost and plot size, preparation of building plan, construction cost,construction materials, title held, availability of amenities and services suchkitchens, bathrooms, toilets, water, electricity, garbage collection, schools,clinics or health post, etc.1.9.2 Head of Household QuestionnaireThis dealt with household data such as size, income, expenditure, length of stayin the city, types of employment, means of transportation to work, etc.1.10.0 Survey Method - Probabilistic Sampling ApproachThe survey was undertaken during the first quarter of 1990 through theapplication of selective stratified sampling technique. It covered 33communities in Accra that included all the low income communities in the city.19The low income communities classified in the survey as High Density LowClass Sector, included the three communities covered by this study, namely:Nima, Madina and Ashiaman. These communities where sanitation, drainageand urban services were the poorest accommodated the majority of the city’spoorest residents.The interviewers were trained to systematically select every tenth house on eachlane and interview the house owner and one head of household in each house.This was to ensure a fair distribution of the sample at the community level. Theinterviewers were assigned to specific communities for the administration ofthe questionnaires. The completed questionnaires were submitted to theirsupervisors every evening after the days work for review. This ensuredeffective supervision and control of the interviewers to reduce the biases thatmight be noticed. Out of the total 5733 houses in the three study communities(Government of Ghana Census, 1984), the number of houses covered totaled110 with a sample percentage of 1.9 as detailed in Table 1 below:Table 1: Number of Houses SurveyedCOMMUNITY HOUSESNima 20Madina 40Ashiaman 50Total 110The actual survey was preceded by a pilot survey of Madina to test thequestionnaire in terms of interpretation of the questions by the interviewers,20ability of interviewers to record responses accurately, ability of respondents tounderstand and provide the required information, identification of generalproblems likely to crop up during the actual survey and how to cope with them.Secondary DataThe secondary data includes books, journals, publications and articles writtenon the housing situation in Ghana and other Third World countries.Other Sources of DataThe researcher’s personal experience and subjective information were also used.These were augmented with unstructured interviews with relevant persons likecity planning officials, residents and community leaders of the low incomesettlements and representatives of the Ghana Real Estate Developers Association(GREDA)- an association established in 1990 to assist in the housing deliverysystem in the country.1.11.0 Limitations of the StudyLittle is known about Ghana and its housing conditions much less low incomehousing in the capital city. Thus a fundamental limitation of the study was thedearth of information and the lack of accurate and reliable statistics. This ispartly due to the absence of workable framework for housing developmentdemanding monitoring and evaluation. Data relating to such vital issues as thenature and number of housing stock, tenure arrangements, density levels andthe quality of housing are either non- existent or their reliability is suspicious.Also of some significance is the absence of data on the population who inhabitthe houses that are built. The few sociological studies that have been21undertaken on the population have concentrated on issues other than housing.The results are thus related to housing only in a peripheral way. Thus currentdata on household formation and other population issues relating to housing ona national scale and the Accra Metropolitan Area in particular are still notavailable for public consumption.Another handicap of the study was the limited time and finances that preventedthe author from undertaking an exclusive independent survey of the selectedcase study area.It was also observed in the survey that some house owners were not resident inthe houses and the occupants were not in a position to provide the requiredinformation. This refers especially to those relating to the development processof the building, that is, cost, land acquisition procedures, year of construction,etc.The houses surveyed were chosen through the application of selective stratifiedsampling technique. The small sample size of 1.9 per cent and conclusionsdrawn in this study can not be used as a universal application of the conditionsbeing faced by all low income residents in the city or the country.1.12.0 Definition of Concepts and TermsThe following terms and concepts are defined as follows in this study:1. Access to water: Households obtaining municipal water supply from a publicstandpipe within the neighborhood.222. Access to electricity: Households with legal municipal electricity supply.3. Household: In Ghana, this includes all persons who live together and sharehousekeeping arrangements or eat from the same pot.4. House: A house is a dwelling place or building sited on a plot of land. Itmay have none, one or more of the following facilities and services: kitchen,toilet, bathroom, water, electricity.5. Housing: Housing refers to the process through which shelter is provided.This includes the physical structure, the construction process and the provisionof infrastructure and services.6. Informal Housing: These are low income housing developments that do notfully conform with official building codes and standards. Houses in thiscategory are regarded as unauthorized developments because the constructionwas done without planning approval7. Bathroom: In the study communities, this is a room (usually detached fromthe house) with a small drainage hole at the base of the wall.8. Kitchen: In the study communities this is a shelter or temporary structureused for storing utensils.1.13.0 Organization of the ThesisFollowing this introduction, the next chapter reviews the relevant literature onbuilding codes and minimum housing standards in developing countries. It23traces the history of building codes from the time of King Hammurabi ofBabylon in 1700 BC. The history weaves through the adoption of building codesin pre industrial Europe and their subsequent adoption in Ghana throughcolonization. After examining the rationales for the adoption of the buildingcodes, on the basis of European perception of standard housing, this chapteraddresses some of the stipulations of the building codes in Ghana. These arediscussed in relation to the local culture, climate, resources, materials andskills, which have culminated in the difficulty of enforcing the codes. It endswith the denial of basic services like water, electricity and sanitation for theurban poor who cannot afford the standards demanded, and argues for theadoption of a more realistic building code.Chapter three looks at the study communities from the perspective of theirgeographical location in Acera, historical development of the communities andtheir settlement patterns. The different housing types and tenure in the city andhow they impact access to services are also discussed. This chapter furtherindicates that, contrary to the notion of ‘home ownership’ associated with mostillegal settlements in Latin America, South East Asia and other Africancountries, most urban poor living in substandard houses in Accra, Ghana aretenants and rent-free occupants (relatives of house owners).Chapter four examines the housing development processes, conditions and levelof services provided in the three urban poor communities in Accra namelyNima, Madina and Ashiaman. It discusses housing characteristics, type ofconstruction materials and services provided. It examines data and analysis ofthe study communities, indicating that, the processes through which most urban24poor build and use their houses are divergent with the building codes asperceived and interpreted by housing technocrats and policy makers.The final chapter ties together the major conclusions of the Thesis. It drawssome important generalizations and insights from the research fmdings andexamines the policy implication for housing development in Accra. It concludesthat, the building codes in their present form have negative effects on theimprovement of housing for the urban poor. On the basis of the findings andinsights, it argues for the revision or reclassification of the building codes toreflect the realities and different affordability levels in the city. This could leadto the elimination of some of the key bottlenecks restricting the access of theurban poor to basic infrastructure and services in the city and consequentlyimprove their housing conditions.25CHAPTER TWO - EVOLUTION AND ENFORCEMENT OF BUILDINGCODES2.1.0 IntroductionHousing is accepted as one of the basic necessities of life, whether it be in theform of a shack or a mansion, located in a slum or in a beautifully landscapedarea. In most Third World countries the housing classification of either a‘slum dwelling’ or ‘standard house’ has been through the institution of townplanning intervention. The key instruments have been regulatory measures suchas building codes, subdivision laws and zoning. This study ,however, focuseson building codes. Physical developments in statutory planning areas areregulated by these codes and laws which to a large extent determine thedirection of municipal infrastructure and services. Developments are supposedto meet certain standards stipulated in these codes before they are givenplanning approval, infrastructure and services.In the case of Accra, the standards specified in the codes are based on foreignliving standards fashioned by former colonial administrators as the mostdesirable, and thus often disallow the use of indigenous building materials in theconstruction of new houses. By applying these foreign standards in an entirelydifferent urban setting, a large proportion of existing housing stock builtthrough traditional construction methods are stigmatized as “unauthorized orsub-standard” developments and therefore officially illegal. Such illegalstructures mostly occupied by the urban poor are prima facie not authorized toreceive infrastructure and services, because they are proceeding without officialcontrol or direction (Kanyeihamba and McAuslan, 1978).262.2.0 What Is a Building Code?Building codes are types of regulations which impinge upon housingdevelopment. The other regulations are subdivision laws, zoning provisions,housing standards and professional culture of people involved in housing andurban services.A building code is a legal document which sets forth requirements to protect thepublic health, safety and general welfare as they relate to the construction andoccupancy of buildings and structures. This is accomplished by establishing theminimum acceptable conditions for matters found to be in need of regulation(Thompson, 1949:2). Topics generally covered are exits, fire protection,structural design, sanitary facilities, light and ventilation, etc. The majorpurpose of building codes therefore, is for the protection of persons who haveno voice in the manner of construction or the arrangement of buildings.2.2.1 Types of CodesBuilding codes are commonly classified as being specfication codes orperformance codes. The specWcation code describes in detail exactly whatmaterials are to be used, the size and spacing of units and the methods ofassembly. The performance code, on the other hand, prescribes the objective tobe accomplished and allows broad leeway to the designers in selecting thematerials and methods that will achieve the required results. For the purposeof this study the specification code will be used since that is what is in operationin Ghana. For practical purposes of including low income settlements in futurebuilding codes, the issue Of performance code will be revisited later in thisstudy.272.3.0 Historical Development of Building CodesThe genesis of building codes is first recorded to have begun in approximately1700 BC. during the reign of King Hammurabi of Babylon, when he attemptedto codify the many laws of the land he had conquered.. Article 229 of that codereads as follows:“If a builder has built a house for man, and his work is notstrong, and if the house he has built falls in and kills thehouseholder, that builder shall be slain” (cited in Sanderson,1969:5).The harsh penalties and inhuman requirements of these early regulations werethe forerunners of the many detailed codes and ordinances that are necessary tothe protection of the public health, safety, and welfare in our modem society.Since the time of Hammurabi, building codes have been developed over theyears as part of human effort to prevent those disasters that are within peoples’power to prevent. In England, which influenced the operation of building codesin Ghana owing to colonization, the government recognized that they have aresponsibility to protect their people by enacting and enforcing buildingregulations. Fire hazards inherent in buildings were the basis of the earliestbuilding regulations in England.In his discussion about the history of building codes and regulation in England,Ferguson (1974) noted that prior to introduction of building codes in London,the city was built of wood and that the roofs were covered with straw or stubbleor thatched in similar manner. It was in 1136 AD, during the reign of KingStevens, when fire outbreak destroyed the major parts of the city that manycitizens started to build their houses of stones to avoid a similar disaster.28Following this experience an “Assize” (written agreement) was made in 1189 inLondon, which stated inter alia:• .There, in this ordinance, called an Assize, it has been orderedand declared that citizens shall build in stone...” (Corporation ofLondon Records Office cited in Ferguson, 1974: 43).2.4.0 The Colonial Impact on Building CodesThe crisis in shelter provision in most African and Asian countries, has partlybeen attributed not only to the tremendous demographic changes andredistribution of population that have taken place in these countries, but also tothe fact that policy solutions are applied to the situation that are inappropriate(Mabogunje, et a!. 1978). Perhaps the most important examples of this wrongapproach are standards and criteria for shelter provision which were importedfrom metropolitan countries and applied with little modification in thecompletely different circumstances of colonial territories. The operativebuilding codes and standards applied to shelter provision in Ghana, notably“Town and Country Planning Ordinance of 1947,” are clearly recognizableextensions of similar normative requirements in Britain in the 19th and early20th Centuries.The standards stipulated by the colonial policies in their housing developmentprocess were intended for the welfare of European officials or settlers. Indeed,in some countries the object was to provide accommodation for officials thatwas not too dissimilar from what they were used to in their home country.This, it was hoped, would reduce their sense of separation from home andalienation from their own society (King, 1976:147). The result was anemphasis on imported building materials and on designs reminiscent of those in29the metropolitan country . For example, early colonial architecture in manyWest African countries made provision for fireplace in the sitting room to beused particularly during the Christmas period, even though room temperaturewas in the upper twenty degrees Celsius (Mabogunje, et, al., op. cit.).Subsequently, these foreign constructions came to acquire significance of aninnovation and status symbol. The elite in the local communities regardedbuildings in similar material and design as a hallmark of their social arrival.The wholesale adoption of foreign standards and a complete indifference totraditional standards quickly came to be the order of the day. The situation wasreinforced in the education of those whose proper role might have been to strivefor more appropriate sets of standards and criteria. Trained in Europe andUnited States, they came back to occupy positions formerly held by foreignofficials and technocrats, and wanted to maintain the status quo.Other circumstances that have also facilitated the imposition of foreignstandards in shelter provision are large scale housing construction such asMamprobi, Kaneshie and Kanda estates in Accra, Ghana. Of necessity thesehad to operate to some agreed standards. Most of the construction companiesthat built in theses areas tended to be foreign firms, and both cultural inclinationand vested interest led to preference for standards and criteria with which theywere familiar. Moreover, in the absence of any dependable research on localbuilding materials, or of any significant local industrial production of suchmaterials, they were constrained to order from foreign suppliers, buildingmaterials which were in popular demand in developed countries. Although thissituation is understandable, the expense and foreign origin of the shelter30provided in this way has helped to generate a popular feeling that houses builtaccording to traditional rules and standards were inferior.In many countries in Latin America and Africa a ‘facade syndrome’ isnoticeable in urban areas: houses are provided with a frontage that makes themappear to be constructed of ‘superior’ imported materials and designed toforeign standards. In Ethiopia, for example, during the reign of Haile Selassie,it was imperative that house roofs be painted red or pink to imitate the color ofroof tiles in Europe, and their mud walls were hidden behind opaque fences(Mabogunje, et, al., op. cit.). A similar desire for ‘respectable’ facade isnoticeable in the widespread practice of applying a plaster of cement to mudwalls in Ghana and other African countries.Even though some West African urban centers flourished before the Europeanscame, many cities at present bear the imprints of colonialism. Cities likeAccra, Abidjan, Dakar, Dar Es Salaam and Lagos, were selected as colonialcapitals due to their coastal locations. Apart from being the seats of the colonialadministration, they served as ports for the shipment of raw materials to theWest as well as the center for the diffusion of western values, technology andstandards.After independence, most of the cities became the capitals of the newlyindependent nations. The politicians and planners having been influenced byyears of diffusion of western standards were committed to the modernization ofthe indigenous cities. With the assistance of foreign consultants, ambitiousmaster plans were prepared to provide the means to visually reproduce westerncities in developing countries. These master plans were generally insensitive to31the local architecture and cultural heritage. They produced elaborate land usemaps and building codes which basically rendered most local building materialsand architecture substandard and illegal. Subsequent housing developmentsalong the local architectural and cultural outlook were therefore not suppliedwith infrastructure and public services because they were “substandard andillegal.” A typical example in Ghana, is the construction of massive highwaysacross indigenous urban settlements often occupied by low income households.The Nima highway in Accra displaced many of the urban poor residents. Thesite allocated to the displaced victims have to date not been supplied withelectricity nor linked to the city’s garbage collection system, because the newhousing units are substandard.2.5.0 Rationales for Building Codes and StandardsAnalysis of the existing official building standards in Ghana which has generalapplication in all parts of the country shows that they are not aimless; they havebeen created and at least particularly enforced to achieve certain ends. They areconceived under the “police powers” of the State to regulate buildingconstruction. These powers are codified in legal provisions which allow thestate or municipality to intercede to assure the health and safety of their citizens.Since their inception in Babylon during the time of Hammurabi, most buildingcodes are derived from their historic development; in that they have generallybeen written as responses to specific events occurring at the scale of thecountry, city or town. The fundamental purpose of building codes has been toensure that buildings neither “fall down nor burn up,” or at least do so at ratesleast damaging to the society or their occupants.32Gilbert (1990), argues that in some Latin American countries building codeshave also been used for political control through a system of client-patronagerelationships. The use of regulations to create a dual city of legal and illegalhousing allows the politicians to reward their own clients and ignore those ofothers. According to Gilbert (1990), in such circumstances the building codescould be used as a method of rationing services. If the poor complain that theyhave not received services, then the government can blame the illegality of thesettlements. In other words the governments can use the regulations as areason for benign neglect or inaction. In Gilbert’s view, in so far as thegovernment is always short of resources, and the capacity to provide servicesand infrastructure is weak, this form of rationing is very useful. Though thisrationale may appear to be successful in the short run, it cannot be maintainedin the long. It also cannot achieve a more environmentally sustainable urbansetting, in illegal settlements springing up in most Third World cities.Many administrators presently defend building codes and minimum housingstandards as being necessary for health and safety, economy and efficiency.They contend that if people are not told what should be built, and how suchthings should be built, the result would be anarchy and the rights of peoplewould not be protected. The concern for safety may be seen in codes thatprohibit the use of grass thatch, reeds and bamboo in urban areas as these areconsidered to be fire hazards. It is reflected in careful specifications for the useof special foundation and materials for house-building in earthquake zones.Moreover, the fear of epidemics is behind regulations on how many people canlive in a house, and other sanitary measures adopted in residential areas. Intechnologically advanced countries, the institution and enforcement of such33building codes and minimum housing standards have made great contribution tohuman welfare.In developing countries, however, there are many who question the usefulnessbuilding codes and uniform housing standards. These critics notably Turner(1976, 1983), Laquian (1983) and others believe that standards inhibit theefforts of the urban poor to build houses for themselves, thereby limiting thenumber of dwelling units that can be made available to the people. Within thehousing literature, the supporters of building codes were branded as“obstructionist” and blamed for the perpetuation of high building costs (Ventre,1977; Trellis, 1977). Without recognizing the heterogeneity of society andtherefore allowing for the co-existence of different standards, most buildingcodes prescribed minimum standards which all people and organization mustconform to. This rigid application of uniform standards saw most low incomecommunities as unauthorized and were therefore deprived of infrastructure andother public utility services; an issue that has contributed to the deplorablehousing conditions facing the urban poor in most developing countries.2.6.0 Western Standards and Third World RealitiesAs previously mentioned, Town and Country Planning laws passed in Britainwere used by colonial administrators in Africa without regard for localconditions. For example in poor African countries, the codes made assumptionsabout levels of private car ownership in designing road widths and parkingprovision, based on criteria in use in Europe. The plan gave little thought tothe “obvious fact that most inhabitants would walk or cycle to work or shops orto visit friends” (Linda, 1983). Similarly, most of the range of norms andcodes governing housing, building and planning assumed that most people will34live in ‘nuclear families’ with one or two children who go to school, and withthe house and place of employment separated. This has led to many housedesigns and site plans at odds with family size and structure, community needs,cultural preferences and the pattern of employment (Afrane, 1993).Confirming the disparity between western style of site lay-out and specificcultural needs of Africans, Coroline Moser (1987) has documented many waysin which western norms and codes have ignored or misunderstood women’sneeds.The validity of applying rigid standards and defming substandard housing at thecity level has even been questioned in western countries like the United Statesas early as 1936. Basset(1936) criticized uniform standards and zoning on thegrounds that they originated as the response of the elite to protect their lowdensity housing from the threat of tenements or recent immigrants who surgedinto the cities in the early decades of the century. In his paper on squattersettlements in Latin American cities, Gilbert (1990) supported Basset indiscussing the issue of western standards and illegality associated with urbanplanning in developing countries. He maintains that it was the need to controlthe expansion of illegal settlements which led to the introduction of standardswhich defmes authorized and unauthorized developments.Gilbert and Gugler (1982) also question the imposition of western standards onThird World countries. They argue that;“For many Third World poor, our standards are irrelevantbecause they have more urgent needs. To a hungry family foodis of far greater importance than shelter, especially where theclimate is very dry and warm.” (Gilbert and Gugler, 1982:83).35They further argue that most of the criteria by which the housing conditions ofpoor countries are judged are highly subjective and ethnocentric. The needs ofthe poor in ordering their needs are frequently misunderstood by professionalsand technocrats who have lived most of their lives in the developed world. Thecentral theme of Gilbert and Gugler’s argument was that, the judgments abouthousing standards being faced by the urban poor in Third World cities, musttake into account different cultural, social and environmental conditions withinThird World cities.In most Third World cities, conventional rigid standards have also beenquestioned by Abrams (1964) and later by Turner (1972) and Laquian (1983).Similar criticisms have emanated in the field of architecture from Fraser (1969)and Rappoport (1977). Turner, arguably the chief proponent of low costhousing in developing countries, questions the issue of minimum standards andargues that it hinders the initiative of the poor. In his own words;“If government cannot, or will not make up the differencebetween what housing laws require and what the effectivedemand can purchase, then why do they create problems? Whyis the commonsense solution of allowing and encouraging peopleto make the best use of what they have, treated as subversivenonsense by the technocratic and bureaucratic institutions?.. .whyare these problems so universally defined in terms of what peopleought to have (in the view of the problem staters) instead of inrealistic terms of what people could have?” (Turner, 1972:151)The issue of uniform building standards being used by housing technocrats andpolicy makers to hinder the survival strategies of the urban poor have also beenquestioned as inappropriate by Hardoy and Satterthwaite (1989). In their bookon “Squatter Citizen, the life in the Urban Third World,” they argue that;36“There must be something wrong with a law or code if it is oftenbroken by so many people as they go about their daily lives. Toput this in perspective, one can envisage a standard which wouldbe inappropriate for a western city. All new housing could berequired to have large gardens say minimum of 300 squaremeters. Setting such a standard could be considered as‘improving living conditions’. But in any major city, the effectwould be to price most people out of the market since the cost ofincluding a garden of this size in all new units would enormouslyincrease their price. In effect, this is exactly what happens inmost Third World cities -existing codes and standards price mostThird World citizens out of the market.. “(Hardoy andSatterthwaite, 1989:31)In their view standards should be user relevant and not deny the right of thepoor to make do with whatever resources are available. This view supportsTurner’s description that a house is not “what it is” but “what it does” inpeoples lives.Supporting Turner’s views, Laquian (1983) criticized the ethnocentric view ofThird World housing when he argued that, in most developing countriesstandards and building codes have been handed down from colonialadministrators and have therefore little relevance to current situations.The author does not in any way intend to supplant the issue of standards inbuilding codes. Standards have been used to achieve a lot of welfare andenvironmental benefits in most of the developed countries and have theirrightful place in all types of human endeavor. It is however , improper to usethem as a universal measure of human values. For example uniform standardsof densities may be untenable. Density after all is relative and not verymeaningful in housing without reference to the culture and quality of life of aparticular social group. Conditions which may be stressful for some people37may be wholesome for others (Asante-Kyereme, 1980). What is the Africanexperience on the use colonial building codes in urban poor housing projects?2.7.0 Building Codes and Slum Upgrading/Serviced Sites in AfricaEuropean planning ideologies seemed to have dominated the development ofmost former colonies in Africa. For example, the development of Mtwara inTanzania, were based on stringent building controls which were not relevant toTanzanians. The building regulations and town planning controls were on thelines of “Model Clauses” attached to the planning schemes prepared under a1932 U.K. Ordinance (Linda, 1983:24). Recent decades have, however,witnessed a number of changes in concepts and attitudes towards the shelter andenvironment question in most African cities. Many of the pre-colonial buildingcodes and regulations are being questioned as well as flouted by those who aresupposed to observe them. One major change has been the abandoning of directprovision of housing by public authorities. Instead, self-help housing inunplanned or planned areas has been accepted or encouraged. A commonmethod of achieving this especially in the provision of housing for the urbanpoor is through site and service schemes or slum upgrading.In many of these projects, however, the targeted low income households havebeen replaced by those in the middle and upper income groups. The owneroccupation espoused in many of these projects has been replaced with subletting(Lusugga Kirondale, 1992). This mismatch between what is planned for, andwhat happens, has led Mattingly (1991) to wander whether shelter planners inAfrican cities understand the market they are working with. According to38Chana (1984), one of the reasons for the failure of such schemes is theunderlying standards inherent in most building codes in African countries.Drawing on experience from Kenya, Chana (1984, op, cit.,) noted that one ofthe problems of the Dondora Low Cost Housing Project in Nairobi was theissue of applicable existing building codes. The Nairobi City Council did notwant to approve the plans for the buildings and services because they did notconform to the adopted building codes (inherited from colonial administrators).After series of meetings the plans were amended to bring them in line with thebuilding codes. This subsequently resulted in increased cost of construction andcost overheads. The increased cost put the prices of the units and services outof the levels of the specified target low income groups, hence defeating thepurpose of the project.Similarly, Jere (1984) reported that the building codes Zambia inherited fromcolonial administrators did not cater for the majority of Zambians. Rather thanadvocating a solution through such inappropriate conventional housing, TheSecond National Development Plan (1972-76) took a bold step. Thegovernment recognized that, though most Zambians lived in squatter areas thatare unplanned, their houses nevertheless represented assets both in social andfmancial terms. The planning and provision of services to such areas werebetter than wholesale demolition or neglect. Despite the fact that these squattersettlements contravened the building codes, the government introduced someflexibility by designating some of the areas as special development zones wherethe provisions of the codes would not apply. Infrastructure services like water,electricity, roads were extended to the squatter settlements, having firstresolved the issue of security of tenure. The consequential effect was that more39than 50 per cent housing improvement was noticed after the extension ofservices to the units.Though there may be slight variations in other African cities, the use of colonialbuilding codes in solving the urban poor housing problem has produced similarresults in Nigeria and Ivory Coast (Mustapha, 1991; Grooteart and Jean-Luc,1986). The fluid situation in most African cities needs liberal and flexibleattitudes towards standards formation and enforcement in urban poor housingprojects. There is therefore the need to re-examine the adopted building codesif the slum communities are to be upgraded as an integral part of African cities.2.8.0 BUILDING CODES IN GHANAIn the context of planning and development the law applicable in Ghana may betraced to The Towns Ordinance, 1892 (Cap 86) which is arguably the genesis offormal planning in the country. During the colonial period, Ghana like most ofthe African countries operated under laws similar to those in force in the UnitedKingdom. With the enactment of comprehensive Town and Country planninglaws in the United Kingdom, the colonial administrators in Africa began toadopt the English planning system. The adoption was often done by simplytransplanting a UK Act to the recipient country with little or no modification tosuit local conditions and circumstances. Kanyeihamba (1980) observed thatthere was little difference between the Kenya Town and Country PlanningOrdinance, 1948 and the Town and Country Planning Act of England, 1947.Similarly when the 1947 planning Act of England was passed, an ordinance wasadopted in Ghana to replace the 1892 Ordinance. This legislation known as theTown and Country Planning Ordinance of 1947, which is still the operative40planning law in the country had most sections in common with the England Actof 1947.As part of the adoption process the law established Health Boards, and vestedthem with planning responsibilities to meet ad hoc problems or emergenciesregarding health, floods, earthquakes, control of building works and streetlayout, for the proper development of certain specified areas.In practice, the boards were more concerned with urban centers than with ruralareas. The latter were often ignored and left to develop largely under Africancustomary laws (McAuslan, 1968:65-66). Thus presently, the legal bases ofplanning, regulation and monitoring of land development in Ghana is “IhTown and Country Planning Ordinance of 1947. (Cap 84)”All urban centers in the country with 5000 or more people are covered bystatutory planning schemes under which all development operations mustconform. The development must be covered by the necessary planning anddevelopment permits, otherwise they are considered “unauthorized” and deniedgovernment infrastructure support and services. What is usually meant by“unauthorized development” is that the given activity has no official sanction,that whatever is being done is contrary to or outside the official plan and isproceeding without official control or direction.2.8.1 Town and Country Planning Ordinance of 1947Some of the relevant stipulations from the Town and Country PlanningOrdinance are as follows:(a) All physical developments must conform to the broad land use zones defmedin the Ordinance. These include: residential, industrial, recreational,41educational, civic, cultural, commercial, transportation and greenerydevelopments.(b) Developers are required to obtain development permits before proceedingwith construction activities;(c) The minimum size for residential piots were:• A - 2500 square feet (232 square meters) in the Central Business Districtand inner city areas of Accra.• B - 3600 square feet (335 square meters) in other areas within thegeographical boundaries of Accra.• C - 4800 square feet (446 square meters) in the sub-urban and peripheralvillages of Accra.(d) Type of Construction MaterialsBuilding activities in areas A and B must be undertaken with permanentmaterials, defined mainly as cement or sandcrete blocks and kiln dried bricks.Areas in C and the peripheral villages within the metropolitan area could bebuilt with mud bricks or mud and wattle.(e) The maximum built up area of any plot should not exceed 60 per cent, theextra 40 per cent is intended for greenery.(f) Minimum room size and window openings:• Bedrooms: 12 feet by 10 feet,• Windows: 4 windows of 3 feet by 4 feet per bedroom or kitchen.42(g) Provision of kitchen, bathroom and toilet in each house.(h) Prohibition of economic, industrial and any other activities which mayimpair or disturb the comfort and convenience of residents in residential areas 2(i) A medical certificate, satisfying that a completed building is fit for habitationmust be obtained before occupation.(i) Posting or displaying of planning schemes in such places within the planningarea as the Minister directs. This is to give a chance for public inspection ofthe scheme so that any necessary representations or objections, can be raised.Kasanga (1991) observed that most of the planning schemes such as thosementioned above are obsolete, some have been in force for 20 years or morewithout having been revised. The lengthy and protracted procedure towards theissuance of a building permit could be a daunting task for a prospectivedeveloper who wants to procure all development permits prior to thecommencement of development. From a random selection of 20 applicationsfor building permission at the City Engineers Department in Accra, Kasanga(1991) reported that the fastest took 6 months. The longest took 8 years and 3months. A majority of the rest took about 2 years to process.The issue becomes even more obscured when most of the customary landowners are not represented in the planning committee and they are unaware ofthe provisions of formal planning. Consequently in spite of the existence of the2This regulation is not expressly stated in the Planning Ordianance. It is based on the interpretation of sections 2(1), 4(1), and5(lb) of the Ordianance.43law, development control is helplessly ineffective. The loss of touch of thedevelopment control with the realities being faced by the majority of the city’sresidents is creating many environmental hazards. These include:• Poor or no infrastructure and services for most unauthorized developments,• The conversion of open spaces, road reservations, sanitary sites etc. intoother uses,• Severe drainage and waste management problems,• Traffic jam and lack of road access for most developments.An introduction of a more realistic and enforceable regulation could prevent ormitigate some of the environmental hazards mentioned above.The above analysis is not to suggest that building codes are basically bad.They do have their uses but only if they are based on existing situations andreflect current realities. The need for building codes and regulations in mostThird World countries is inevitable. The types of shelter built by various socialgroups are mostly inadequate. No consideration is given to structural stability,fire hazard, health or sanitation - the primary concern of building codes. Whatis needed are codes and regulations which deal with the above risks, whileremaining relevant to the communities in which they apply.The codes should be rooted in the needs and preferences of a particular society.Each society, each culture has its own parameters within which such standardscould be developed. Building codes for example should be intimately linked tolocal climatic conditions, availability of local building materials, the availabilityof building skills, and the likelihood of hazards such as earthquakes or floods.They should also be linked to cultural needs and preferences which are alsoparticular to each society. To put up one uniform standard to which all groups44of people irrespective of income, culture, needs and preferences should conformcould be counter productive and inhibit the survival strategies of the majority ofthe population. To be effective, building standards and codes must be related tolocal reality. If set too high or too much at odds with local preferences, theycannot promote ‘better practice’ which should be the objective. If they cannotbe implemented, they lose meaning. If they contradict deeply held socialbeliefs, they will create conflict.The problem with the operative building codes in Accra is that, they aretypically old and outmoded. Many aspects of the codes or norms date backfrom colonial regulations which were first instituted to ensure that houses builtfor expatriate staff were to standards comparable to those of their country oforigin. In a number of cases, these codes have been revised and altered inEngland in the light of new knowledge and a better appreciation of humanbiological and psychological needs, whilst the older versions have been retainedand hallowed by official routine in Ghana and other former colonial territories(McAuslan, 1975).As a result many of the building codes being applied in most Third Worldcountries are irrelevant to all but upper-income residential areas, moderncommercial structures and government complexes. They cannot be used for thevast majority of the people, particularly the urban poor who live in unplanneddevelopments proceeding without official control or direction (Kanyeihamba andMcAuslan, 1978). Gilbert’s (1990) argument that, they are useful in rationingservices cannot be maintained with the growing illegal settlements. Somethingmust be done to include such illegal settlements which are becoming the normrather than the exception in the provision of services. Since Ghana obtained45political independence in 1957, the housing teclmocrats and policy makers haveused these codes to dominate the housing decision process in the city and thecountry at large. A review of the operative building codes to reflect therealities facing the city’s residents, particularly the urban poor in their housingdevelopment process may be a step in the right direction. On the above basis,the official building codes in Ghana and their influence on access to housing bythe urban poor could be examined from the following perspectives.2.8.2 Irrelevance to local cultureThe official building codes which specify building standards in Ghana which areborrowed from the British colonial administration since 1947, are irrelevant tothe local culture of the urban poor. Hall (1966: 165), agreed with the inevitablerole of culture in housing design and use, when he observed that “People raisedin different cultures, inhabit different sensory worlds.” Every country has itsown culture, and the cultural influence on living patterns and shelter cannot beoveremphasized.However, the Western educated elites who implement these borrowed buildingcodes have developed a technical perception of what ‘ought’ to be, rather than arealization of what ‘has’ to be. Their tunnel vision of technology plays asignificant role in standards setting in Ghana. Modern is taken to mean‘Western’, and modern housing means ‘Western housing.’ What is indigenousis often considered obsolete and substandard. This leads to many inappropriatedesign and structures that are unsuitable for local culture and living patterns.A case in point is the resettlement of the displaced victims of the Volta RiverProject. Although outwardly the resettlement houses appear to be superior to the46traditional mud and thatch dwellings, in some respects they have been found tobe inferior. A comparison of the thermal characteristics of the two types ofhouses indicated that, the traditional house possessed a greater thermal inertia.That is the mud and thatch houses tended to be cooler than the ambienttemperature during the day and warmer than ambient during the night.Complaints were often expressed to the investigation teams of physicaldiscomfort because of the cold at night and extreme heat during the day in theresettlement houses (Chambers, 1970: 174). This confirms Peil’s (1976)observation that in the tropical countries it is even more convenient to stay outdoors during some months of the year owing to the high temperatures. Thisdiscomfort in ‘modern standard houses,’ what Turner (1976) calls “oppressivehousing” may be a major contributor to a number of settlers moving out of theresettlement towns.A review of the literature indicated that, this phenomenon is not only applicablein Ghana, but to other developing countries that were also colonized. Forexample, a survey of the activities of the Housing Development Board inSingapore revealed that, in the new residential neighborhoods which were builtin western style, nearly 55 per cent of the households never went to thecommunity centers which were provided, and only 18 per cent of the childrenused the play grounds. Nearly 50 per cent of the households living inmultistory apartments were dissatisfied with their high- rise buildings because offrequent failures of the elevators, whereas those living in the lower floors weretroubled by rubbish thrown from upper floors (Yeh, 1975). Similarly, it hasbeen noted that in many of the slum-clearance schemes in Madras, people usethe toilets as a place to keep their agricultural implements and fishing nets,because no other space was provided for this purpose. Moreover, they did not47relish the idea of toilet opening into a living room (Mabogunje, et, a!., 1978).These varieties of forms and orientation probably reflect traditionalunderstanding of the significance of local climate, topography, social structureand the pattern of daily social contacts, in the convenient design and use ofdwelling space.In Ghana, and most countries of tropical Africa, living and sleeping are oftenoutdoors at least for part of the year. Rooms serving specialized and exclusiveuses are also not often found in the culture of the urban poor. A kitchen isoften more than a place for cooking; it is also where children play, and are fedand reared. But these considerations did not enter the building standard settingprocedure used in Ghana’s building code. According to the intention of thebuilding code, a house is divided into bedrooms, living room and kitchen basedon the single-purpose Western model. This practice is anathema to the culturalneeds and circumstances of the urban poor, who see the law as a tool which thewealthy and well connected can use to exploit them (McAuslan, 1987).All nations are characterized by a number of values, life-styles, customs,traditions and institutions,- in other words by their culture or cultures. Theseare specific and unique to themselves, because most of them are based onexperiences accumulated and refmed over long periods. People’s culture hasalways been reflected in the houses, neighborhood and settlements that theydevelop for themselves. One can learn much about a culture and its economyfrom its house designs, materials used and the ways the settlements are planned(Oliver, 1987). But most Third World governments have long ignored bothhistory and culture as essential inputs into their ‘planning for development.’They cannot see in the many illegal settlements the seed of what could develop48as a more accurate and appropriate reflection of the nation’s culture. Theycannot grasp that the house designs, the materials used and the plans for theseillegal settlements are more realistic and often more appropriate than their ownunfulfilled plans for “low cost housing.”2.8.3 Indifference to local resource materialsIn his travels in the interior of West Africa in the mid-l9th century, the Germangeographer, Heinrich Barth, noted that local mud, mud and grasses, or grassesalone, were used to construct two-story residential houses of great elegance, andsome most impressive public buildings such as mosques in Djenne, Timbuktuand Zaire (Barth, cited in Mabogunje, et, al., 1978). In a few instances,especially in the historic towns of the East African coast, local stone has beenused in the construction of dwellings particularly for the rich. Similarly, inIndia emphasis on local material is noticeable. In the state of Jammu andKashmir the main traditional materials are wooden logs; in North Karnatakathey are largely stone slabs. Ironically to date, Ghana’s building codes specifythe use of cement blocks in housing construction. If this is violated, a buildingpermit will not be issued. Without a building permit the extension ofinfrastructure to the housing unit is denied and it becomes an illegal orunauthorized dwelling unit. This insistence on such construction material ispurely influenced by Western idea of housing.Similar impositions of foreign construction materials have been noted in Uganda(East Africa). In rejecting the use of local materials for the new Mulagohospital in Kampala, the expatriate adviser recommended the adoption of theUnited Kingdom building regulations. He argued that: “If the hospital is to49cater for all people it has to be up to the standards at present accepted in theUnited Kingdom” (Phillips, cited in Kanyeihamba, 1978).To most Europeans and North Americans, a bamboo house may be inferior toone built with bricks; one of wood inferior to cement. But in a hot climate likeGhana, bamboo and wood are entirely adequate materials, though they may bepoor in more temperate Latin American cities like La Paz or Buenos Aires. Toinsist on the use of cement blocks, a relatively expensive and inappropriatematerial in a hot tropical country like Ghana is therefore unrealistic. In such anenvironment the cooling effect of mud and wood- the major building materialsused by the urban poor in Accra, may be more appropriate.As noted earlier, the design of traditional compound houses mostly occupied bythe urban poor in Accra, is also closely related to the local climatic conditions.Over the centuries, traditional compound houses have evolved as effectivesolution to the problems of the local climate. On the contrary the brick,concrete and glass houses stipulated by the operative building codes havebecome the symbols of ‘progressive’ architecture. The impact has been thedisregard of traditional climatically appropriate architecture by the housingtechnocrats and policy makers. Most of these concrete buildings have becomeheat traps in the city, sacrificing comfort for status. In spite of climatic or eveneconomic inappropriateness, such structures have come to symbolize ‘standardhousing,’ which the urban poor cannot afford. The unanswered question inGhana is, why have official standards in building codes remained insensitive tolocal conditions, despite the fact that the concept of ‘appropriate technology’and the use of local building materials have been explored with good results bythe University of Science and Technology at Kumasi?50Housing policy makers in Ghana, could learn from adaptive houses in someparts of India. For example 89 per cent of the houses in Assam (India) aremade of leaves, bamboo and reeds to suit the monsoons and seasonal rainswhich have shaped the resource availability of the construction cycle (Aroma,1990).2.8.4 Lack of relation to local economyTo be effective and useful, the provision of housing should be within thecapability of the nations and the people it is meant to serve. Most of the urbanpoor who constitute the bulk of Acera’ s population live at subsistence level.They cannot afford the housing available on the open market. It is also beyondthe capacity of the Government to provide “standard housing” for the majorityof people. In such a situation, an alternative policy would be to ensure that allthose who have the capacity to create and maintain dwellings with minimumhelp from governments, should be encouraged to do so.The factors mentioned above may call for a drastic change in policies and eventhe abandonment of some minimum standards. Instead a selective enforcementof ceiling standards may be called for. Government services should berestricted to the provision of certain essential services, and maintenance ofenvironmental sanitation; which the people by their individual efforts cannotprovide. The policy in such a situation should be to help people to helpthemselves and not to kill local initiative by the imposition of rigid buildingstandards as specified in Ghana’s building codes.512.8.5 Difficulty of EnforcementThe existing system of rigid and static building standards in Ghana, has anothermajor handicap. They are not easily enforceable, except in cases of upper andupper-middle income group housing and houses built for publicity purposes.Merrill (1988) reported that, the standard house stipulated by Ghana’s buildingcode can only be afforded by the top 5 per cent of Accra’s population.Similarly in Jakarta-Indonesia, Devas (1983) observed that only 17-20 per centof all new construction could afford the required building permit. In the case ofDelhi-India only 2 per cent constituting the few elites could afford the standardhousing (Shrivastav, 1982). In Nairobi-Kenya, Uche has observed that:“The City Council of Nairobi, which at the relevant time wasmade up mainly of Europeans, exercised planning controlthrough building by-laws of 1948, which imported wholesaleEnglish ideas of town planning, including the high standardsrequired for residential and other buildings. The logical effect ofthe operation of the by-law was that no African3 could afford tomeet the high standards required for buildings to obtain planningpermission” (Uche cited in Kanyeihamba, 1980: 249).Since most of the codes are in practice meant for those who have enough fundsto invest, they are alien to the socio-economic realities of the urban poor.Perhaps in theory the high standards specified in the codes are correct. But aspracticed in most Third World cities, standards have become so complex andrigid and so beyond any possibility of implementation, both in relation to localcircumstances, and the possibilities open to the poorer groups, that they aretransgressed daily. Laquian (1983) noted that, the imposition of outmodedbuilding codes in most developing countries had culminated in their open3The Africans constituted the poorer class of the communties.52violation by about 40 per cent of the people, i.e., by those people living inmake shift dwellings.In presenting a general framework for the consideration of building codes andregulations in Third world countries, Svenson (1981) summarized theinappropriateness of most of Third World building codes when he pointed outthat:“The formulation of building standards as the basis for codes andregulations, applied to only a small fraction of the population,exacerbated social and economic differences, were inconsistentwith the needs of the poor, required unavailable skills andmaterials, unfairly penalized those who could not comply...”(quoted in United Nations publication No. CHS/R181-3/S, 1981:15).This description typifies the enforcement of building codes in Accra, Ghana.2.9.0 ACCESS TO SERVICESThe denial of access to the city’s services like water, electricity and sanitationhas been the major penalty for non compliance with the operative buildingcodes. Policy makers and housing technocrats in their attempt to maintain thepre-independence status quo (through benign neglect or inaction) hide behindthe smoke screen of these outmoded building codes to deny the urban poor suchbasic infrastructure and services.2.9.1 Patron-Client Relationship and ServicesThough the researcher’s unstructured interviews with City Officials in Accraindicated non-compliance with the building codes as the basis for denial ofservices to the urban poor, there may be other political reasons which reinforcethe benign neglect of the slum communities.53The urban poor communities are mostly inhabited by those in the lower level ofinformal activities like street hawking, shoe repairs and petty trading. Theseare mostly passive, apathetic and inarticulate. They seldom become organizedfor promoting and defending their interest (Ewusi, 1971). This confirmsJawaharhal Nehru’s (cited in Myrdal, 1976:62) observation that “The reallypoor never strike. They have not the means of power to demonstrate”. In mostdeveloping countries when references are made to ‘public opinion,’ what itreally means is mostly the opinion of the articulate and elite or the upper class.The power struggle has mainly remained one between groups in the upper class,middle class workers and in some countries students (Myrdal, 1976).In Ghana, changes of governments have never occurred in response to pressurefrom the poor masses, having become politically aware of their interest andorganized for collective action. According to Shillington (1972), the changes ingovernment that have taken place in Ghana since political independence in1957, have been necessitated by military officers, senior public officials, middleclass unionized workers and University students. The consequential effect isthat politicians tend to favor the powerful elite and in some instances middleclass workers who are very organized and articulate enough to effect changes.The building codes are therefore used to selectively provide the services forsuch elite and middle class workers. The less influential urban poor areneglected under the pretext that, services cannot be extended to their settlementsbecause their buildings contravene the municipal building codes.542.9.2 Socioeconomic Background and ServicesSociologist and town planners have seldom questioned- because the answerseems obvious- why some urban residents in a developing country like Ghanalive in low density areas with such modern amenities like pipe water,electricity, access to roads, drainage and sanitation like Labone (Accra); whilstothers live in incredibly crowded and unsanitary areas like Nima (Accra).Poverty or the economic factor has usually been given as the explanation for thespatial stratification that is so apparent in such a city. Without denying that thiseconomic explanation contains some truth, there are other social and culturalfactors which have worsened the disparity and inequalities in the distribution ofservices in the city.Quarcoo, et, al., (1967) observed that most of the residents of the slums inAccra are migrants from the northern part of Ghana, which has been describedas the most impoverished part of the country. Norton (1988), noted thatsuccessive colonial administrators treated the North of the country largely as areservoir to provide labor for gold mining and cocoa farming in the South. Theregion was therefore neglected with relatively poor provision of infrastructureand education. Similarly, the railway system in the country was not extendedinto the northern regions because of the relative absence of commercialexploitative crops and minerals. The North has generally remained poor interms of income, infrastructure, education and medical services; even after postcolonial governments made some efforts to address this disparity. Using theGhana Living Standards Survey (GLSS), Ewusi (1976) indicated that most ofthe Ghanaian population at that time which had incomes below the poverty lineof US$100.00 per annum was living in the North.55Most of the slum dwellers having migrated from the northern parts of Ghana,may consider themselves as relatively better-off than their counterparts in therural north where the infrastructure and services do not exist. The tendency tobe content in the city environment, coupled with their isolation from localpolitics may be other plausible reasons for the city’s benign neglect of the slumcommunities in terms of services and infrastructure activities.Pogucki (1971), Kanyeihamba (1980) and others who have described the postindependence scene, have argued that, though there may be other political,social, economic and cultural reasons for the growth of slums in mostdeveloping countries; the by-product of the perpetuation of high colonialbuilding standards is the proliferation of shanty towns and slums. Ghosh (1984)noted that as much as 53 per cent of Accra’s housing stock was built contrary tothe country’s building codes and regulations.Unfortunately, the financial resources available have proved extremelyinadequate to meet the requirements of western-oriented type of housingdevelopment. The need to tailoring the building codes to meet the needs of theordinary people particularly the urban poor, should be examined. This situationis not only true of Ghana, but also most of the urban poor communities inNigeria. In Nigeria, infrastructure and services (water, electricity, healthfacilities, sewers and roads), appear to be the most critical or most pressingneed facing the new peripheral settlements of the city which have emerged in anunplanned manner. Because they are officially illegal, they are denied thenecessary infrastructure amenities (Adepoju, 1990).56210.0 SummaryThis chapter has illustrated that building codes and housing standards do havetheir uses but only if they are based on existing situations and reflect currentrealities. The problem with the operative building codes in Accra-Ghana is thatthey are typically old and outmoded. Many aspects of the codes or norms donot reflect the local and cultural circumstances of the residents, particularly theurban poor. Since standards are means of helping to ensure a safe and happylife within human settlements, they must be realistic enough to allow the peoplewho live in them to achieve their goals. It has thus become apparent that thecurrent building codes and enabling legislation call for a redefinition andreclassification.Two questions are therefore pertinent. The first is “Who are the standardsfor?” The second is “Who develops and sets the standards?” The answer to thefirst question is usually that, standards are set for all sectors of the community.But to date they have benefited only a few. The vast majority of the urban poorin Ghana live below the poverty line. The current building standards are eitherindifferent to their needs and abilities, or affect them negatively. The situationin Accra-Ghana is almost as if the poor subsidize the rich, especially in the useof services, utilities and housing. This is because considerable investment bypublic institutions, direct as well as indirect, goes into buildings and servicesfor the upper and upper middle income groups. These higher income groupshave the funds to build according to municipal building codes and hence areauthorized to receive the infrastructure and public utility services. From thisperspective, the urban poor who cannot build according to the municipal codesare interpreted to be living outside the law. The application of the law under57these circumstances can become unequal and arbitrary (Gilbert, 1990). Thusthe building standards fail to provide protection for the urban poor as a whole,and instead serves the need of only particular classes within the society.The answer to the second question should be that standards must evolve frompeople’s needs, but at present they are often a middle class technocraticperception of what these needs are. The voice and needs of the urban poor arenot reflected in building standards setting. Solutions are found for problems asthe planners and housing technocrats perceive them, rather than for theproblems that the urban poor really face. For the urban poor who cannot availthemselves of governmental assistance in the provision of their accommodation;the set of building standards operated by the municipalities may constitute themost important obstacle to their settled existence in the city to which they havemigrated. The municipalities, providing no help to the urban poor in theirsearch for shelter, nevertheless hide behind the smoke screen of the buildingcodes to destroy or ignore as substandard, the modest and admittedlyunattractive efforts of the urban poor to construct shelter for themselves. Thisidea of standard housing based on the operative building codes has so muchengulfed most housing decision processes that, various governmental housingprograms aimed at helping the urban poor, such as Rent Control, PublicHousing and Resettlement Schemes have been counter productive (Chambers,1970; World Bank, 1984; Tipple et. al., 1986; Asiama, 1990; HUDA, 1990;Willis et, al., 1990). A possible alternative would be the use of performancecode, which prescribes the objective to be accomplished in housingdevelopment, and allows broad leeway to the designers and builders in selectingthe materials and methods that would achieve the required result.58The next chapter examines the study communities in terms of their basis ofselection, location and settlement patterns, historical development, housingtypology and tenure. These parameters may be of assistance towards thereformulation of more realistic building codes to reflect the circumstances of theurban poor.59CHAPTER THREE - THE STUDY COMMUNITIES3.1.0 Basis for Community SelectionIn 1989, the Town Planning Department of Acera identified three communitiesas having the largest concentration of unauthorized houses in the city: Nima,Madina and Ashiaman. It was observed that 42 per cent of houses in Nimawere substandard. The comparative rates for Madina and Ashiaman were 33per cent and 26 per cent respectively. The researcher therefore decided to studythese communities more intensively.The three settlements attracted a majority of the urban poor migrants in the city.Sandbrook and Am (1977) reported in their survey of urban poor in Accra that,26 per cent of Nima residents, 32 per cent of Madina residents and 43 per centof Ashiaman residents were attracted to the communities owing to theavailability of accommodation there. This is in line with the description ofthese three communities as the place of refuge for the poor. Ironically, they actas the major source of cheap accommodation for the urban poor who cannotafford the “standard” houses in other part of the city.3.2.0 Location and Settlement PatternAccra is built on the concentric circle urban planning pattern. The city centeroffers a wide range of informal employment opportunities (e.g., street hawking,repair work, food sales, personal services, etc.) for low income people. It isnot surprising, therefore, that many urban poor live in Nima (located about 2kilometers from the Central Business District). Aside from Nima, however,there are other low income areas in Accra that also attract the poor. These60include Madina and Ashiaman which are located on the periphery at about 14kilometers and 18 kilometers respectively from the Central Business District(see figure below).LOCATION OF STUDY COMMUNITIES IN ACCRHIAMA3.3.0 Historical Development of the SettlementsThe historical development of the settlements tells a lot about the circumstancesleading to their formation, as well as the actions of technocrats and policymakers which have been influenced by years of persistent stigmatization of thesecommunities as slums and communities of “law breakers.” In stressing theimportance of the rule of law most urban administrators and politicians regardslum dwellers as those living beyond the pale. The significance of this viewfrom a juridical standpoint is that once specific groups of people in the societyFIG. 461are interpreted to be living outside the law, the application of the law thusbecomes unequal and arbitrary (Gilbert, 1990).3.3.1 Nima (inner city settlement)A Hausa (tribe of northern Ghana) cattle dealer is reported to have establishedNima as a “zongo” (stranger’s quarters) in 1930, after he had obtainedpermission from the Ga customary owners of the land to settle there. At thattime Nima was an area well outside Accra’ s municipal boundaries. The citysubsequently took no responsibility to provide services to Nima or to enforcebuilding codes and standards there until 1951 when it expanded its boundariesto encompass the settlement (Sandbrook and Am, 1977:9).Nima is thus a prime example of uncontrolled urban settlement, wherehaphazardly demarcated plots were entirely covered with structures (in order tomaximize rental income). Litigation over land ownership and boundaries werewidespread and interminable. After 1951, the city planners and authoritiesquickly concluded that Nima was both uncontrollable and irredeemable: it hasbeen slated for extensive slum clearance since the country obtainedindependence in 1957.This multi-ethnic location has been characterized, besides overcrowding, by:abysmal sanitation (open and dirty ‘drains’, uncollected refuse heaps, a paucityof public toilets and bathrooms, and irregular servicing of toilets); an inadequatepublic water supply; the limited availability or uses of electricity; and a highcrime rate, especially theft. Slum clearance was partially carried out in 1960 tomake room for public buildings and other commercial ventures. A substantialportion of the settlement remained and has grown from its 1970 population of6252,000 to a present day estimate of over 150,000 inhabitants (Sandbrook andAm, 1977; HUDA, 1990).3.3.2 Madina (peripheral settlement)The period immediately after Ghana s political independence saw franticdevelopments in Accra. Of particular interest were the constructions of theNima Highway, Nima Redevelopment Project and Kanda Estates. Theseprojects displaced many inhabitants of the inner city slum settlement (Nima)who were mainly migrants from the northern part of Ghana (Quarcoo, et, al.,1967). At this time the Government had also begun plans to construct a TradeFair Site to the East of Accra as a permanent site for international trade fairs.This also necessitated the resettlement of displaced inhabitants. TheGovernment therefore negotiated with the chief of Labadi (a suburb of Accra)for the release of land for the resettlement of the displaced inhabitants of Nimaand the Trade Fair Site. Madina, located about 14 kilometers from Accra wasselected for this purpose.A Planning Committee4 was set up by the Government to plan the newtownship. Among other recommendations, the committee proposed a townshipof about 64 hectares and 3300 people. The total land area was zoned into 31hectares for housing, 31 hectares for open spaces and services and 2 hectaresfor light industries. The Government , however did not implement theplanning scheme for the area. Neither were services provided. Uncontrolleddevelopment started springing up and Madina became one of the areas in thecity where the cheapest accommodations could be available.4The Trevallion Committee of 195963Quarcoo, et, al., (1967) estimated Madina’ s population in 1967 atapproximately 2000. By 1970 (within a period of three years), the populationof Madina had more than tripled to 7,480 inhabitants and in 1990 its populationwas estimated at 63,000 (Government of Ghana Census, 1970; HUDA, 1990).When the current population is compared to the target of 3300, theovercrowding and insanitary conditions in an area where services are primafacie illegal can not be over emphasized.3.3.3 Ashiaman (peripheral settlement)Ashiaman is about one square mile in area and lies about 18 kilometers east ofAccra. It was originally a small farming village. With the opening of anindustrial complex at Tema (now part of Accra) in 1964, migrants in search ofnew jobs were attracted to Ashiaman by the availability of relatively cheapaccommodation (Sandbrook and Am, 1977). It therefore experienced aremarkable rate of growth. In 1960, Ashiaman was a village of 2,624, but in1970 the census recorded a population of 22, 549. In 1990 the population wasestimated at 94,000 inhabitants (HUDA, 1990).To meet the demand for housing, aspiring landlords built dwellings in ahaphazard manner. The stigma attached to the settlement as ‘unauthorized’ bythe municipality has persistently denied Ashiaman basic services. Ashiaman hastherefore suffered from abysmal sanitation, inadequate public water supply, thelimited use of electricity, poor roads and drainage, and high crime rate(Djanmah, 1974).The historical background of the settlements connotes their haphazard nature, aswell as major source of accommodation for the urban poor. These inadequate64housing conditions are being perpetuated by the use of the building codes andregulations as tools to deny the communities services. As a guide towards thereformulation of more realistic building codes, it may be necessary to examinethe housing typology and tenure in the city.3.4.0 TYPES OF HOUSESTable 2. Type of Houses in Accra (in units)TYPES PERCENTAGESTraditional Compound (single storey) 51.7Multi Storey Tenement 10.4Single Family Bungalow (detached) 22.4Single Family House (semi-detached) 11.2Block of Flats (Apartments) 1.2Others 2.5Total 100Source: Extracted from HUDA, 1990 Vol.1: 45As indicated in Table 2, five major house types can be identified in the city.These house types are discussed below, with pictures and illustrations providedin Fig. Single-storey Traditional Compound HouseThis type of housing unit is regarded as traditional because it is the Ghanaianvernacular domestic architecture and is found in almost all parts of the country,both urban and rural. In Kumasi -the second largest city in the country, about50 per cent of the population live in this type of houses (Malpezzi, et, al.,1990).65A typical traditional compound house comes in a variety of forms but its basicstructural composition shows a number of rooms (usually 10 to 15), which aregrouped around a square open courtyard. The compound usually grows byaccretion (Sutherland, 1981). The fourth side of the compound contains thebathroom, kitchen and toilet. Most of these compound houses were built withrammed laterite known as “swish,” (also locally called “atakpame” after a townin Togo where the first masons originated). On the average the completedcompound house accommodates some eight households in 13 rooms on a plotarea of approximately 1000 square meters (see Fig. 3.1(a) in Appendix). Mostof the rooms are rented out, the owner and other resident households sharingbetween them whatever services are provided.Entry to all rooms is typically through the open quadrangle that provides asemi-private and climatically sensitive setting for most daytime activities.Sociologists and urban anthropologists like Schildkrout (1975), Senjek (1982)and Clark (1984), document the courtyard as the spatial arena in which socialinteraction and inter-household co-operation are typically nurtured. Forexample, since all the rooms open into a centrally located courtyard, theoccupants share and interact in this common space. Also the occupantsnormally share the use of all the available facilities such as toilets, bathroom,and kitchen. On the whole, the poor and the more traditionally minded tend tobe associated with communal lifestyles, and seem to prefer living in multinuclear traditional compound houses (Hill, 1966).Table 2 shows that more than half (51.7 per cent) of the total number of housessurveyed for this study are of this type. Merrill (1988) and Korboe (1992)66reported that, most of the Ghanaian urban poor occupy single storey traditionalcompound houses. Unfortunately the traditional compound houses, which madeup 51.7 per cent of the housing stock do not have the legal access to the city’sinfrastructure and services because of their non-compliance with the buildingcodes. With the exception of the indigenous communities whose proximity tothe Central Business District has compelled the city authorities to partiallyinclude them in the city’s service system, most of the new settlements mostlyoccupied by the urban poor have little or no access to these services.3.4.2 Multi-Storey TenementThis type of housing unit is similar in its structural and functional organizationto the single-storey traditional compound house but it differs in that thearrangement of the rooms around the open courtyard is carried up to two orthree levels. Access to the upper floors is gained by means of wooden orconcrete staircase, usually located within the courtyard (see Fig. 3.2 (b) inAppendix). In the indigenous sections of Accra, where some of these housetypes are found, they are the typical family houses which were built by affluentfamilies in the early part of the century. The data show that multi-storeytenement houses are not as prevalent as the single-storey traditional compoundhouses. Only 10.4 per cent of the sample houses were of this type.3.4.3 Single-Family BungalowThis type of housing unit has been developed by both the government andindividuals. The house in principle is designed or built to be occupied by asingle household. The houses are regarded as bungalows, because they standdetached on individual plots of varying sizes. The dwelling unit is organizedinto specific rooms for receiving visitors and relaxation (known as the living67room), eating, carrying out other indoor family activities (known as the diningarea), cooking (kitchen), ablutions (bathroom and toilet) and sleeping(bedrooms). In addition to these basic rooms, one finds additional spaces suchas garages, store rooms, terraces, etc., depending on the level of affluence ofthe occupying household. Usually, the house faces outwards onto a privategarden or forecourt and may have a backyard. Some of these houses have twostoreys and some have annexes which are described as out-houses. Theseannexes invariably act as dwelling units for other people who may or may notbe related to the family in the main building (see Fig. 3 (d) in Appendix).These houses are contractor-built, often with cement blocks or kiln dried bricksand comply with the stipulated building standards in the city. They thereforehave legal connection to the city’s electricity, water and sanitation systems.They constituted about 22 per cent of the sampled houses. They were oftenowned or occupied by senior civil servants, rich businessmen and Europeans.Densities of one to two houses per hectare were typical.3.4.4 Semi-Detached HouseThis house type is predominantly found in areas where there are governmentbuilt estates. The design is basically two houses put together with a commonpartition wall. Similar to the bungalow type, the dwelling units are selfcontained, although of limited size, ranging between one to two bedrooms (seeFig. 3.2 (c) in Appendix). In some of the old sections of the estates atKaneshie, Dansoman and Osu, these small- size self contained units have beenextended into three to four bedrooms. Being government built units theycomply with the stipulated building standards and have legal access to the city’s68infrastructure and services. As Table 2 shows, semi-detached houses do notconstitute a very significant proportion of the sampled houses (11 per cent).3.4.5 Block of FlatsThis form of dwelling unit is basically associated with government estates andother corporate housing facilities. It provides self-contained dwelling units ofdifferent sizes for single households placed on multi-levels without any definedprivate courtyard space. Balconies are provided for outdoor activities. In somecases, lockable garages and store rooms are provided on the ground floor forthe occupying households (see Fig. 3 (e) in Appendix). The data show thatBlocks of Flats are not common in the study area. The structures constituteabout 2 per cent of all the houses surveyed.Due to the architectural arrangements of this type of accommodation, thestructural engineering and services requirements are of a very high standard andtherefore attract rather high cost and rents. They are mostly owned or occupiedby rich businessmen and top civil servants.3.5.0 HOUSING TENURETable 3. Housing Tenure5TENURE PERCENTAGEOwner-Occupiers 24.5Tenants 47.6Rent Free Tenants 26.3Sub- Tenant 1.6Total 100Source: Extracted from HUDA, 1990 Vol.1: 475The owner-occupiers are concentrated in bungalows and semi-detached houses, whilst the tenants and rent free tenants areconcentrated in the traditional compound houses.69There are three major types of tenure categories in Accra: house owners,renters and occupants who are neither owners nor rent paying tenants. Table3 tabulates data on sampled housing tenure in Accra. It indicates that about 25per cent of all respondents were owner-occupiers. It can also be observed thatthe sampled houses indicate a high rental population (close to 74 per cent wererenters of which 47.6 per cent and 26.3 per cent were rent paying and non-rentpaying tenants respectively).3.5.1 OwnersIn the Ghanaian context home ownership is a source of social prestige or statusthat most people irrespective of their background want to achieve. The numberof house owners indicated in Table 3 is comprised mostly of indigenous peoplefrom the Accra Metropolitan Area, foreign nationals and migrants who aretied to the city owing to their dependence on wage employment.3.5.2 RentersAs shown in Table 3, Aecra has a high percentage of renters. This high rentalpopulation is not only common to Accra, but in Kumasi and other West Africancities like Lagos, Abidjan, Freetown and Dakar where more than 70 per cent offamilies rent rooms (Tipple, 1987; Achumne Obi, 1977). Data from varioussources suggest that many West African’intention of returning to theirhometowns is often a deterrent to acquiring a house in the city.Pfeffermami’ s (1968:45) interviews with industrial workers in Dakar-Senegalshowed that 75 per cent of those born in villages intended to go home whenthey retire. Caldwell (1969:186) reports that 92 per cent of migrant households70interviewed in Ghana’s three largest cities- Accra, Kumasi and Takoradi,considered their stay in the city as temporary. Thus in Ghana, no matter howlong a migrant remained in the city, he/she very seldom considers it as home,with the exception of Kumasi (an ethnic capital which many migrants identify astheir hometown). According to Peil (1972), the proportion of Nigerian citymigrants intending to return home is generally even higher than amongGhanaian migrants.Flexibility of location is also considered as one of the important reasons whyWest Africans are less permanent urbanites than people from other developingregions. The flourishing “informal sector” of self employment in West Africancities encourages aspirations for independence and movement into occupationswhich can readily be transferred from one place to another. The migranttherefore is less tied to a particular town, and there seems little point in going toconsiderable efforts and trouble to acquire a house in a city, when one maywant to move in a few years (Muench, 1972:42). Thus a majority of migrantswant cheap rented rooms rather than a house in the city; any money they save isspent on a house in their hometowns (United Nations, 1973:18).3.5.3 Rent-Free OccupantsAnother emerging characteristic feature of housing tenure in the city is rent-freehousing. Table 3 shows that about 26 per cent of the sampled houses have rent-free occupants. This trend is not only common to Accra but other Ghanaiancities as well. In Kumasi, Ghana’s second city, 25 per cent of all householdsoccupy rent-free accommodation and the population so housed continues to riseas a result of supply constraints (Korboe, 1992). The reason for this third typeof housing consumers may be due largely to cultural influences. For example,71according to the Asante culture (i.e., extended family system and matrilinealsystem of inheritance), a house owner cannot easily turn down requests byextended family members for a room in his/her house (Willis et, al., 1990).These non-rent paying occupants have some family relationship with the houseowners. While enjoying rent free accommodation, these occupants may nothave any special rights or privileges different from the rent-paying tenants in thehouse.3.6.0 SummaryThis chapter has given the housing typology and tenure in Accra which areimportant for policy implications towards the redefinition or reclassification ofappropriate building codes. It emphasized that the acceptable standard housesconstitute approximately 22 per cent of the surveyed houses in the city, found inthe bungalow house types and occupied by the higher income group. Thesewere built according to the building codes and have legal access to the cityinfrastructure and public utility services.Merrill(1988) and Korboe(1992) reported that most Ghanaian urban pooroccupy single storey traditional courtyard houses. In the case of Accra morethan half (51.7 per cent) of the total number of houses are of this type.Ironically most of these houses do not meet the stipulated building standards andcodes. They do not therefore have legal access to the city’s infrastructure andservices like water, electricity and sanitation systems.This chapter also indicated that, contrary to the notion of “home ownership”associated with most illegal settlements in Latin America, South East Asia, and72other African countries, most urban poor living in substandard houses in Ghanaare tenants and non-rent paying tenants (relatives of house owners).The next chapter examines the housing development processes, materials usedin construction and level of services provided in the three urban poorcommunities. These are related to the operating building codes.73CHAPTER FOUR - HOUSING DEVELOPMENT PROCESS4.1.0 Flexibility and IncrementalismThe fundamental distinguishing factors about the three communities describedabove are the varying degree of informality governing their housingdevelopment process. They are characterized by a high degree of flexibility andincrementalism in their housing construction. The flexibility allows the peopleto mobilize their resources, however meager they may be, to develop housingthat is affordable and supportive of the changing needs of the family. Thesetwo factors enhance the ability of users to be responsibly involved in makingdecisions affecting their housing. This is similar to a bottom-up approachwhich Turner (1976) calls ‘housing by people.”All the three communities developed originally without any layout plans. It istherefore common to find houses closely packed with little or no space inbetween them. Houses were also not aligned along predetermined grids.House building in all the three communities was entrusted to small scalebuilders or local artisans (locally called masons) rather than to incorporatedconstruction firms. A majority of the artisans are illiterate, or at best have onlyprimary school education. They learned their skills of building construction onthe job as apprentices. Their lack of education means that they have littleknowledge of the technology of building construction (such as the calculation ofstress in building, etc.). Nevertheless, they are very skilled and for the simplebuildings, such as single storey traditional compound houses where there is noneed for high level technology, they have been very proficient (Asiama, 1985).They are also widely employed in the residential building operations throughout74the country because of the competitive prices they offer. The study found thatthey constructed 95 per cent of the houses in the surveyed area. The rest of thehouses were usually constructed by the house owners, often assisted by familylabor.4.2.0 COMPLIANCE WITH BUILDING CODESIn order to have a clear picture of compliance with municipal building codes,which to a large extent dictate the urban poor’s access to services, data onbuilding materials, sanitation facilities and mixed land uses, for the threecommunities were analyzed.4.2.1 BUILDING MATERIALS4.2.11 Foundation and FloorsDespite the fact that the three communities studied were often deemed illegal,most of the houses conformed with some building code regulations. Thus, onlya small number (about 8 to 14 per cent) of the houses covered in the study areahad no “foundations” (compacted earthen floors were used). Over 90 per centhad concrete foundation as stipulated in the building codes.Table 4. Materials used for Foundation (in percentage)MATERIALS NIMA MADINA ASHIAMANConcrete 91.3 90.0 85.4No Foundation 8.7 10.0 14.6Total 100 100.0 100.0Source: Extracted from HUDA, 1990.75As shown in Table 4, the general use of concrete as foundation material is highin all the three communities. The reason for this may not necessarily meancompliance with the building code. Unstructured interviews by the researcherrevealed that most of the people did not even know the contents of the codes.They rather saw investment in their houses as a long term permanent nature. Aweak foundation could jeopardize incremental addition of rooms in the future.Thus, the concrete foundation were finished as cement screed floors.4.2.12 WallsThe municipal building codes stipulate kiln dried bricks or cement blocks as theconstructional material for walls in the affected areas of the city. The surveyundertaken by HUDA (1990), revealed that about 33.2 per cent of the houses inthe three communities did not comply with the code but instead used “landcrete”(a mixture of red soil with some cement as a bonding material) in theconstruction of the walls. The use of landcrete as a wall construction materialwas also found to be common in the medium class areas. As much as 51 percent of the surveyed houses by HUDA had their walls constructed of landcrete.The procedure adopted to outwit building inspectors is that the landcrete wallsare rendered internally and externally with cement mortar to conceal thelandcrete material.The expensive cost of constructing walls with cement blocks, as well as thethermal heat produced in a tropical area like Accra may be the compellingreasons for deliberate disregard of this section of the building code. Peil (1972)also confirmed that in such tropical areas it is even more comfortable to stayoutdoors during certain seasons of the year. The comparatively reduced room76temperature produced by the landcrete material may be the appropriateadaptation for those who cannot afford electric fans and air conditioners.4.2.13 WindowsWhilst the building code stipulates glass louver blades for windows, as much as91.3 per cent of windows found in the surveyed houses had wooden windows.The wooden windows called “Jalousie” were designed such that even when theyare closed, air circulation in the rooms would not be completely impaired. Incontrast, in the high class areas, where the residents can afford air conditionersand electric ceiling fans, glass louver blades predominate by as much as 89 percent.4. 2.14 RoofingThe building code specifies iron or aluminum sheets as the roofing material.About 66 per cent of the surveyed houses had corrugated aluminum or ironsheets as the roofing materials though most of them are from salvagedbuildings. The rest comprised a combination of thatched roofs, timber and felt.4.3.0 SANITATION FACILITIESThe building codes specify a house to be divided into bedrooms, living roomswith exclusive toilet, bathroom and kitchen. In the study communities howeverthe facilities like toilet, bathroom and kitchen were not often found. In housesthat had some temporary structures for such purposes, the facilities were oftenshared with other households.774.3.1 ToiletsIn the study communities 44 per cent of the houses surveyed had no toilets. Insuch cases, the residents had to use communal toilets in the neighborhood.Table 5. Availability of Toilets in the HousesToilet Number PercentNone 48 44.0Shared 54 49.0Exclusive 8 7.0Total 110 100As shown in Table 5, only 7 per cent of the surveyed houses had toilets for theexclusive use of the residents. The survey further revealed that about 70 percent of the toilets provided were removable pan type and not the water closetsflush type as demanded by the building codes. The facilities were mostlyshared with other households, contrary to the exclusive use suggested by thebuilding codes. The larger study by HUDA confirmed the predominance ofshared toilets, even in the middle class areas of the city, by as much as 49.4 percent of the sampled houses.4.3.2 BathroomsThe importance of bathrooms in the study area was manifested in their presencein 95.4 per cent of the houses. Out of this, 86 per cent were shared bathroomswith other households. Contrary to the specification of the building code that, abathrooom should be of permanent structure like cement block and designed tolink other parts of the building, the type of bathroom provided was usually asmall enclosure at the back of the houses. The remaining 4.6 per cent who had78no access to bathrooms in their houses used communal bathrooms constructed inthe neighborhoods.4.3.3 KitchensThe building code specifies that a kitchen should be designed as an integral partof the building, to be constructed in cement blocks or dried kiln bricks withminimum dimensions of 8 feet by 10 feet.In the study communities, however, the provision of kitchen facilities is anotheramenity which was not very common. This confirms Peil’s (1976) observationthat, in a tropical country like Ghana, it is more comfortable to stay out ofdoors during certain periods of the year. In such a hot climate, cooking in asmall enclosed area can create nuisance. It was found that in the study areacooking is usually done in open spaces in the courtyard to ensure properventilation and comfort.Second, most of the residents could not afford an electric or gas stove. Themajor source of energy is therefore firewood. The smoke and fumes associatedwith such energy use in a hot equatorial area like Accra (located 5 degreesNorth of the Equator), could worsen the heat problems and create further healthhazards when cooking is done in a small enclosed area called the kitchen.79Table 6. Availability of “Kitchen”6in the HousesKitchen Number PercentNone 74 67.0Shared 23 21.0Exclusive 13 12.0Total 110 100As shown in Table 6, 67 per cent of the surveyed house had no kitchen, whilst21 per cent that had “kitchen” (temporary structure used as a cooking area)shared it with other households. The remaining 12 per cent that had exclusiveuse of kitchens in the house design had converted them to bedrooms or retailoutlets.According to the larger study by HUDA, a comparative analysis of the middleclass areas revealed that about 32 per cent of the kitchens provided in thehouses were shared with other households. It was in the high income areas thatthe exclusive uses of kitchen facilities per household predominated by 78 percent. This may indicate that such as a standard could mainly be afforded by thehigh income group and not the middle and lower income groups.4.3.4 Facilities and Intensity of UseAside from the different levels of facilities provided, it was found important tolook at intensity of the use of the facilities. The number of persons who dependon a single toilet, bathroom and kitchen were assessed against the followingTown and Country Planning Standards as derived from the building codes:6Thjs is not a kitchen as specified in the building codes. It is a temporary structure used as cooking area.80• Toilet: 7 persons per single toilet.• Bathroom: 8 persons per single bathroom• Kitchen: 12 persons per single kitchenTable 7 presents data on the intensity of use of the above facilities in each ofthe study communities.Table 7. Persons Per Single Amenity in a House (Study Communities)Community Toilet Bathroom KitchenNima 65.3 31.7 104.5Madina 13.4 13.1 18.6Ashiaman 20.1 14.8 21.1STANDARD 7 8 12As shown in Table 7 , Nima has the highest average number of persons using asingle amenity. This is expected owing to Nima’s proximity to the CentralBusiness District which create congestion. Nima has an average of 65.3persons using a single toilet. The comparative rates for bathroom and kitchenare 31.7 persons and 104.5 persons respectively. Because of the distance fromthe major source of employment opportunity (The Central Business District),the peripheral communities like Madina and Ashiaman have relative lowerdensities and lower intensity of use of the amenities, though they are way abovethe planning standards in the city. The above computations confirm that thebuilding standards are too high for the low income communities.81Compliance with such high uniform building standards can be afforded only bythe high income areas, dominated by single family bungalows. This wasconfirmed by the study of the high income areas as shown in Table 8.Table 8. Persons Per Single Facility in a House (High Income Areas)Community Toilet Bathroom KitchenAirport 4.4 4.7 8.3Labone 5.1 5.3 9.2Cantonments 5.3 6.0 11.6Roman Ridge 6.9 6.5 9.7STANDARD 7 8 12Source: Extracted from HUDA, 1990, Vol. 2 : 35.The implication as indicated in Table 8 is that the high income residentialareas are able to meet the accepted standards for the housing amenities liketoilet, bathroom and kitchen. For some of the middle class residential areas andthe entire low income communities the standards are too high and unrealistic.Ironically these high standards are some of the bases used to determineaccessibility to municipal infrastructure and services.4.4.0 Household and Housing DensityBefore analyzing the services available in the study communities, it is necessaryto examine household and housing density data. These are crucial factors inhousing analysis, because they determine the pressure put on any unit ofservices or facility provided.82Table 9. Average household and housing density IndicatorsINDICATORS NIMA MADINA ASHIAMANHousehold Size 3.6 5.3 6.2Households living in one house 6.6 4.6 6.5No. of Rooms per house 15.2 8.2 10.7Persons living in one house 39.4 24.3 33.9Households occupying one room 25.0 33.0 11.0Source: Extracted from HUDA Study, 1990.As shown in Table 10, the numbers of households living in one house are highin these communities (about 5 households per house). This situation confonnswith the general observation in the country. Because people in low incomegroups tend to congregate in large compound houses where several householdslive together and share existing facilities whilst developing networking for theirsurvival strategies. By comparison the high income areas in the city have anaverage of less than 2 households per house (HUDA, op cit., Vol. 2:13).4.5.0 SERVICESAccording to Harvey (1972) and others, housing is not limited only to thephysical structure or the dwelling unit, but it also includes the associatedinfrastructure and public services like water, electricity, drainage, access toplace of work, etc. It is the adequate provision of the services which turns ashelter to a house. Are the buildings in the three communities, houses orshelter?834.5.1 WaterThe study revealed that, most of the existing areas in the city have municipalwater lines passing through their communities. In the case of the three studycommunities, the survey indicated that 38 per cent of the houses do not haveaccess to water.7 The residents are compelled to arrange tank water servicesthrough informal suppliers at prices 400 per cent higher than the municipalsupply rate (HUDA, 1990).The effects of such informal arrangements on poor household without directaccess to public water supply are obvious. They pay a much higher price (for acommodity of lesser quality) than consumers who are connected to publicsupply. More frequently, the water supply from private vendors has to becarried by household members over a considerable distance from the source totheir houses, with consequent loss of valuable time. Table 10 portrays theinformal water supply situation in Ghana and confirms the World Bank’s(1978b) observation that, in most developing countries the poorest householdswho have no direct access to public water supply spend more on water than therich who have legal access.7Access to water is defined as households who obtain municipal water supply from a public stand pipe in their neighborhood.84Table 10. Costs of Public and Private Water Supplyin Selected Developing Countries/Cities(US. Dollars per cubic meter).COUNTRY OR In-house Connection PrivateCITY (Public Water Supply) Vendors(WaterCarriers)Ghana 0.10 1.3-2.5Nairobi 0.20 1.4 - 2.1Senegal Free 1.6- 2.4Kampala 0.33 1.3 - 3.0Upper Volta 0.30 1.0 - 1.5Abidjan 1.0 5.0Karachi 1.0 10.0Lima 1.0 16.0Source: World Bank, 1978b (cited in Linn, 1983:148)Those who cannot afford such high prices depend on dug wells within thecommunities. This is the predominate source of water for most of the residentsof inner city slum like Nima. In the case of the peripheral slums like Madinaand Ashiaman a combination of stream water and dug wells are the majorsource of water for the residents. It was surprising to note that the main waterlines pass through these communities to serve higher income neighborhoods andindustries beyond. The consequences of untreated water and the highoccurrence of associated waterborne diseases such as typhoid, cholera andgeneral debility will continue to drain the already limited health services in the85city . Sanders and Warford (1976) survey of the evidence of health effects ofwater supply and sewerage disposal facilities indicate that, substantial healthbenefits can be achieved from good or safe water and sewerage services.4.5.2 ElectricityAbout 10 per cent of the houses surveyed in the three communities had noelectricity. The study also revealed that 85 per cent of houses had illegalelectricity connection. Such houses were characterized by low voltage andfrequently experienced power cuts and failures. Hence the electrical power isonly used in the night to illuminate between one to three 60 watts bulbs.In the study communities the major reliable source of energy was firewood andkerosene. Like the water supply situation, where it was observed that thepoorest households pay more per litre consumed than the richest households, theenergy situation is not much different. This observation agrees with the Findley(1977:45) report that, “Squatters pay more for light using kerosene lamps thanthose who have legal access to electricity.” Confinning Findley’s report,Thomas(1978) estimates that alternative sources of light are over twice asexpensive.4.5.3 SanitationFor the purpose of this study the sanitation aspects of the communities werelimited to examining access to roads, drainage and garbage collection.The study revealed that Nima has only one all season motorable road whichruns through the center of the community. Apart from this access; roads anddrains are basically non existent. In terms of garbage collection Nima’s86proximity to the Central Business District has compelled the municipality toextend its garbage collection system to cover those areas where theaccumulation of the garbage is seen by the City Officials as an eye sore. Withinthe community itself heaps of garbage not collected for months are aconspicuous phenomenon.The study indicated that over 56.8 per cent of the garbage is burnt by theresidents after months of accumulation. Since the residents occasionally burnthis garbage to reduce the stench, most parts of the community are sometimesfilled with smog. The burning of the garbage near houses also builds updangerous concentrations of toxic gases to which women and children are inparticular exposed during the many hours of the day. The risk of accidents tochildren, such as burns from the fires is also high.The situation is worst in the peripheral communities like Madina and Ashiaman.Perhaps because of their peripheral location, they are completely neglected onthe municipal agenda. Apart from a major road which abuts the settlements,access roads and drains have not been constructed. Most of the houses do noteven have any vehicular access. The major feature of these communities istherefore periodic flooding. The inhabitants also burn the garbage near theirhouses. The hazardous health effects of these unsanitary conditions on theirmajor source of drinking water (rivers and streams), poor air quality and otherenvironmental degradations are obvious.874.6.0 SummaryThis chapter provides some data and analysis which indicate that, the way theurban poor communities build and use their houses is divergent from themunicipal building codes as adopted by the government and interpreted by thehousing technocrats and policy makers. The next chapter ties together themajor conclusions of the study and examines their policy implications forhousing development in Accra.88CHAPTER FIVE - FINDINGS, CONCLUSIONS AND POLICYIMPLICATIONSThe study questions the appropriateness of the adopted building codes in Accrain meeting the variable needs of all the segments of the city’s population,particularly the urban poor. The research question is, are the building codespreventing or encouraging the growth of slum settlements?The review of the literature indicates that the building codes and housingstandards are not based on the situation and current realities faced by the urbanpoor residents of the city. They are typically old and outmoded. Many aspectsof the codes or norms date from British colonial regulations which wereinstituted to ensure that houses built for expatriate staff were to standardscomparable to those of their country of origin. Unfortunately, since the countryobtained independence in 1957; these same building codes enacted during thecolonial era continue in force with little reform, if any.The effect is that technically, the city government will not build roads or extendcity services like water, electricity and sanitation to substandard neighborhoodsbecause of their non- compliance with the codes. The affected residents aretherefore compelled through informal arrangements to provide for these serviceswhich are rarely adequate for the entire communities. In some areas theservices are basically non existent and hence the proliferation of squalid andslum settlement conditions in the urban poor neighborhoods.89The study examined the housing development processes, conditions and thelevel of services in three urban poor communities in Accra, namely: Nima,Madina and Ashiaman. Specifically it analyzed their housing design,construction materials, housing space utilization and services provided vis-à-visthe stipulations of the building codes. The major source of data extracted fromHUDA (1990) survey covered 110 houses indicating a sample size of 1.9 percent within the three communities.5.1.0 Sununary of FindingsThe study found that the household size and housing density was very high inthe area. The average household size for the study area was 5.2 persons, whilstthe number of households occupying a house was averaged at 5.9 households.Analysis of data on the construction materials used revealed that apart from thefoundations which were mostly concrete as specified in the building codes, mostof the component parts of the buildings did not conform with the specificationsof the codes. Whilst the codes specify cement walls, about 33.2 per cent of thehouses in the communities were built of landcrete walls. Similarly whilst thebuilding codes specify glass louver sheets for window, 91.3 per cent of thewindows were made of wood, locally called “Jalousie.” In connection withgreenery or lawns, there was no single house in the community which met thecode requirement.Regarding facilities like toilets, bathrooms and kitchen, which the codes specifyfor exclusive use per household, 44 per cent had no toilets and 67 per cent hadno kitchen. In the houses which had these facilities, 49.2 per cent shared toiletswith other households, 86.0 per cent shared bathrooms with other households90and 21.8 per cent shared kitchen facilities. The consequence of such openviolation of the code specification was poor infrastructure services.Poor infrastructure service was common in all the three communities. Asconfirmed by Asiama (1985), the problem of poor infrastructure like water,electricity, roads and sanitation in the low income areas are primarily due to thequestion of unequal access to municipal services. The case of the urban poor isworsened by the fact that, their housing types fall short of the specifications ofthe building codes. It was also found that most of the residents of the studycommunities are northern migrants who normally isolate themselves frommunicipal politics. The City Officials use the non-compliance with the buildingcodes as the reason for denying the urban poor of the city’s infrastructure andservices. However, the researcher’s unstructured interviews with other townplanning officials revealed other plausible reasons like politics and the lack offinance.The analysis of the study showed that, despite the illegal connection or piratingof electricity from the main lines 90 per cent of Ashiaman residents had noelectricity or water. The comparable rate for Madina was 38 per cent and thatfor Nima 10 per cent. The relatively low percentage for Nima is due to itsproximity to the Central Business District. The government sees Nima as aneye sore and occasionally turns a blind eye to illegal power connections.Sanitation problems, particularly lack of roads and drainage, and accumulationsof garbage were the commonest characteristics in the three study communities.Apart from Nima, whose proximity to the Central Business District occasionallyattracts the City Government’s attention, Madina and Ashiaman are completely91cut off the city’s sanitation collection system. The residents are sometimescompelled to burn the garbage to reduce the stench associated with months ofgarbage accumulation. The health hazards and other environmental degradationneed no emphasis. What then are the effects of the building codes and standardson urban poor housing?5.2.0 CONCLUSIONS5.2.1 Non-compliance with StandardsThe study revealed that whilst the building codes and associated municipalpolicies pursue a certain desirable standard housing, the urban poorcommunities disregard this perception of ideal standard house; they build housesas their survival strategy in the urban setting. Ironically, because of their noncompliance with the municipal building codes and standards, the poor aredenied access to basic infrastructure like water, electricity, roads, drainage andgarbage collection which ultimately creates unsanitary conditions. Such adivergence between the interpretation of the building codes and the way theurban poor build may be a contributing factor to the proliferation of slums andsqualid settlements in the city.5.2.2 Standards hinder housing improvementsAnother effect of the building codes as noted from similar experiences in Africais that, they hinder housing improvement. Housing is conceived as a finishedproduct by virtue of the provisions of the codes. Progressive housingdevelopment through self help construction skills are not encouraged whilst theuse of secondary building materials are not permitted. By insisting on suchrigid uniform standards, and the denial of infrastructure and services for noncompliance, the municipalities have tended to inhibit the further improvement of92urban poor housing. Thus in a Third World city like Accra, where the urbanpoor cannot afford “western standard houses”, the building codes and standardshave become a barrier to the progressive improvement of housing for the urbanpoor. There is therefore the need for reformulating the building codes to allowflexible and multiple building standards in the city.5.2.3 Reformulation of Building CodesThe case study of some of the urban poor communities in Accra revealed that,the urban poor are not necessarily homeless. Most of them, having obtained theconsent of the landowners, build their houses through incremental and informaldevelopment. The study indicated that 99.3 per cent of the houses werefinanced through personal sources and family assistance.The potential for “self - help” which these substandard settlements suggest,reinforces the belief by some housing researchers that; shelter as such is not themain problem for large sections of low income groups in the Third World.Rather, serviced settlements integrated within a comprehensive urban planningpolicy would be more appropriate. For, even when the urban poor are excludedfrom official housing programs, they evolve a positive and imaginative form ofurban settlements which are mostly constrained by lack of infrastructureservices and facilities. The role of Planners and other public related housingagencies, should therefore be conceived as providing those elements which theurban poor cannot provide for themselves.In a city like Accra, the study has indicated that one of such central elements isaccess to infrastructure and services like water supply, electricity and sanitation.Though there may be other political and socio-economic reasons for the neglect93of the urban poor communicities, technically access to these services is deniedthe urban poor because of their non-compliance with the existing building codesand regulations borrowed from British colonial administration. To circumventthis problem, there is the need to revise the codes and regulations to make themrealistic and relevant to all segments of the city’s population, particularly theurban poor.The argument for revision of the building codes is not intended to be an allencompassing solution, but rather on a continuous basis to gradually improvethe quality of life of the urban poor. In this direction, the revision of the codesand regulations should:• Be substantially comprehensive to cover new construction, maintenance,improvement and upgrading of existing housing stock.• Make provision for variation in the culture of the people.• Be appropriate to present needs of all segments of the city’s population andbe easily adaptable to future requirements.• Make optimum use of local resources, skills and traditional housingtechniques.The above propositions call for identification of all the resources available forhousing and adjust standards to achieve as balanced an approach as possible.What can be done to make the operative building codes more pragmatic to thehousing development of the urban poor?945.3.0 GUIDELiNES FOR AN APPROPRIATE BUILDING CODEA review of the literature and findings from the pattern of housing developmentin Accra indicate that abolishing the entire building code is likely to meetresistance from the influential elite who control politics in the city. Havingsubstantially benefited from the inherited building codes through their use inselectively providing services, the powerful elite may resist any attempt of “nostandard in housing development”. They would also not like theirneighborhoods to be invaded by what they perceive as “substandard housing”mostly built by the urban poor. Instead of a uniform standard, however, thereis the need to develop multiple standards in housing development toaccommodate the divergent and conflicting needs of residents in the city. It issuggested that the codes should be reformulated to introduce some flexibilitythat will cater for the needs of the urban poor, without hindering the needs ofthe rich and affluent who can afford such standards.Though the drafting of an appropriate building code is beyond the scope of thisstudy, this section provides some guidelines which could be further researchedand developed into an appropriate building code for the urban poor. Thesuggested guidelines are based on the fmdings of this study which among otherthings indicate that, contrary to the rich and elite who patronize in imported orforeign housing standards and design, the urban poor communities patronize ininformal or traditional methods of construction and the use of locally availablebuilding materials.In the past decades building activities in the urban poor housing sector had to alarge extent dependent upon the skills, initiatives and resources of thehouseholds themselves. The technical knowledge guiding the households own95planning and building activities is based on local traditions, common sense andlong experience of locally available materials and the socio-economic situation.Such unwritten rules based on experience should not be disregarded, butencouraged and developed into an appropriate building code. On the basis ofthe findings of the study it is suggested that emphasis for an appropriatebuilding code for the urban poor should include the following:5.3.1 Landcrete BlocksHouses built in landcrete block walls (stabilized earth blocks using cement as astabilizing agent) is common in the urban poor communities. Research by theBuilding and Road Research Institute at University of Science and Technology,Kumasi Ghana (cited in HUDA, 1990), has shown that landcrete blocks havethe following advantages over cement blocks (the specification of the existingcodes).• Many local builders are able to build with it without supervision.• Many local people are able to mould landcrete blocks with little or noexpertise.• A much wider range of soils, available country-wide can be used to makelandcrete blocks.In addition to the above advantages, the research further indicated that landcreteblocks have compressed strength that compares favorably with cement blocks,and suitably adequate for single storey buildings constructed by the urban poor.The adoption of the landcrete block as an acceptable building material is likelyto create jobs for new urban migrants who have had previous experience ofbuilding with mud in the rural areas.965.3.2 Wooden WindowsContrary to glass windows specified by the existing codes, wooden windowswhich are predominantly used by the urban poor have been found to be moreappropriate in ensuring proper ventilation in tropical countries, cheaper andmore durable (Peil, 1976). The availability of local wood and local expertisein manufacturing such building component is a big asset which should bedeveloped.5.3.3 Traditional Housing DesignAs indicated in the study, the traditional compound house type predominates inthe city’s housing stock by about 52 per cent. This type of housing design doesnot only cover the low income areas, but indigenous communities as well. Thereview of the literature indicates that this house design is more environmentallyand culturally appropriate for the urban poor. The open courtyard inherent inthis house design facilitates cooking in a tropical environment and other outdooractivities. This should be included as an acceptable house design in the urbanpoor communities.In the case of Accra, the Government’s supportive role in this direction is to• Formulate appropriate building codes or planning regulations applicable tolow income areas.• Strengthen those informal housing systems already serving low incomeneeds.• Recognize the need for local communities to exercise more influence overthe development of their dwelling units and neighborhood.97These and other related forms of intervention may offer a realistic prospect forregulating urban growth and assisting low income groups as a whole. What aresome of the obstacles towards the implementation of such a building code forthe urban poor?5.4.0 IMPLEMENTING AN APPROPRIATE BUILDING CODEOvercoming such an institutionalized building code with the possibility ofextending infrastructure to the urban poor communities is likely to face someimplementation obstacles. Some of the hindrances will be the bureaucraticdevelopment control procedures, convincing the elite or politicians for thechange in attitude towards the urban poor, and the excuse of inadequatefinancial resources.5.4.1 Communily Participation and Development ControlsIn the city, the municipal office is presently responsible for issuing planning andbuilding permits, prior to the commencement of building activities. Themunicipal office is located in the centre of the city, at considerable distancefrom most urban poor settlements. Kasanga (1991), noted that a person has towait for many hours at the municipal office before one can submit theapplication papers. Sometimes after hours, one is told to come back some otherday. On average it took about two years for one to obtain a building permit.For the urban poor who depend on daily wages or are self employed, repeatedreturn visits and waiting may mean considerable loss of income.It is accepted that the investment of “sweat equity” in shelter will increase thelikelihood that the occupant will maintain the shelter properly. It appearslogical that those benefits will be greatest, when a person is permitted to98participate in the planning, design and construction processes. Thus, inimplementing an appropriate building code for the urban poor, it is suggestedthat the procedure for the issuance of development permits should be simplifiedand brought to the community level with the local residents and the Chiefshaving control over the process.This “community empowerment”, apart from strengthening the self-reliant andco-operative character and spirit of the communities, has the added advantage ofcurtailing the delays, costs and other administrative bottlenecks associated withthe current practice where the land is allocated by the chiefs and developmentpermits are issued by technical bureaucrats at the municipal office. Localhousing groups should be merged with the Chief’s land allocation office tofurther reduce the administrative expenses of housing development at the locallevel. To ensure joint planning with the municipal office, such local housinggroups should be assisted by personnel from the municipal office (re-educatedto understand the urban poor) in providing free advice, information andtechnical assistance to potential house-builders at the local level.5.4.2 Politicians and Public HealthThere will be the need to educate the politicians on the need to incorporate theslums in the city’s infrastructure and services. One of the justifications forextending services to these communities is on public health grounds. The healthbenefits obtained from clean water, access to electricity and sanitary urbanenvironment accrue to all the city’s inhabitants (and even to people livingoutside the city). A squalid residential environment is a constant threat tohealth and life itself and therefore constitutes a drain on human resources, oneof a nation’s most valuable assets.99A standard argument is that if individuals are compelled by economic, socialand political reasons to live in unsanitary areas and permitted to indiscriminatelydegrade and pollute the environment, the consequences affect not onlythemselves but others as well. This externality can be best dealt with bycollective action. Hence the need to extend infrastructure and services to theurban poor.5.4.3 Finance and Gradual Improvement of InfrastructureHaving recognized that the urban poor communities are permanent settlements,the city should lay emphasis on the provision of basic services as an essentialand integral component of the basic strategy to improve shelter conditions in thecity. Finance is one of the factors which prevent actions to change the presentconditions.Financial constraints in a developing country like Ghana, may demand that, thecity cannot provide all the resources necessary to rebuild infrastructureaccording to standards that pertain in the high or medium income communities.To cope with this problem, the city can concentrate it’s limited resources onproviding those physical infrastructures which the urban poor find most difficultor impossible to organize or construct by themselves. That is, it canconcentrate on providing roads and footpaths, drainage ditches, communalwater taps, sanitary latrines, garbage bins and social services such as schools,and health clinic as was undertaken under the Kampung Improvement Programin Jakarta, Indonesia (Taylor and Williams, 1982). These services may even beprovided on a gradual improvement basis.100An improvable standard can be established on a sliding scale which wouldpennit frequent if not continuous improvement. An example of such animprovable services standard is indicated in Table 11 below:Table 11 Improvable Services Standards (An Example)FACILITY STEP 1 STEP 2 STEP 3 STEP 4Water Standpipe(e.g. ip Standpipe(eg. 1 Individual Individualer 100 people) per 50 people) connection of connection ofstandpipe on multiple outletsplotsElectricity 2 No. 60 watts 2 No. 100 watts Full Supply Full Supplybulbs bulbsToilets Pit Latrine: Pit Latrine: Pour- flush: Central WaterVentilated Ventilated Septic Tank Carriage SystemRoads All weather road All weather road All weather Sealed all weathercompacted compacted sealed and roads and sidegravel gravel chipped roads walkDrainage Earth drains Earth drains Concrete drains Concrete drainsThe establishment of a sliding scale of standards in infrastructure would providea step-by-step improvement of settlements and would permit higher standards tobe used in developments which can bear the relevant costs. By providing thesebasic community infrastructures, the residents themselves would be encouragedto improve their own dwellings as improvements are made in their environment.In meeting such a public health need as extension of services to the poor, thecost of such a public service should he shared by all residents through acombination of governmental subsidies, general taxation and user charges.101This could be a dynamic approach of improving the unsanitary housingconditions of the urban poor, through progressive development approacheswithout neglecting the goal of developing a stable and pleasant environment.5.4.4 Appropriate Technology and Gradual Improvement of InfrastructureFlowing from inadequate fmancial resources, another obstacle towards thegradual improvement of infrastructure is inappropriate technology. Whileknowledge about appropriate technologies for infrastructure is increasing, andgovernments are becoming aware of the coverage, much still remain to be donein order to incorporate and promote their use in general practice. Legislativeinstruments such as public health acts, regulations and services codes andstandards currently being used in Ghana present serious shortcomings. Amajority of these instruments are based on high imported standards and containrecommendations to adopt inappropriate technologies.Efforts to adhere to these regulatory procedures and standards causeconstruction to become too costly or simply inappropriate to given culturalcontext. In their attempts to reduce costs, service agencies and housingagencies have come into conflict with public health authorities, whose role it isto enforce the legislations as they stand. The inconsistency between standardsand needs has restrained progress in the delivery of infrastructure services in thecity. The urban poor communities bear the brunt of the resulting deficiencies,because the demand to use exaggerated standards often results in excluding thissocial group from benefiting infrastructure investment made with limitednational resources. Thus to make gradual improvement of infrastructure morefeasible, there is an imperative need to produce up-to-date regulations and102standards for infrastructure services that are suited to the requirements of theurban poor communities5.4.5 Use of Special ZonesAnother possible approach of improving the housing conditions of the urbanpoor through the building codes is the use of special zones. This may be doneusing an approach which is based on multiple standards and allows planning andhousing authorities to designate certain areas where certain provision of thecodes and standards apply. This calls for pragmatic building codes of practiceand standards that are based on actual situation in urban poor neighborhoodsrather than some ideal statement of minimum requirement. Such a flexibility,as performance standards would allow various households to have access tomunicipal services without having to build to standards that they cannot affordto meet or maintain.It is suggested therefore, that actual conditions in substandard (slum) areas beincorporated in the building codes. Such flexible building codes and standardshave been used in Philippines, Kenya, Zambia and Jamaica through an arealapproach that makes it possible to designate an area as ‘special developmentzone’ where make shift dwellings to other structures considered ‘substandard’elsewhere have been allowed (Laquian, 1983:219). Such flexible codes tend toformalize existing conditions and make possible the gradual improvement ofconditions in substandard or slum communities.The extension of services and infrastructure to the special zones could furtherallow the city authority room for some guidance of the settlements. Suchguidance could prevent peripheral slum communities like Ashiaman and Madina103from expanding haphazardly over valuable agricultural land, and also preventunnecessarily sprawled urban patterns.5.5.0 Policy ImplicationsThe policy implications of the study on housing development in Accra are clear,in that 53 per cent of the houses are in the popular (informal) sector and mostlyconstructed by the low income groups (Ghosh, 1984). It is an indication thatlow income urban dwellers have the potential to develop their ownaccommodation. The irony that people with least resources (the lower incomegroups) are at present responsible for most new housing construction in the city,despite little or no governmental support and often in the face of considerablehostility, should be a challenge to housing technocrats and policy makers. Thestudy suggests that building codes and housing standards have to bereformulated to create the enabling environment for improving the actualbuilding process of the urban poor.As Accra’s population increases due to natural increase and unprecedented netin migration; urban decision makers, planners and housing technocrats will beforced not only to include the urban poor in their planning models, but developinnovative approaches to deal with their housing problems within the growingcity crisis. The alternative will be further social and economic disintegration inthe urban center.Without a positive government intervention, taken in support of the urban poorefforts, initiative, cultural and environmental circumstance, the growth of urbanpoor settlements will continue to be unplanned, uncontrolled, illegal, unhealthy,difficult and costly to upgrade, thus adding to already massive existing urban104problems in the city. The review of the existing building codes to reflect therealities, needs and circumstances of the urban poor could be a way ahead.This road is by no means easy, since in the past the building codes have beenused to selectively provide service in the city. But at least the direction wouldbe current and some of the key bottlenecks restricting the access of the urbanpoor to basic infrastructure and services would be eliminated.105BIBLIOGRAPHYAbloh, F.A. 1972. Growth of Towns in Ghana: A Ilistorical Study of the Social andPhysical Growth of Selected Town in Ghana. 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Public Housing in Singapore- A Multi disciplinary Study.Singapore: Singapore University Press.114APPENDIX1150?116-hfrf’4d•..ocr e. $..I wa4.Jco.muca,te .— moo’.Dl(MD ..mos I Fab 1aI(?D* Cga(mv CIIj—@Cg.t.’tD um.amO*w’ cmststma‘950— 1960s—._r--i__--— ‘VrypicAL. CROSS SECTION.,L..JIII. I-I ,.(\baSk 1?,Cm mwaa( I*S?IIO••4.a•• V_*,cI.,....oo-w’ CmIIw$mcam.,go-aw iou ow’.s.US( Iaie?iu i ua1800— 1880s.4- flt}1.d. $Ovoa(SOI.O I$ WOLI.II_..Gi *00.W,(’a i.q.eD Dooms LWWOo’1Soil .ftl **G41920—1930sTYPICAl.. FL.QOM PLANSFigure 3.1 (a) Sketch plans of typical Ashanti single-storeycompound houseSource: Tipple, 1987.117Figure 3.2(b) Multi—storey canpound houseFigure 3.2(c) Govemit—built s-detached estate house118Figure 3. (d) Large bga1ow on large plotsFigure 3. (e) Large block of flats119oil


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