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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The integration of housing and economic activites: a case study of low-income settlements in Kumasi, Ghana Afrane, Samuel K.


This dissertation is concerned with the appropriateness of the conventional urban land use segregation concept which separates people's residence from their place of work. The empirical research is focused on the creative processes by which households in four low income settlements in Kumasi, the second largest city in Ghana, integrate their economic survival strategies into the design and use of their housing. The study analyses the extent to which income, settlement type (i.e., informal or government built estates) and location (i.e., inner-city or periphery) have influenced the emergence of neighbourhood enterprises in four low-income settlements. It also examines the kinds of impact the enterprises have had on family income, employment generation, the use of housing space and the functional linkages of the enterprise with the urban economy. The study covered 1,289 enterprises in the four settlements dealing with informal and semi-formal activities; home-based and non home-based businesses; goods- and service-oriented activities; and enterprises which serviced the neighbourhood market and businesses with market outlets outside the city. The enterprises operated as family businesses functionally integrated into the day to day activities of the family. On average, each enterprise employed about three persons. About half of the employed persons surveyed were involved in neighbourhood enterprises. Women constituted 64 per cent of the total workforce and 63 per cent of the entrepreneurs. Higher concentration of the enterprises was observed in settlements with relatively lower income; those close to the city centre; and those with greater flexibility in development processes. Housing development processes manifested a gradual progression from mainly domestic land use to increasingly complex and integrated activities. In sum, the study revealed that although municipal policies pursue the goal of separating where people live and work, housing practices in the communities reflected an integration of residence and work. The study establishes that for the poor, a house is not just a shell but a place where people live, work and struggle for survival. Based on these findings and insights from the case studies and the literature review, the dissertation suggests that there may be a need for: (a) a shift from the conventional land use segregation planning concept to a more holistic perception of the urban system and the organic integration of its functions; and (b) an evolutionary housing and neighbourhood development approach which is culturally appropriate and economically supportive to the survival of the family. The study also suggests that since the problem of poor housing and infrastructure in these communities is primarily due to the question of unequal access to government resources, future improvements in the communities will depend largely on the residents' ability to organise into a strong political force that will lobby for increased municipal funding for the neighbourhoods. These suggestions will provide the framework for the implementation of an integrated neighbourhood development program in the communities focusing on housing improvements, low-cost infrastructure schemes and employment generation through strong local action and effective involvement of relevant actors in the private and public sectors. The dissertation concludes that the enterprises are thriving not only because they fulfil essential neighbourhood demands, but also because of benign neglect on the part of the elite groups who control the city. Although the evidence from the study suggests that the future survival of the neighbourhood enterprises is reasonably assured, their future economic advancement, depends largely on the support and disposition of the city authorities in Kumasi. Perhaps, if similar studies are undertaken in other cities in Ghana and the developing world, the trends noted in this dissertation may be generalised.

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