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UBC Theses and Dissertations

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


This thesis explores the inadequate housing conditions of the urban poor in relation to housing regulations and services provided in selected communties in Accra, Ghana. Case studies and qualitative approaches are used in examining the main provisions of building codes: housing development processes, arrangements and sizes of rooms, materials used in construction and penalty for non-compliance (denial of services), in three urban poor communities in Accra. A review of the literature indicates that formal regulations, particularly building codes were set during the colonial period in Ghana. The main purpose was to provide European settlers or officials with houses of standard design similar to those in their country of origin. Even though Ghana obtained political independence in 1957, these building codes with little modification have become the dominant tools in housing policies. The thesis finds that the standard requirements set by the building codes are very high for the urban poor. They are also unrelated to local culture, the climate, and the skills and resources of the urban poor. The overall effect is that the urban poor do not follow the standards specified by the codes and are penalized by the government through denial of the city’s infrastructure and services like water, electricity, garbage collection, roads, etc. From the case studies and analysis of secondary data, the thesis concludes that although there are other social, economic and political factors which underlie inequality in the city; the penalties for non-compliance with building codes are key factors contributing to the inadequate housing conditions in the urban poor communities. They also hamper progressive housing improvement strategies. To allow flexibility in the extension of infrastructure and services to the communities, the thesis suggests reformulation of the building codes, taking into account the existing conditions of the rapidly growing urban poor settlements.

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