Historical Mapping of West African Urban Agriculture

Authors: Imogen Bellwood-Howard*, Institute for Development Studies
Topics: Agricultural Geography, Africa, Urban Geography
Keywords: Agriculture, West Africa, Urban planning,
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/12/2018
Start / End Time: 3:20 PM / 5:00 PM
Room: Napoleon D2, Sheraton 3rd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

This paper emphasises the importance of historical alongside spatial mapping in the exploration of urban agriculture (UA). Our project on West African urban agriculture spatially mapped the study cities of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, and Tamale, Ghana in 2013, integrating this data with results from surveys and focus groups. Yet we found the need for an added historical perspective to explain why contemporary UA manifested differentially between locations.
Pre-colonial trading systems, ethnic occupational backgrounds and different histories of urban expansion form the background to the development of UA in the study cities. Colonial imperatives shaped urban form prior to the start of the 20th century, with earlier development, a grid plan, and stricter enforcement of planning laws in Ouagadougou. More recently, different state policies of land management have influenced how rapidly developing land markets in both cities interact differentially with the vested interests of chiefs, farmers and land developers.
These contrasts in regulation and implementation, alongside historical and cultural imperatives, express in the physical arrangements and architectures of the two cities. This influences the form of UA and its role in urban food provision.
Thus, our paper shows how the environmental materialities of two cities in adjacent countries, with similar ecologies, interact with their different socio-political and planning contexts to construct UA in different ways. It therefore validates the use of historical and cultural data in the examination of UA, alongside traditional mapping, surveys, and qualitative data collection.

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