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It’s not just the land; it’s the society: Understanding the Impacts of Dispossession on Sociocultural Dynamics in Ghana’s Oil Region

Authors: Michael Acheampong*, Suffolk University, Boston, Fenda Akiwumi, University of South Florida
Topics: Cultural Geography, Africa, Environment
Keywords: extraction industry, livelihoods, sociocultural dynamics, well-being
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Like many developing countries, resource-rich areas in Ghana have had a long but fractious relationship with the extraction industry. Not only does the exploitation cause loss of livelihoods but often result in social conflicts and upheaval. Since the 2009, the Western Region of Ghana has seen renewed interest and activity from “outsiders” owing to the oil find within its boundaries. Many communities there are largely subsistent economies whose livelihoods are bound to the productivity of resources – farm lands and fisheries – within the immediate environment. The emergence of the oil industry has been fingered for the new wave of dispossession and loss of livelihoods in communities within the heart of the industry’s activities. In many cases, these livelihood activities are not just a means of sustenance but a way of life and an important adhesive in the social and cultural fabric. Hence, losses in such resources have impacts that far greater than can be seen from monetary quantification. The main objective of this study was to assess the impact of the sociocultural systems and communal wellbeing of the select towns in the Sekondi-Takoradi Metropolis and the village of Atuabo, using a mixed methods approach including conducting surveys and interviews with local residents and community leaders. Our findings reveal that increase in cost of living and loss of livelihoods spurring a wave of outmigration. In addition, increase conflicts and other vices had become more common in these areas. These issues merit consideration as Ghana takes stock of its oil industry.

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