A Discourse Analysis on the Future of Informal Settlement in Accra: A Sustainability Perspective

Authors: Hsi-Chuan Wang*,
Topics: Africa, Sustainability Science, Urban and Regional Planning
Keywords: urban sustainability; urban informality; discourse analysis; urban planning; Accra; Africa
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/10/2021
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:15 AM
Room: Virtual 26
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Urban informality is a visible sign of urbanization in the Global South. Significant among them is the growing urban informal settlements, which expects to reach three billion by 2050. Informal settlements are a visible feature of Accra, Ghana, where almost 60% of the population live in informal settlements. The current growing trends of informal settlements are a clear indication that they must be planned in a sustainable fashion as they will not only stay but continue to grow. From this lens, it is imperative to articulate what sustainability represents and whether current strategies of dealing with informal settlements are sustainable, especially about the contemporary housing policies in Ghana. Understanding what sustainability means in informal settlements remains a planning challenge for many urban planners in the developing world.
This paper responds to this gap by conducting a discourse analysis routing around issues of urban informality and urban sustainability, and it seeks to unfold the imaginations of key stakeholders on the future of informal settlements in Accra. Through in-depth interviews, this paper (1) positions the driving forces behind the increasing informal settlements in Accra (2) examines how sustainability has been differently conceived by stakeholders, particularly national and local planners, and (3) highlights the characteristics of policies on informal settlements. It particularly addresses whether the current practices are sustainable and are responding to the city’s housing needs. This paper seeks to contribute to the urban literature on different conceptualization of sustainability and its implications for the growing informal settlements in the Global South.

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