Coping with the Challenges of Urbanization in Low Income Areas: An Analysis of the Livelihood Systems of Slum Dwellers of the Wa Municipality, Ghana


In Ghana, unplanned and spontaneous urbanization has trapped many in slum dwellings with its attendant poverty, insecurity, and poor housing and general environmental conditions. Slum dwellers’ choices of livelihood activities are restricted under various socio-economic and planning constraints. Using mixed methods, this paper explored the conditions under which slum dwellers can maximize the prospects of their environment and minimize the challenges therein. The findings indicate that slum dwellers have diversity of livelihood assets and potentials, yet limited access to planned adaptation remains a main challenge. Many dwellers result to autonomous “supplementary occupations” to cope with the challenges of urbanization. It is therefore imperative to redefine the mandate of urban planning, as a response to spontaneous urbanization, and to develop a tool for sustainable livelihood at the local level.

Share and Cite:

Abu-Salia, R. , Osumanu, I. and Ahmed, A. (2015) Coping with the Challenges of Urbanization in Low Income Areas: An Analysis of the Livelihood Systems of Slum Dwellers of the Wa Municipality, Ghana. Current Urban Studies, 3, 105-118. doi: 10.4236/cus.2015.32010.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] Adarkwa, K., & Post, J., Eds. (2001). The Fate of the Tree; Planning and Managing the Development of Kumasi. Accra: Woeli Publishing Services.
[2] Afrane, S. K. (2010). Slum Development in Ghana. London: Earth Scan Publication.
[3] Ahmad, S., Choi, M. J., & Ko, J. (2013). Quantitative and Qualitative Demand for Slum and Non-slum Housing in Delhi: Empirical Evidences from Household Data. Habitat International, 38, 90-99.
[4] Ahmed, A. (2014a). Ghana National Urban Policy: Prospects and Challenges for Slum and Urban Management. Unpublished Manuscript, Town and Country Planning Department, Wa, Ghana.
[5] Ahmed, A. (2014b). Factors in Building Resilience in Urban Slums of Dhaka, Bangladesh. Procedia Economics and Finance, 18, 745-753.
[6] Aklin, M., Bayer, P., Harish, S. P., & Urpelainen, J. (2015). Quantifying Slum Electrification in India and Explaining Local Variation. Energy, 80, 203-212.
[7] Blaikie, W., & Davis, C., (2004). At Risk, People’s Vulnerability and Disaster (p. 464). New York: Routledge.
[8] Fall, A. (1998). Migrants Long Distance Relationship and Social Network in Dakar. Environment & Urbanization, 10, 135-146.
[9] Floro, M., & Swain, R. (2013). Food Security, Gender, and Occupational Choice among Urban Low-Income Households. World Development, 42, 89-99.
[10] Fox, S. (2014). The Political Economy of Slums: Theory and Evidence from Sub-Saharan Africa. World Development, 54, 191-203.
[11] Ghana Statistical Service (2002). 2000 Population and Housing Census. Accra: Ghana Statistical Service.
[12] Ghana Statistical Service (2012). 2010 Population and Housing Census. Accra: Ghana Statistical Service.
[13] Gulyani, S., Bassett, E. M., & Talukdar, D. (2014). A Tale of Two Cities: A Multi-Dimensional Portrait of Poverty and Living Conditions in the Slums of Dakar and Nairobi. Habitat International, 43, 98-107.
[14] Miller, R. L., & Brewer, J. D. (2003). A-Z of Social Research. London: Longman.
[15] Nsiah-Gyabaah, K. (2009). The Urban Housing Challenge and Prospects for Meeting the Housing Needs of the Urban Poor in Ghana, CSIR/GIA (Eds.): Proceedings of the 2009 National Housing Conference, Accra, October 7-8, 2009.
[16] Parikh, P., Chaturvedi, S., & George, G. (2012a). Empowering Change: The Effects of Energy Provision on Individual Aspirations in Slum Communities. Energy Policy, 50, 477-485.
[17] Parikh, P., Parikh, H., & McRobie, A. (2012b). The Role of Infrastructure in Improving Human Settlements. Proceedings of the ICE-Urban Design and Planning, 166, 101-118.
[18] Parikh, P., Fu, K., Parikh, H., Mcrobie, A., & George, G. (2015). Infrastructure Provision, Gender, and Poverty in Indian Slums. World Development, 66, 468-486.
[19] Patel, A., Koizumi, N., & Crooks, A. (2014). Measuring Slum Severity in Mumbai and Kolkata: A Household-Based Approach. Habitat International, 41, 300-306.
[20] Pugalis, L., Giddings, B., & Anyigor, A. (2014). Reappraising the World Bank Responses to Rapid Urbanisation: Slum Improvements in Nigeria. Local Economy, 29, 519-540.
[21] Republic of Ghana (2012a). National Urban Policy. Accra: Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD).
[22] Republic of Ghana (2012b). Ghana Shared Growth Development Agenda I. Accra: National Development Planning Commission.
[23] Songsore, J. (2010). The Urban Transition in Ghana: Urbanization, National Development and Poverty Reduction. Study Prepared for the IIED as Part of Its Eight Country Case Studies on Urbanization.
[24] Stoler, J., Tutu, R. A., & Winslow, K. (2015). Piped Water Flows but Sachet Consumption Grows: The Paradoxical Drinking Water Landscape of an Urban Slum in Ashaiman, Ghana. Habitat International, 47, 52-60.
[25] STWR (2010). The Seven Myths of Slums: Challenging Popular Prejudices about the World’s Urban Poor. London: Share the World’s Resources.
[26] Thorn, J., Thornton, T. F., & Helfgott, A. (2015). Autonomous Adaptation to Global Environmental Change in Peri-Urban Settlements: Evidence of a Growing Culture of Innovation and Revitalisation in Mathare Valley Slums, Nairobi. Global Environmental Change, 31, 121-131.
[27] Tumwebaze, I. K., Niwagaba, C. B., Günther, I., & Mosler, H. J. (2014). Determinants of Households’ Cleaning Intention for Shared Toilets: Case of 50 Slums in Kampala, Uganda. Habitat International, 41, 108-113.
[28] UN-Habitat (2005). The Legacy of the Urban Management Programme. Nairobi: UN-Habitat.
[29] UN-Habitat (2007). State of the World’s Cities 2006/2007. Nairobi: UN-Habitat.
[30] UN-Habitat (2008). The Challenge of Slums: Global Report on Human Settlements. London: Earthscan Publications.
[31] UN-Habitat (2009). State of the World’s Cities: Harmonious Cities 2008/2009. London: Earthscan Publications.
[32] UN-Habitat (2011). Ghana Housing Profile. Nairobi: UN-Habitat.
[33] UN-Habitat (2012). State of the World’s Cities 2012/2013. Nairobi: UN-Habitat.
[34] United Nations (2011). The Millennium Development Goals Report, 2011. New York: United Nations.
[35] Watson, V. (2009). The Planned City Sweeps the Poor Away: Urban Planning and 21st Century Urbanization. Progress in Planning, 72, 151-193.

Copyright © 2022 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.