A functional support system in a bustling 24/7 economy: Perspectives on slum dwellers in Ashaiman, Ghana
Authors: Erika Mamley Osae, John Victor Mensah, David Wellington Essaw, Rufai Kilu
Abstract: Slums are often associated with negativities in society including social vices, thievery and arm robbery due to the unsightly nature of the settlements, characterized with filth and insanitary conditions. However, slums provide accommodation for rural-urban migrants who are unable to afford the high cost of rent due to several factors including poor housing policy by government, high rental cost, financial difficulties, unemployment and poverty. This study aims at ascertaining the functional activities and survival strategies of slum dwellers in Ashaiman Municipality in Ghana. Ashaiman is a sprawling urban settlement, parts of which exhibit characteristics of a slum. It is a home to people from many ethnic groups within and outside Ghana who are all there to eke out a living. It also provides space for well organised and recognised professional, trade, ethnic, welfare and youth associations with formal structures and support systems to ensure good governance, compliance and reward systems. This study deployed a mixed method approach to collect quantitative and qualitative data from 490 respondents and 13 key informants in two slum communities; namely; Manmomo and Tulaku within Ashaiman Municipality. Interview schedule, interview guides and focus group discussion guides were used to collect data. Appropriate techniques were used to process and analyse the data. The results showed that the slum dwellers presented varied economic potentials as they contributed to the bustling 24/7 economy. The local economy was characterised by small and micro-scale activities in the informal sector. The municipal authority generated revenue through taxation in whatever form while the slum dwellers provided a strong voting block for politicians. However, the slums also provided the opacity needed for illegal activities. The slum residents operated in an under-served location with deficits in security, infrastructure, health and environmental sanitation. The survival strategies included social safety in terms of perception of historical and traditional ties, social acceptability, social network, security and business opportunities. The diverse characteristics, capacities, tenacity arising from survival experiences, adaptability, social capital, political clout in numbers, and youthful population contribute to make the slum communities in Ashaiman a place of survival. The main argument of the study is that slum dwellers demonstrate resourcefulness, thereby debunking their association with low levels of access to productive sources. It is therefore, recommended that the central government, local government, technocrats, the private sector and civil society groups should collaborate to enhance the potentials of the slum dwellers for local level development.
Keywords: slum dwellers, survival strategies, opportunities, Ashaiman municipality
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