• by Shareen Elnaschie

    Following the devastation caused by tropical storm Ondoy (Ketsana) in 2009, questions on where and how to resettle over 100,000 prioritised Informal Settler Families (ISFs) became the focus of much needed attention. These families, currently situated in high level risk zones within Metro Manila – mostly along polluted and congested waterways – are the first to suffer when the city experiences extreme and frequent weather events. The strong preference for in-city relocation, an ever-growing population and costs associated with building upon poor soil, has catalysed a renewed interest in what are commonly known as medium rise buildings (MRBs: buildings up to a maximum of five storeys).

    Whilst the emphasis is on providing safe housing as quickly as possible – relying on currently available models – there is need to invest in parallel investigation. Much opportunity exists to learn from past experiences and to challenge the way that we conceive of, and conduct, resettlement projects. Towards this aim, TAO Pilipinas, under their Young Professionals scheme, initiated a research project investigating three MRB projects within Metro Manila, focusing on the physical aspects of the projects and how they relate to the socio-economic sphere.

    The three chosen projects represent different approaches to housing provision. Separated by the Estero de Vitas, Katuparan Housing (1990) and the Smokey Mountain (2004) development make an interesting comparison. Both house approximately 1,200 families from a similar catchment area and both suffer from similar site ailments: poor ground conditions, poor air quality and pollution from the nearby R-10 highway and industrial port, and flooding. TFI Townhomes (2009) by Habitat for Humanity is an example of a more inclusive approach that is made possible by working with smaller beneficiary groups.

    The goal of this study was to take an objective approach to assess the successes and failures of these projects, to begin to distinguish common themes and issues and to identify key questions and areas for further research and enquiry. The first stage of this research was presented at a round-table discussion at the Department for Interior and Local Government (DILG) office, involving members from DILG, National Housing Association (NHA), Partnership of Philippine Support Service Agencies (PHILSSA) and other key housing stakeholders. The following is a concise summary of the findings and initial conclusions from the discussion.
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  • Research 30.09.2010 No Comments
    An urban planner assesses the damaging impact of flooding and erosion on a poor migrant community in Kumasi, Ghana
    by Aldrin B. Plaza

    ayigya01The country of Ghana in West Africa is susceptible to different kinds of disasters including plague and disease outbreak and floods caused by excessive rains. In 2007, the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent reported the death of twenty-two persons and the displacement of 200,000 more individuals most of whom are farmers due to torrential rains which lasted for three weeks in the Upper East Region of Ghana. The City of Kumasi, Ghana’s second largest city located in the Ashanti Region, and its peri-urban areas are not spared from the devastating effects of these floods.

    In Kumasi the growth of peri-urban communities depends very much on their proximity to the city center and also to their adjoining areas and the activities therein. The city is almost at the center of Ghana and is traversed by a number  of major road networks making it susceptible to migration. For the City of Kumasi, a peri-urban interface area is defined as places “with presence of bush/fallow agricultural land, but with competition for land from non-agricultural uses” and is determined as areas from 4 to 47 km from the center of Kumasi (Brook and Davilla, 2000). One of these peri-urban villages in Kumasi is the community of Ayigya, a suburb of Kumasi under the Ofirokorm sub-metro located about 5 km from the Kumasi City center. This study focused on the areas located in the Old Ayigya – Ayigya Zongo and Ayigya Ahimbono.

    Ayigya started as an area occupied by about ten families in the 1950s. When migrants from the north of Ghana seeking a better life started to look for areas where they could build settlements, the then Chief of Ayigya allowed them to settle on the other side of their hill settlement. This place is what is now referred to as Ayigya Zongo which literally means “migrant’s village”. In Ghana, all lands are under the stewardship (and ownership) of the Chiefs and other such traditional rulers (in the case of the Ashanti Region where Kumasi is situated, all lands are owned by the Ashanti King). So all matters pertaining to land use and allocation would first have to get the approval of the Chief, and if given approval, a lease certificate of 99 years is given to the individual or entity (50 years if the individual or entity is a foreigner or foreign-owned).

    ayigya02Almost all of the settlers in Ayigya Zongo are Muslims while the original settlers in the Ayigya Ahimbono area follow a traditional religion where priests also play a role in the village’s traditional and political affairs along with the Chief. A shrine built by the original settlers located on the topmost portion of Ayigya still exists to this day. This shrine, as stated by the traditional priests, serves as the home of the souls of their ancestors. It is situated on a high area because they believe that their ancestors will continue to watch over them from the shrine. At present, Ayigya Ahimbono’s population has a large number of Christians due to the influx of renters in the area. Although the Town and Country Planning Department (TCPD) made plans in 1967 and 1978 to develop the suburb community of Ayigya, its development was dictated by the traditional rulers (the Chiefs) and the demand for low-cost rental housing for the employees and also students of the Kwameh Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST). Basic infrastructure services such as water supply and drainage are lacking and the buildings are made up of only a few multiple storey buildings, with most buildings being single-storey compound houses which are rented out to multiple tenants. These compound houses have an average occupancy of about 12 families.
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