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Business News of Thursday, 12 September 2013

Source: graphic.com

Lack of investment in rural areas; cause of urban slums

A professor at the Centre for Migration Studies of the University of Ghana, Prof. George Owusu, has attributed the increase in slum communities in Accra to “ the concentration of development projects in the capital region”.

According to him, since most of the foreign investments were based in Accra, with only a small per cent left for the remaining regions to share, rural dwellers “are forced to come to Accra to look for better conditions”.

Speaking at poverty dissemination workshop in Accra, Prof. Owusu said data collected from 2002 to 2008, revealed that over 80 per cent of foreign investments were in Accra.

The purpose of the workshop was to launch research findings on; “Urbanisation, rural-urban migration and urban poverty in Ghana”.

The focus of the research study was on two of the largest low-income informal settlements in Accra. The areas were Nima and Old Fadama.

The research was funded by the UK government’s Department for International Development (DFID).

Prof. Owusu said until a more balanced development approach that would guarantee equitable distribution of the benefits of economic growth was adopted, the country was more likely to see more of the Nimas and Old Fadamas springing up in Accra.

He said national policy had failed to properly address the issues of urban migration, adding that “this has paved the way for most people to leave the rural areas for Accra”.

Commenting on the research study, Prof. Owusu said rural areas still had higher incidences of poverty than urban settlements in the country “but urban poverty is on the rise and has been partly attributed to the migration of poor rural Ghanaians into poor areas in the cities, especially Accra”.

According to him, the research revealed that majority of the migrants at Nima and Old Fadama mentioned education, job and marriage as some of the reasons for their coming to Accra.

“The research also revealed that most of the residents were into e-waste business and scrap dealings,” Prof. Owusu said.

According to Prof. Owusu, the purpose of the study was to find out whether the migrants in fact transported poverty status from their places of origin, and what strategies they were adopting to maximise their chances of moving out of poverty.

He said instead of the city authorities neglecting slum communities in the country, “they must think of ways to upgrade them”.

“Despite the neglect of informal settlements such as Nima and Old Fadama by the city authorities and the state in terms of infrastructure and services, migrants continue to flood these communities,” he said.