Glefe, a slum in the west side of Accra. The area gets heavily flooded about once a year. This picture is from June 10th 2014, when the community was flooded as a result of the combination of the spillage of the Weija Dam and the rain. The houses are literally built on the beach. The constructions are illegal, meaning that there is no planning and it is forbidden to build in this area. Residents here claimed the space for a short stay and not for residence, but eventually they settled there, about 7 years ago. There are no hospitals and public schools in the community, only private ones and those established by NGOs and volunteers (for a total of about 40 schools). There are no paved streets and no drainage system, and that is what caused the food and also made it difficult for the water to drain which in fact stayed there for many days. The area which is already difficult to reach regardless of the whether condition, became even more isolated . Glefe gets somehow flooded every time there is heavy rain but on June 10th as in other occasions in the past, the combination of the rain and the spillage made the situation even worse. Three people have died during the flood and some school remained closed for days because either they are flooded or children have fled.
Environmental challenge in the periphery of Accra, Ghana. This is Pambros, another slum in the western periphery of Accra. Here houses have been built spontaneously, completely unplanned. Dwellers are among the poorest in Accra and are mainly fisherman or sellers. Houses are built up to few meters away from the shore. There is no public waste collection system and solid waste accumulates in open gutters, where present, on the beaches and even in the sea. Gutters are chocked with filth. In the specific area pictured below, there are not even gutters because the area is not supposed to be residential, but the beach is almost entirely covered with waste,especially plastic. This is destroying the natural resources, namely the sea water and the shore. It brings also several diseases, considering also that the city water system does not reach this area, therefore dwellers have no running water but need to buy it and store it in tanks. The lack of running water also means few or no toilets and therefore the phenomenon of open defecation is very common in this area. The recent severe cholera outbreak in Accra was due especially to this sanitation issue.
One aspect of privatization that we have seen in the last decades is the creation of gated communities which limit public spaces. Trasacco valley in East Legon in the north periphery of Accra is a clear example. The houses in this gated community are accessible only to a minority of the people in the city, and in fact most of the residents of Trasacco Valley are expatriates from outside Ghana. Access is limited by a main gate surveilled by several security people and by other gates for clusters of houses. The whole area is the suburb outside the city center and it is not very well connected with public transportation, making it accessible almost exclusively with private transportation (which can be afforded only by some). Interestingly as a white woman when entering the community two or three times I have never been asked by the security where I was going and who I was visiting, while I was seeing other people (especially black male) being questioned and signing a visitors’ book.