Housing units
Housing units

Affordable housing challenges, impact on population

Accra, the bustling capital city of Ghana, is a place of stark contrasts.

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On one hand, it is a city of opportunity, economic growth and cultural vibrancy. On the other hand, it is a city grappling with significant challenges, particularly in providing affordable housing to its rapidly increasing population.

The urbanisation, marked by a steady influx of people from rural areas seeking better livelihoods, has placed immense pressure on the city's infrastructure and housing market.

According to recent data, the city's population has doubled over the past two decades, reaching an estimated 2.6 million residents. This growth is largely fuelled by rural-urban migration, driven by the promise of better job prospects, education and healthcare services in the city.

The rapid urbanisation has strained infrastructure, leading to congested roads, inadequate public transportation, and overstretched utilities such as water and electricity. The city's planning and development efforts have struggled to keep pace with this growth, resulting in haphazard urban informal settlements.

As formal housing options become increasingly out of reach due to its inadequacy as compared to the population and prices, many of Accra's residents have had no choice but to turn to informal settlements, commonly known as slums.

These areas are characterised by poor living conditions, lack of basic services, such as clean water and sanitation, and vulnerability to health hazards and environmental risks. While the Ghanaian government has initiated several housing projects aimed at addressing the crisis, these efforts have often fallen short.

The projects are typically plagued by issues such as insufficient funding, bureaucratic delays and corruption. Consequently, the housing units that are completed are either too few in number or priced beyond the reach of those who need them most.

Low-income families are the hardest hit by the affordable housing crisis. They are often forced to live in overcrowded and substandard conditions, which adversely affect their health, education, and overall quality of life. The lack of secure tenure also means they are at constant risk of eviction, further exacerbating their precarious situation.

Addressing the affordable housing crisis requires a holistic approach to urban planning. This involves not only increasing the supply of affordable housing units but also ensuring that these units are integrated into well-planned neighbourhoods with access to essential services and amenities.

Public-private partnerships can play a crucial role in bridging the housing gap. By leveraging private sector expertise and investment, more efficient and scalable housing solutions can be developed.

Incentives such as tax breaks and subsidies can encourage private developers to invest in very affordable housing projects. Comprehensive policy reforms are needed to create an enabling environment for affordable housing.

The challenges of affordable housing and the impact of rapid urbanisation on Accra's most vulnerable population are multifaceted and deeply intertwined. Addressing these issues requires concerted efforts from all stakeholders, including government, private sector, civil society and the communities themselves.

By adopting a collaborative and inclusive approach, Accra can move towards a future where everyone has access to safe, affordable and dignified housing.

Boakye Kyerewaa Sarah, 
University of Media, Art and Communication-IJ ( UNIMAC-IJ),
E-mail: [email protected]

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