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Over five million Ghanaians living in slums – UN

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Sodom and Gomorrah3Nearly 5.35 million Ghanaians, 37.9 per cent of Ghana’s total urban population, live in slums, according to United Nations statistics.

The figures, current as of 2014, may well be an underestimation of the present situation, as the number of slum dwellers in Ghana and sub-Saharan Africa has been on an upward trajectory for the past 25 years.

According to the 2016 African Economic Outlook launched recently in the Zambian capital Lusaka during the African Development Bank’s (AfDB) annual meetings, more than half of Ghana’s population now live in urban areas compared with 30 per cent at independence, and the urbanisation rate, with its attendant problems is projected to reach 72 per cent by 2035.

The report by the AfDB, UNDP, and UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) noted that there are signs that Ghanaian cities are facing considerable challenges with land use, infrastructure, critical services like housing, sanitation and transportation and the absence of gainful and productive employment opportunities, especially for the youth.

“The critical policy challenge has been to ensure orderly and sustainable spatial development, co-ordination and planning, and measures to enable metropolitan and municipal authorities to secure adequate financing for infrastructure and services,” the report said of Ghana.

According to statistics by the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN Habitat), the number of urban slum dwellers in Ghana rose from 3.57 million at 1990, to 4.47 million in the year 2000 and a little over 4.84 million at 2010.

UN Habitat’s 2016 World Cities Report noted, Ghana’s housing challenges, positing that the informal sector provides up to 90 per cent of urban housing in Ghana, which usually meets its criteria to be designated a slum.

In contrast with the real numbers, the percentage of slum dwellers among Ghana’s urban population has been on the decline.

The proportion of slum dwellers among Ghana’s total urban population which was 65.5 per cent at 1990, fell to 52.1 per cent at 2000 and 40.1 at 2010, before falling again to 37.9 per cent at 2014.

Consistent with a World Bank study which found that the percentage of Africans in poverty had fallen while the numbers had increased, the percentage of slum dwellers in the urban population of  sub-Saharan Africa has fallen while their numbers have risen.

Slum dwellers constituted 70 per cent of the urban population at 1990, 61.7 per cent as at 2010 and 55.9 per cent in 2014.

Their actual numbers however rose from 93.2 million at 1990 to 128.43 million in 2000 and 183.19 million at 2010. As of 2014, an estimated 200.67 million urban dwellers in sub-Saharan Africa lived in slums.

By Emmanuel Odonkor

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