, Volume 62, Issue 1-2, pp 147-161

Housing the Urban Poor in Twenty-First Century Sub-Saharan Africa: Policy Mismatch and a Way Forward for Ghana

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Abstract

The debate on housing the urban poor has become more sophisticated since Turner’s original ideas of self-help and self-building by the poor were introduced in the 1970s. Today, the emphasis in housing the poor is on a pluralistic approach that stresses enabling housing provision for the poor by expanding the range of providers to include government, the private sector, the poor themselves, non-governmental agencies, and cooperatives. Official housing policy in Ghana does not reflect the pluralistic approach that prevails in practitioner and academic circles. Using ethnography, this paper presents the housing experience of a typical poor family in Ghana to determine what the poor build. It highlights the obstacles the poor have to overcome to acquire the housing they want. The ethnography provides a basis upon which the mismatch between the pluralistic approach and Ghana’s housing policy can be bridged thus providing a way forward. The paper concludes by emphasizing the importance of the housing industry in poverty alleviation in Ghana.