Travelling Through the Densu Delta: Location, Place and Space in the Waterscape

  • Fanny Frick
Part of the Human-Environment Interactions book series (HUEN, volume 6)


In Greater Accra, Ghana, pressures on formerly undeveloped land increase with rising demand for land as a resource for housing development. Land–water interactions create a waterscape inflicted by risk: ongoing development negatively impacts downstream communities as it reduces the natural capacity of local wetlands to regulate high discharge levels and eventually leads to flooding. The absence of water and sanitation infrastructure exacerbates flood-related risks, and the conversion of land surface changes ecosystem functions, which further contributes to flooding and water pollution. The purpose of this contribution is to explore material and spatial socionatural land–water interactions that are shaping the Densu Delta waterscape. Dynamics in space in the waterscape are explored through the lens of competition over land- and water-use control at different sites along the flow of the lower Densu Delta. In the case study area, urban development is both a cause of flood risk and a driver of risk reduction. As well-off areas gradually become served with basic infrastructure, less affluent communities along the road also experience less flooding and improved access to coping strategies. Competition over access to land thus often becomes a struggle over infrastructure. As a result of these ongoing processes, the nature of competition over land and water (use) is constantly changing in space, time and scale. Both land and water are unstable, fluid resources. The results show that competition between actors over the ownership of land is played out at a local level, between traditional authorities and individuals. Competition over the use of land by contrast is played out between local interest groups interested in further development on the one hand and, on the other hand, governmental authorities at city and national level intending to preserve the land from being developed. International interests including ecosystem conservation, investment in land for development and industrial production mediate the competition over both land and the use of water.


Ghana Infrastructure Flooding Fluid resources Competition 



This research has been (partly) funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) under the (project funding) reference number 01 LN 1316 A and Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung under the funding reference number P105800. The paper is a contribution to THESys Summer School. I would like to thank Esinam Attipoe, Esther Dansu-Wiredu, Martin Oteng-Ababio and Kofi Owusu for their invaluable comments in interpreting my findings and all interview partners in the Densu Delta for sharing their knowledge and experiences with me.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Climate Change and Sustainable Development Lab & Geography DepartmentHumboldt-Universität zu BerlinBerlinGermany
  2. 2.Integrative Research Institute on Transformations of Human-Environment Systems (IRI THESys)Humboldt-Universität zu BerlinBerlinGermany

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