Last week we organized a joint seminar on “Sustainable Development Goal on Water and the Implication for Ghana and Accra” with our partner institution at the University of Ghana, the Institute for Environment and Sanitation Studies (IESS). Antje Bruns visited us from Berlin and gave a keynote speech on governance and the water SDG, which was followed by presentations of IESS scholars and of ourselves. Afterwards, we had the great opportunity to discuss our first field research insights with scholars of the University of Ghana! Click here for more info.
While Lara is discovering the peri-urban areas of Accra, Rossella is exploring urban water provision via mobile providers and domestic vendors. Mobile water operators are nowadays a common way to access water. They operate 24/7 delivering water to households, institutions, construction sites and beverage companies located both in the inner city and in peri-urban areas. Water tanker operators involve different types of trucks and water-transport vehicles from large ones transporting 2000-6000 gallons to small tricycles operating at neighborhood level. A third type of truck involve so-called ´polytank-trucks´, transport trucks with one or multiple polytanks mounted on the loading area. During the coming months, Rossella will map the routes, the sources and the customers served by water tankers: Follow the truck!
The fringe of urban concentration that neither falls into the category of ‘urban’ nor into the category of ‘rural’, is called peri-urban. In Accra, many different settlement sites have emerged at the peri-urban fringe: from gated communities to high-density informal settlements mainly inhabited by poor households. Common settlement types at the peri-urban fringe of Accra are new, self-built settlements that emerge in surrounding peripheral villages. This mode of peri-urbanization creates heterogeneous spaces consisting of new residents and “original” villagers. I find these sites particularly interesting as they are built incrementally by the residents themselves, including infrastructure such as water, electricity and road networks. However, it is not mainly poor households that settle in these areas, but also higher-income households that incrementally build single family houses.
As the building process might take several years, higher-income households hire caretakers who commonly live in the unfinished building or in a smaller construction on the plot of land. Thus, they take care of the building (process) and of the land itself. Due to increased pressure on peri-urban land, but also due to weak customary and statutory land institutions, land disputes are omnipresent in Accra. In fact, caretakers are a way to secure land from multiple sales of the same plot of land. Another common way to secure land is to install signs that say ”keep off, this land is not for sale”. These signs can be found all over Accra, as Fanny already reported in her blog entry “Land”. Lara is working at the peri-urban fringe of Accra to understand the multiple ways in which residents secure their access to land in light of multi-scalar land conflicts in Accra. At the same time, she analyzes the water access strategies of residents, as these sites are not covered by the piped water network. Residents resort to multiple private water providers and to self-supply with ground- or rainwater.