Manenberg Backyarders: Doing What We Can, with What We Have, Where We Are


By Charlton Ziervogel, CORC/SDI Secretariat 

These are the words that epitomize the approach the Western Cape Backyarders Network (WCBN) has towards solving the problems that exist within backyarder communities in Cape Town. But how do you build momentum in a community that has had a history of fragmented approaches to solving its numerous problems?  The answer for Manenberg has been both simple in its execution and complex in the processes followed to get to where it is today.  Various community organisations at work in Manenberg met recently at the People’s Centre at a gathering organized by the WCBN in conjunction with the Informal Settlement Network (ISN) to review the work being done to improve the lives of backyarders in the area.

Organizing the Community

Patsy Daniels, chairperson of the Manenberg Development Coordinating Structure (MDCS) explained the history of community organization within Manenberg.  She described how organisations within Manenberg have been competing for funds, resources and exposure, which has seen a very disjointed approach to solving the area’s problems. The role of the MDCS was to provide a coordinated structure for organisations to work together and has provided the platform for the WCBN to start making a real impact on the lives of the backyard dwellers of Manenberg.

Melanie Manuel of the WCBN highlighted the plight of people living in backyard shacks across Cape Town and brought into sharp contrast the unique set of problems faced by slum dwellers who are effectively hidden from the public eye. She explained that with the help of the Community Organisation Resource Centre (CORC) and its links to Slum Dwellers International (SDI), the rituals of enumeration and savings were being utilized to begin an upgrading initiative with Manenberg backyarders as well as some of the most overcrowded rental stock houses in the area.  The plan of action did not end here, however, and the approach being followed by the organisations tasked with looking after the housing sector in Manenberg included a multi-facetted method, which would seek to draw in various other sections of the community.

Yulene Waldeck, a member of the WCBN and Manenberg Community Management Services (COMS), then took the gathering through the proposals for a multi-purpose centre, which would be located on a vacant piece of land.  The centre would provide accommodation for the elderly, drug abuse counseling facilities as well as skills training and support to young mothers who often lived in overcrowded conditions and had no place to go when facing the pressures of motherhood.  In addition, the centre would serve as offices for the organisations working with backyard dwellers and give the community a first port of call in addressing the complex issues around backyard living and informality.

Savings and Enumerations

Savings served as the entry point for the work of the Federation of the Urban Poor (FEDUP) in Manenberg.  Naeema Swartz of the Manenberg Slum Dwellers explained that even in a community like Manenberg where people are very poor, the need to save is very important.  She emphasized that the discipline of savings was key to help many backyard dwellers in the area upgrade and improve their current living conditions.  The principle here was to develop the ethos of self-reliance in addressing the concerns of their own community.  Gail Julius of the WCBN took the opportunity to highlight another of SDI’s key rituals, that being enumerations and explained how this tool served as an excellent mobilizing and learning tool for the community of Manenberg.  The enumeration helped the various role-players understand that overcrowding was one of the biggest concerns facing residents.  In one instance the enumeration team had encountered a home where 22 people were sharing a one-bedroom house.  The enumerations highlighted the difficulty backyarders had with regards to accessing basic services like sanitation, electricity and water.  They would often have to pay for access to these services from the tenants of the rental housing stock. This meant that if there were issues with the tenants the backyarders had no grounds for legal recourse as the City had agreements with the tenants and not with the backyarders, effectively leaving them in limbo.

Henrietta and Lezhaun, members of a family of ten living in an overcrowded one-bedroom house in Manenberg, explained that they have been on the waiting list since 1987.  Compounding their overcrowded circumstances was the additional fact that they are both blind.  This family in particular raised awareness around the plight of many families where 2nd to 3rd generation members, having no place to move to, simply stayed in overcrowded conditions.  In many cases, situations like these have led to the establishment of backyard accommodation which has been the only viable option for people who did not want to move out of Manenberg or lose the social security net that familial networks in the area provided.

Washiela Baker of the Caring Organization, who has been active in community work in Manenberg for over 25 years, stated that she was shocked at the findings of the enumeration.  Being able to go into the backyards and witness for herself the conditions people were living under galvanized her to focus more effort towards these people who were hidden from the public gaze.

Providing realistic solutions

The enumeration thus guided the community organisations in the housing sector of the MDCS towards an approach that would seek to upgrade the living conditions of backyard dwellers by improving the dilapidated make shift structures, which thousands of residents in Manenberg find themselves living in today.  A secondary proposal looked at the opportunities that existed in demolishing old rental stock houses and building structures that used the space more efficiently to house more people.  Melanie Manual explained how the space currently occupied by a five-unit structure could be utilized to build units for eight families and include a courtyard space for children to play in safety.


Unveiling the Upgraded Shack

The main thrust of the gathering was to draw people’s attention to the dire conditions the backyarders found themselves in but at the same time highlight solutions which the community themselves could be involved in.  The gathering was invited to take a walk to the site of an upgraded shack in the Manenberg area.  Melanie explained that an agreement had been reached with the local government to allow for the upgrading of current structures as long as correct procedures were followed. Backyard shacks housing family of the tenants of council houses could be upgraded provided the tenants were in agreement.  This simple step towards an upgrading agenda will mean that thousands of backyarders in Manenberg will finally have the opportunity to live in structures that provide shelter from the harsh Cape Town elements.  The upgraded shack was built by an NGO called iKhayalami who specialize in affordable homes and alternative technologies for the urban poor.  As people gathered round the new structure a discernable buzz could be felt sweeping through the crowd.  Shouts of encouragement and praise rang out as Ms. Sandra Joubert was presented with the key to her new home.  To outsiders it would not seem like much, but for this resident of Manenberg who had spent many a winter battling flooding, a leaking roof and the bitter cold, it meant a home that gave her not only shelter but dignity.  As the guests who had been invited to view the shack dispersed, a crowd of local residents remained.  Their interest had been sparked and inquiries were being made as to how they could access this new kind of shack.

Since the unveiling, Ms. Joubert has had numerous visitors to her upgraded shack all wanting to know how they could get their own shacks upgraded.  The WCBN with the help of CORC, FEDUP, ISN and Ikhayalami had clearly struck a chord with the community and upgrading appears to be the more realistic and viable alternative to the never ending waiting list which seemed to offer no hope for the backyarders.



Building Partnerships Between the Urban Poor & the City


**Cross-posted from the SA SDI Alliance Blog**

By Walter Fieuw, CORC

“This is a dream come true in bringing City Councils and communities around a table to talk about possibilities of city-wide informal settlement upgrading,” said Jerry Adlard, the facilitator of the 9th November learning event organised by South African, Namibian and Malawian poor people’s movements aligned to Shack/Slum Dwellers International. Paired with these words, was the call for honest reflection on the objective, structure, achievements, lessons learnt and challenges of unfolding partnerships in the cities of Cape Town, Stellenbosch, Ethekwini, Ekurhuleni, Johannesburg, Windhoek and Lilongwe. The learning event was preceded by two days of site visits to re-blocking, sanitation and relocation projects in the City of Cape Town and Stellenbosch Municipality.

How do various actors implicated in urban development build partnerships to ensure pro-poor and inclusive cities? Contemporary African cities are juxtaposed with multiple layers of social, political, economic and environmental realities, which in many ways are aggravated by its colonial past. On the one hand, cities are the spaces of aspiration, innovation and drivers of social change, and on the other, social polarisation, poverty, conflict and environmental degradation narrate the conditions of large portions of city dwellers. In an age that is characterised by urbanisation, said to transform the cities of Africa, Asia and Latin America, there is arguably never been a time where effective partnerships are more needed.

In many cases, slum dwellers are taking the lead in building partnerships with local authorities with the view to significantly influence the way slum upgrading is conceptualised and operationalised. The full participation of slum dwellers in upgrading programmes is central to meeting the outcomes of sustainable human settlements, tending towards social (and political) change. For instance, slum dwellers of the Homeless People’s Federation of Malawi influenced the Lilongwe City Council’s bureaucracy through its large scale enumeration project which involved churches, tribal chieftaincies and other community based organisations (Lilongwe slums span municipal boundaries and averages in sizes of 50,000 residents). This inclusive project resulted in a shift on the part of the City Council from treating urban development as homogeneous to rural development. The establishment of the Informal Settlement Unit, a department which reports directly to the Mayor, was the result of effective lobbying on the part of the urban poor. This partnership illustrates the limitations of technocrats and the possibilities of communities initiating their own developmental priorities.

In Windhoek, the partnership between the Shack Dwellers Federation of Namibia (SDFN), City of Windhoek and the Polytech is challenging the limitations to transformation implicated in the inherited colonial land use management norms. Space for policy innovation is opening where the contribution and full participation of informal settlements are at the plinth.

Partnerships unfolding in South Africa through the Informal Settlement Network (ISN) and Federation of the Urban Poor (FEDUP) were also discussed at length. Some of the overarching achievements to date have included pilot projects in Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg and the mining belt in Ekurhuleni whereby communities successfully re-blocked (e.g. Ruimsig (CoJ) and Sheffield Road (CoCT)), installed drainage (Masilunghe (CoCT)), and resettled (Langrug (Stellenbosch) and Lwazi Park (CoCT)). Innovation through upgrading is challenging the enduring (mis)conceptions associated to the subsidised housing paradigm which only looked after the interests of the nucleus family. The SA Alliance’s aspirations for establishing city-wide Urban Poor Funds – funding facilities that support the initiatives of poor communities – have also partially realised when communities successfully leveraged funds from the Stellenbosch Municipality in financing the relocation project and associated service provision.

The institutionalisation of partnerships for city-wide upgrading initiatives is underway. Reports were heard from city officials and community leaders of respective cities. As communities penetrate the seemingly perceived ‘iron towers’ of city bureaucracy and build effective partnerships that influence budgetary allocation and prioritisation, the emphases are shifting from ‘control’ to ‘participation’.

Delegates argued that if the partnership cannot affect political will, for instance to transform the ward councillor structure (in the SA case), then there is no real power to promote the upgrading agenda. One of the Namibian delegates remarked:

“There is a problem to talk about the poor’s ‘self-reliance’ when the issue actually lies with the state’s orientation. Political space is opened to engage around delivery priorities and this is a two-way process; both the state needs to be held accountable, and citizens, demanding basic human rights, need to be proud and organised. One of the main reasons why the partnerships fail to deliver is that the departments don’t understand the difference between upgrading and housing delivery”.

Change by Design: SDI at the Smithsonian


By Ben Bradlow, SDI Secretariat

From a presentation at the Smithsonian exhibit Design with the Other 90%:CITIES, United Nations, NY, NY

Poor people are the most revolutionary designers in the world today. It may sound ridiculous to say this about people who are living cheek by jowl, without water, electricity or a toilet to shit in. People who are living without secure employment or the secure knowledge that their home will not be destroyed by the police in the middle of the night. But it’s within the extreme constraints of social exclusion and poverty that a new way of designing homes, neighborhoods, and cities is emerging.

I want to use two stories to suggest one broader lesson to rethink the significance of design in the world: Design can be seen as a political tool to support the poor to bridge the divides that exist in cities in the Global South. 

There’s an area in Cape Town called Philippi, which has many informal neighborhoods with shacks almost literally on top of each other. The South African government has built houses for some of the people who live in this area. But like all cities throughout the country, the informal shack settlements continue to grow. Government estimates that today there are approximately 2600 informal settlements nationwide.

Along Sheffield Road in Phillippi, there is a small neighborhood of 167 shack households. The shacks there were locked in a tight configuration where the only way to walk through the area was through a narrow maze of dark alleys. There were no toilets and only a couple water points.  This land was reserved for future widening of the road. Therefore, the city government had no plans to develop the area.  

But the community used design as a tool to (1) organize itself, (2) plan its space, and (3) negotiate with the city. Led by the women in the community, they began saving small amounts of money. They also performed their own socioeconomic household survey and drew a map of the existing neighborhood layout. These residents also worked with a community architect from a local NGO called the Community Organisation Resource Centre, or CORC, to design a method for rearranging the shacks in the settlement to open up public space. They discussed the existing social relationships that existed between neighbors and agreed to arrange the neighborhood into clusters of about 15 shacks. In the meantime, the Cape Town city government, impressed by the initiative of the community, decided to bring toilets and water infrastructure to the neighborhood. This was despite the fact that, according to the city’s own rules, no development should occur on a road reserve.

On the day when the first cluster of 15 shacks moved, the change was remarkable. The cluster was arranged around a common courtyard. That very same day, the women in the cluster erected a washing line spanning the courtyard. Now, when I go to Sheffield Road nearly the entire neighborhood is now organized in this way. Usually children are playing and parents are chatting outside, looking after their children with a watchful eye.

The neighborhood is a model for communities throughout the city. Communities from other settlements come to Sheffield Road to exchange lessons and strategies for upgrading their own settlements.  This network, known simply as the Informal Settlement Network, has come together and partnered with the city government to work on more than twenty such projects throughout the city. So the work of design in one neighborhood has become a seed for a city-wide process.

I have one more story of how communities have used design to build political power.  This time, I’m not talking about hundreds of people, but tens of thousands. In Nairobi, the parastatal Kenya Railways Corporation has long wanted to evict many residents of the railway slums of Kibera and Mukuru, to upgrade the railway line. This is something that is happening in many countries in Africa that want to upgrade infrastructure. The SDI-afilliated federation of slum dwellers in these neighborhoods organized residents to do a massive household survey about five years ago. This put a human face on what the Railway Company had been seeing as an inhuman mass of violence and sickness. The railway company delayed the eviction. Then, SDI facilitated a learning exchange with its affiliate federation in Mumbai, India. In the 1990s, the Indian federation surveyed approximately 30,000 informal dwellers along the railway line there. This operated as a community-driven tool for negotiating with government about both the pace and scale of relocation. Further, this information was the basis for plans to accommodate those who would be displaced.

In Mumbai, the original community maps show the history in vivid detail: who remained, who is waiting to enter permanent housing, and who is now living in housing developments that were designed and partly built by community members themselves. Back in Nairobi, after visiting the Bombay railway line, the Kenya Railways Corporation agreed that a new enumeration should take place to serve as the basis for similar plans for relocation and upgrading shelter where people already live. That activity was completed last year. The community members, armed with their own information, designs, and plans, now have a strong hand at the negotiating table with otherwise powerful interests.

So from Cape Town to Nairobi to Mumbai, ordinary poor people are using design as a tool for a political process. This is a process that changes the way politicians, government officials, the private sector, and other professionals address exclusion and poverty in cities. Often we like to make poverty a matter of “if only we could just find the right technology, the right tool, the right thing.” But poor people are demanding something more. And not just with words, but with actions. Their message is simple: Work with us. We are the solutions to our own problems.

And design is central to this. We live in a world where spatial divides of cities condemn informal neighborhoods to lack of services, transport, employment, adequate shelter, and legal rights. The lack of democracy and political inclusion in the halls of decision-making power produces this kind of exclusion. The design of the home, the neighborhood, and the city is the foundation on which ordinary poor people build networks of knowledge and political power. 

As professional architects, designers, planners, and politicians, begin to recognize the work that the poor are already doing, they will have to imagine new kinds of partnerships with organizations of the poor. These are partnerships to include the poor in institutions that can produce something other than the divided and unequal cities emerging today. The glimmers of light that exist are rooted in the actions of survival that ordinary poor people perform every day. Some are in this exhibit. These are the foundations for building new, inclusive cities.

Brazil Supports Federation Strengthening in Bolivia

Brazilian exchange to Bolivia

Leila Lopes and Marlene Silva, savers from the state of São Paulo, in Brazil, were in Cochabamba, Bolivia, from 03 to 07 October to support the Bolivian savers and the technical team of the Bolivian support NGO Red Internacional de Acción Comunitaria (Red Interaccion) – the affiliate of SDI in Bolivia – in their strategic planning for the following 3 years (2012-2014). Leila and Marlene also participated in the strategic planning carried out in Brazil, in June 2011, and along with Fernanda Lima, Institutional Development Coordinator from Rede Internacional de Ação Comunitária (Rede Interação), the savers were there to support the planning and exchange experiences on the saving groups´ work and challenges in the different countries.

For the Brazilian and Bolivian savers, it was an amazing experience to develop the strategic planning in partnership. During the first three days, a group of about 15 people (savers from Brazil and Bolivia and the members of Red Interacción) participated in several activities in order to create the strategic planning for the organization and the Bolivian savings groups. During this time, they discussed the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats faced by Red Interacción and the institutional goals and activities for the coming years.

On the fourth day, the Brazilian team went to “Districto 8”, in Cochabamba, to get a better understanding of the area and the challenges and demands of the savings groups in Bolivia. There, they participated in the meeting of two savings groups in an area called “Libertad”.

Now, the partnership between the Brazilian and Bolivian savings groups has a new step: from  16 – 19 November, savers from Cochabamba and Oruro, Bolivia will travel to Osasco and Várzea Paulista, Brazil for several activities and meetings in order to exchange experiences about the savings groups methods of organization and challenges, the relationship with the local/national government and the creation of the National Federation in the two countries.

Brazilian exchange to Bolivia

For more photographs from this exchange, visit the Flickr page.

A Decade of Struggles and Lessons in Old Fadama


By: Farouk Braimah, Executive Director, Peoples Dialogue on Human Settlements, Accra Ghana (

In 2002, the residents of Old Fadama settlement in Accra, Ghana were served an eviction notice. After losing a court battle, community members were introduced to SDI methodolgies and conducted a community survey in a last-ditch effort to stave off eviction. The community has prevented evictions for nearly a decade, and in a recent talk in New York City, the Ghanaian vice president made a committment that there would be no forced evictions there. Below is a timeline, compiled by executive director of the Ghanaian support NGO, Peoples Dialogue on Human Settlements, accounting the story of the Ghanaian federation in their fight against forced evictions. For more on the community’s struggle in Old Fadama, check out this video. 


The Centre for Public Interest Law ( CEPIL) in the year 2000 conducted a human rights fact finding mission on Old Fadama to investigate the potential violation of human rights linked to the Korle Lagoon Ecological Restoration Project (KLERP)


CEPIL fact finding report on KLERP out and under study for next steps.


On 28 May 2002, the residents of Old Fadama were served with an eviction notice by the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA). This followed the completion of series of studies and the formulation of the project know as the Korle Lagoon Ecological Restoration Project, designed to restore this vital marine and river system to a cleaner and more natural ecological state. At a public meeting that was part of the environmental and social impact assessment study (ESIA), one of the consultants conducting the study had “…urged the government to declare Old Fadama a national disaster site and resettle the people.” He said the place was the most deprived in the whole country and “…if immediate steps are not taken to resettle the people in that area, the KLERP would be a waste of resources.” The recommendations in the ESIA report were to be particularly influential in official thinking on KLERP.

In response to the eviction notice, letters of protest were written by a number of organisations (including COHRE) to the government of Ghana and the AMA. The COHRE letter outlined the international legal obligations that would be violated if the forced eviction of the Old Fadama community were to take place, and identified the following transgressions.

  1. All feasible alternatives to the planned eviction had not been considered;
  2. The  may 2002 notice had provided too little advance warning
  3. Residents had not been consulted throughout the process; and
  4. Alternative housing or adequate resettlement sites had not been provided.

In addition, the residents, with the assistance of the Centre for Public Interest Law (CEPIL) based in Accra, responded with an appeal to the High Court for an injunction to prevent the AMA from carrying out the eviction. However, on 24 July 2002, the Accra High Court rejected the community’s application and authorized the AMA to evict. There was initial intention to appeal, but for internal organizational reasons in the community, this was not followed through. Since then, there have been repeated assertions by the government that the eviction will definitely go ahead, but deadline have come and gone. The last deadline was set in January 2004, when a Minister of Tourism official was “ emphatic” in stating that “…by September this year, Old Fadama would be empty”


After the High Court ruling in 2002, the residents of Old Fadama in 2003, adopted a softer approach to dealing with their challenges of forced eviction with government by engaging in a dialogue through People’s Dialogue & Shack & Slum Dwellers International approach of using;

  1. Savings & Loans
  2. Mediation
  3. Exchanges
  4. Partnerships
  5. And community led enumerations


In 2004, the Old Fadama community started partnering and dialoguing with government through the Ministry of Water Resources, Works & Housing, Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development and the Ministry of Tourism and Diaspora Relations to find a better way of solving their challenges.

Old Fadama, was cited as a case study on the World Urban Forum II held in Barcelona, Spain on 16th September 2004, referring to forced evictions as a bad strategy in tackling squatters and slum communities.

Fighting Forced Evictions

The then Mayor of Accra Honorable Blankson committed to working with the community in the Old Fadama in Accra in finding alternative solutions.

The special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing, Miloon Kothari highlighted the fact that there enough recognition of the human right to housing by governments and local authorities, and that women’s right to housing and inheritance were not been addressed due to the culture of silence “ Why are people planning on our behalf without our involvement?” says a slum dweller from Kenya underscoring the need to consult with community in finding solutions to the issues of slums. Slum dwellers are saying, “governments need to know that they do not have to solve all the problems” The community can and is willing to work with governments to address the issue of forced evictions”

– SDI visited Ghana and supported the Old Fadama community to conduct a settlement profiling to aid the city authorities and government in its bit to resettle the residents. 

– UN Habitat designed a new facility to upgrade slums and Ghana was shortlisted as potential beneficiary 

    AGFE to Ghana


Government of Ghana, through the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development invited the UN Habitat’s Advisory Group on Forced Evictions (AGFE) to conduct a fact finding mission on the Old Fadama community and to assist government. 

UN (AGFE) sent a team from Nairobi to Ghana to meet Government and brainstorm on ways to address the challenges of Old Fadama and Ghana’s slums. 

As an AGFE member, Farouk Braimah joined the team to conduct the fact finding mission. 

Ghana was selected as SUF (Slum Upgrading Facility) global pilot country together with three other countries thus; Tanzania, Indonesia and Sri Lanka.

2005 to date, Ghana is still receiving funding and technical assistance from SUF to upgrade selected slums- Ashaiman, Amui Dzor and Takoradi as pilot.

Residents of the Old Fadama Community through the Old Fadama Development Association (OFADA) and Ghana Federation of the Urban Poor (GHAFUP) with support from People’s Dialogue on Human Settlement and SDI carried out some drainage, roads and sanitation protection works.

Old Fadama Undergoes Facelift

(Daily Graphic, Monday July 11 2005)

Squatters at the Country’s biggest slum, (Old Fadama) in Accra, have begun moves to give the slum a new face. As the reports stated;

“They have created 15 access roads through the area, together with the purchase of drainage materials at a cost of about 33 million cedis. People’s Dialogue on Human Settlement, a non-governmental organisation provided about 95% of the funds, while the rest was internally generate. In addition, the settlers will, beginning from next week, clear other settlers living along the Korle Lagoon project area and set up a task forced to protect it, as well as prevent people from dumping refunds indiscriminately to pollute the lagoon.”

The Accra Metropolitan Assembly reacted to the action of the residents with the yardstick that, they were illegal and hence had no business to develop the area. 

This was carried on the Daily Graphic, July. 2005


AMA Condemns action of Squatters at Old Fadama

(Daily Graphic July 2005) 

The Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) has condemns the action of squatters at Old Fadama in Accra to demarcate roads and plan other development activities for the including a cemetery. It said the squatters had no business in carrying out what they were doing, since their presence at them was illegal and they would be evicted. 

Mr. Philip Lamptey, the then chairman of the Environmental Management sub-committee of the AMA said in the report “A probable first option would be to ask the utility companies to stop supplying the area with utility services such as water and electricity. He said there was no need for the squatters to set-up a task force to prevent the indiscriminate dumping of refuse along the Korle Lagoon Project area, since they were not needed in the place.”

Mr. Noel Arcton- Tettey, the then PRO of AMA was also reported to have said that; NGOs were suppose to complement the role of government instead of creating problems for it. And that the action by People’s Dialogue was contrary to what was expected of it.

The Executive Director of People’s Dialogue On Human Settlement, Mr. Braimah Rabiu Farouk responded to the comments made by the AMA, stating emphatically clear that, the NGO will not do anything to undermine the work of the government, let alone create problems for it.

We will not sabotage Government- NGO
(Daily Graphic, Monday July 18, 2005) 

In this report, Mr. Braimah said the NGO would rather give government all the necessary support to improve the lives of the citizenry so as to ensure a better standard of living for all Ghanaians. Mr. Braimah explained that the move embarked upon by the squatters at Old Fadama was “not to entrench their stay at the place” but to prevent disasters from occurring and that the NGO had educated residents on the negative impact their continued stay could have on the KLERP. He posed the following questions and I quote:

“Do we have to wait for a disaster to occur at the slum for the government to set up a Sodom and Gomorrah disaster fund before we act?”

“He question whether it was for squatters to set up a task force to protect the Korle Lagoon Project on which so much money has been spend.”

The government took a second look at its current policy on squatters and slum communities (FORCED EVICTIONS) and then came out with s paradigm shift, from forced evictions to relocations.

Government haven convinced itself that, relocation was the best strategy, started processes to acquire a parcel of land at Adjin Kotoku in the Amasaman District of Accra to commence the Old Fadama Relocation Project as part of a township concept, government also initiated strategies to raise funds for the successful planning, design and implementation of the Adjin Kotoku Township Project


Government secures some funds for Old Fadama resettlement project.

Government finds 10m Euro for Sodom and Gomorrah resettlement
(The Statesman, Friday, July 21 2006)

FINALLY, residents of Old Fadama in Accra considered as one of the world’s notable slums, have every practical reason to expect a justifiable evacuation after Government has managed to find 10 million Euros to find alternative decent accommodation for them.

The Statesman also reported that; it can confirm that, the Ministry of Water Resource, Works and Housing has secured the funding commitment from KBC Bank of Belgium as necessary extension works to complete the environmental and sanitation aspect of the Korle Lagoon Ecological Restoration Project.

The Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing, Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, and the Ministry of Tourism and Diaspora Relations started interacting and holding regular development meetings with residents of the Old Fadama community to dialogue and plan on the successful implementation of the relocation project.

The Old Fadama Community welcomed the relocation project and started preparing towards it.

The government of Ghana through the Ministry of Tourism and Diapora Relations and PD attended World Urban Forum III in Vancouver on 23 June 2006- This time round to present government policy shift on squatters and slum communities from forced evictions to relocations.


In 2007 the residents of the Old Fadama community, called on the government to speed-up the implementation process of the relocation to pave way for the Korle Lagoon Restoration Project to progress.

Speed up relocation process- residents of Old Fadama cry out
Public Agenda, Monday 29, January 2007)

Squatters of Old Fadama (popularly called Sodom and Gomorrah) would like the government to speed the process of relocating them. The squatters have told this paper that they are not sure what would follow the recent catastrophic fire incident that ravaged the slum, hence if government could do anything to relocate them, they would be grateful.

P.D and the Ghana Federation of the Urban Poor conducted a base line study on Old Fadama in collaboration with the Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing, Local Government and Rural Development and Tourism and Diaspora Relations to use for the planned relocation project.

UN Habitat visited Old Fadama and pledges to support government to tackle the problem.


Meetings and preparations for the relocation project intensifies and preparatory work also continued at Adjin Kotoku.

General election clashes and violence started


Clashes in Old Fadama heighten

AMA issues an eviction notice to residents of Old Fadama

Quit by Dec; AMA cracks whip on Sodom & Gomorrah 

(Daily Graphic, July 17,2009)

“Sodom and Gomorrah, a slum within the central business district of Accra, will be no more by next December as the Accra Metropolitan Assembly say it has concluded plans to relocate residents of the place to a new site Adzen Kotoku…”

Carnage at Old Fadama

4 Killed in clash at Agbogbloshie Market 

(Daily Graphic, Wednesday, August, 26 2009)

Four men believed to be Andanis and Abudus were butchered to death at Agbogbloshie in Accra yesterday after a renewed clash between supporters of…”

Government issues another eviction threat.

Time up for Sodom and Gomorrah, Regional Minister declares 

 (Daily Graphic, Friday, September, 4 2009)

“Sodom and Gomorrah, a sprawling slum within the central business district of Accra, has been labeled a risk to national security and so should be pulled down now.”

The report indicates government has therefore taken the firm stand to evict the more than 40,000 squatters at Old Fadama without any form of compensation as earlier envisaged.

The Old Fadama Development Association (OFADA) responded with a press release to condemn the violent clash at the community and promises Government and the general public they will quickly address the issues of violence and adhere to good environmental and sanitation practices through a central task force, setting up a mediation center and watch dog committee to…

OFADA request government to return to the table to dialogue on the relocation to Adjin Kotoku as planned.

It is significant to note that, up until now, PD and the Federation has been the only recognized and dedicated voice  and force working and coordinating other interest groups for the struggles. Some organizations ,particularly, the media became very supported our the communities struggles. Amnesty International also approached PD and sought collaboration to join in the struggles ,a request we welcomed and facilitated heir entry and participation in the struggles. I must state the involvement of  groups such as amnesty Ghana and Centre for Public Interest Law and others has been very instrumental in further strengthening the negotiation power of the community. 


AMA  continued to renew threats at the least provocation and in most cases without any provocation. Peoples Dialogue and the Ghana federation continued to build their federation in the community and another significant community led enumeration conducted.

As usual the Ghana federation responded by facilitation meetings and dialogue with the Mayor Of Accra. This resulted in the Mayor of Accra requesting the Federation to conduct an enumeration to assist in the final pre and post eviction impact of the planned evictions. Besides, the City quoted 40,000 residents but the federation insisted they were more than that and the negative impact of eviction could be more devastating. The mayor then arranged a short visit between the Director of PD –Farouk and His Excellency the Vice president of Ghana-John Mahama, after which the federation was allowed to conduct another enumeration in 2009 September. The results were out in January 2010, which put the figure at 79,000.  This revelation was very useful in putting a strong case for the community and all others involved in the struggles. Not long after this, PD submitted copies of the report to the Presidency, the Mayor and other players like the UN Habitat.

All of this culminated in the Government of the day, convening a High level meeting purposely to find solutions to the problems. The federation again attended this meeting and the outcome was the establishment of a 5 -man Task force to develop a SLUM POLICY FOR GHANA.

Farouk Braimah, the Director of PD, was nominated to serve on that body and remains a member. Government demonstrated that it was actually looking for solutions and was ready to partner groups and individuals who could assist in developing a response to the problem. This intention of Government and the journey in the major position shift was started the very day the Government requested the federation to conduct the enumeration. This collaborative and anti eviction posture of Government was  given a further boast when the Government set up the High powered meeting and commissioned a 5 man Task force to find solutions to Ghana’s slums, including Old Fadama.