As of 2017, the Ghana Federation of the Urban Poor (GHAFUP) has organized 338 groups in 25 cities and towns. A few years ago in Ashaiman, Greater Accra, the federation and its partners constructed a low cost housing project for 36 families, incorporating commercial facilities and public space. The development is called the Amui Dzor Housing Project and it is managed by a community cooperative. This year, the community began to organize its members and consider how they might capitalize on the Energy Commission of Ghana’s subsidy programme for rooftop solar PV. This aims to promote renewable energy use for households but is framed as being only accessible to detached houses rather than multi-family dwellings such as Amui Dzor. The priority for the organizing was to establish whether a solar project could reduce the utility bills of Amui Dzor residents and provide a reliable source of electricity to homes and businesses.
With support from the federation support NGO People’s Dialogue and SDI, the federation began engagement with the Energy Commission to request a partnership for the solar electrification of Amui Dzor and demonstrate Ghana’s first multi-family housing facility to make use of a net metering and smart metering system. The community argued that the project would serve as a precedent-setting project for affordable low impact housing. The Energy Commission signed on with enthusiasm as did the Ashaiman Municipal Council, both agencies providing significant support to the project. The ground was set for project design and implementation.
The final project design not only reduces the energy tariffs of the cooperative, but increases their resilience to electricity tariff increases and outages. Although this project involves a building retrofit, the intention is for it to set a precedent for solar integration into all future low-income housing developments. The Amui Dzor project complements the Ghana Alliance’s efforts to extend access to household solar kits and lanterns. In all projects, the federation has trained members in solar system installation and maintenance.
The Ghana slum dweller federation efforts contribute to improved city resilience by increasing access to affordable and clean energy, improving skills and offering training in low income communities, and demonstrating effective mechanisms for partnership between communities and government.
This post is part of a series of case studies from our 2017 Annual Report titled ‘The Road to Resilience.’ Emerging from the field of ecology, ‘resilience’ describes the capacity of a system to maintain or recover from disruption or disturbance. Cities are also complex systems and a resilience framework addresses the inter- connectedness of formal and informal city futures. Moreover, it enables a nuanced reflection on the nature of shocks and chronic stressors – recognising that the latter are particularly acute in slum dweller communities and that this critically undermines the entire city’s economic, social, political, and environmental resilience.As with personal resilience, city resilience demands awareness, acknowledgment of reality, and a capacity to move beyond reactivity to responses that are proactive, thoughtful, and beneficial to the whole. The most enlightened individuals and cities will be those that understand their responsibility to the most vulnerable and to the planet. Our 2017 Annual Report showcases some of SDI’s achievements over the past year on the road to resilience. Click here for the full report.