Using Enumerations for Upgrading: Namibia to Cape Town Learning Exchange

Namibia to Langrug

By Namibia Housing Acton Group (NHAG) & Shack Dwellers Federation of Namibia (SDFN)

The below report refers to an exchange that took place from 6 – 8 March 2013. 

Purpose of the Exchange:

The exchange was initiated by the Namibia Housing Action Group (NHAG), supporting NGO for the Shack Dwellers Federation of Namibia (SDFN), in order to expose municipal officials, the federation members and the NGO itself to upgrading as a result of an enumeration process. The municipal officials and community members on the exchange are directly or indirectly involved in the Community Land Information Program (CLIP), Namibia’s version of the enumeration process. Upgrading as a result of this enumeration process has not yet taken place. Cape Town and Stellenbosch provided a great platform for the exchange delegates to learn and influence a change in mind-set and the promotion of a bottom up approach to planning procedures in their local authorities and influence national government policy in the future.

Langrug Site Visit, Stellenbosch: 

The exchange started off with a site visit to Langrug informal settlement in Stellenbosch. Trevor, a community leader, explained the outcome of the survey to the delegation: 

“Mapping is done in the community to identify all the issues that the settlement is faced with. Alfred from the ISN ‘two years back, enumeration showed the community that they can talk to the municipality. The leadership for the enumeration is divided into sections, with each one having a subject to focus on; from health, social issues and mapping. The lawsuit form the Rupert family brought about the presentation of the needs analysis of the community to the municipality. With the enumeration we focus on building up people so they can build communities. Through the enumeration a working team was created, 16 families were relocated within the settlement. The communities have taken the ownership of their own development and the municipality added value; the current projects in the settlements are the outcome of a needs analysis. Community members are encouraged to make small contributions to get access to development. The important outcome of the enumeration was that it helped the team get the numbers to request for development in the area; especially the grey water runaway passages build by the community. As the enumeration provided a clear view of the people in the area that are affected by different issues, support groups have been formed for health issues. The washroom facility was one of the main outcomes from the project, the community members are assisting in the construction and small contributions will have to be made by the members for the sustaining and usage of the facility. The mapping will also assist the community in the re-blocking process.” 

There was also a short introductory meeting with the Stellenbosch Municipality to give an overview of the relationship that has developed between the community and the municipality.

Namibia to Langrug

Mshini Wam settlement, Cape Town

The community facilitators from the Informal Settlement Network (ISN) showed the delegation around, explaining the process of re-blocking and the benefits it brought and will bring in the future. Since the structures have been re-arranged there are clear pathways for the community members to easily move around the settlement. The creation of space between the clusters formed provides space for the municipality to be able to bring services in the future as you can see in the photo below. The clusters have been set up in such a way that all the households, doors and windows are facing each other, so as to provide security among the households from possible intruders. Within clusters there are small gardens.

Lessons learnt on the exchange: 

  • Municipality’s role in the delivery of services through the use of surveys and partnership.
  • Projects initiated by the community through enumerations.  The norm for Namibia is that communities complete the enumerations, present it to the local authorities with the hope their development needs will be made a priority in planning. Through the exchange we learned that we could push for our own programs in the community, such as the establishment of support groups and the community contribution to facilities.
  • There is a need to have agreements signed with the local authorities in order to have a greater understanding of the roles and responsibilities when it comes to involving the community in upgrading.
  • The budgeting system of the Stellenbosch municipality provided a clear picture on how to prioritize funds for communities involved in upgrading
  • Communities pushing the local authority for an upgrading plan to be jointly developed.

 The relationships developed on the exchange are important as now the different local authorities have an in-depth understanding of the possible outcomes of enumerations. The federation members and the local authority officials interacted on the exchange thus creating an opportunity to foster an “open door approach” with local government which could lead to important meetings around enumerations and settlement upgrading.

Impacts of the exchange on projects and relationships in Namibia:

  • The federation members will start working on programs with the community to promote upgrading options. This will change the normal procedure of always waiting for the municipality to deliver on upgrading. Communities will start working on programs to support each other.
  • Planning the layout with the Gobabis municipality to re-block Freedom square (Damara block) informal settlement
  • Municipality of Grootfontein to find an approach to involving the community in settlement development programs and signing an agreement with the NHAG and SDFN
  • The Community development officer from Keetmanshoop to use the community approach to managing the new reception area in the town.
  • Keetmanshoop municipality to strengthen relationship with the community. Work together on finding solutions to the communities housing and service issues in informal settlements.
  • Strengthening of collaboration and cooperation on enumerations
  • Possible inclusion of the community in the Targeted Intervention Program for Employment Creation and Economic Growth (TIPEEG). 

Namibia to Langrug

Namibian Delegation. from left; Community Development Officer Gobabis, Councilor Keetmanshoop, SDFN member Keetmanshoop , Community Development Keetmanshoop, Councilor Gobabis. Back; Municipal CEO Grootfontein


Activating Social & Political Change through Community-Driven Slum Profiling

Nkanini Community Forum

By Walter Fieuw, CORC, South Africa (on behalf of SDI Secretariat)

Community-driven settlement profiling, enumerations, and spatial mapping are practices that federations associated with SDI have developed over two decades. These become valuable tools in negotiating more equitable resource flows from the public and private sector to urban poor communities. Profiling is a “top-level scan” of the most important features of the settlement, an estimation of the number of shacks, socio-economic and demographic information and access to services. It is also often times the first point of contact of the federation to a non-affiliated settlement/slum and opens a dialogue on the networking of community structures at the city level to influence city governments. Over the past two decades federations have used this tool to categorise and map out slums in cities. Countries use different questionnaires, data capturing systems, and mapping tools to reach this goal. In order to upscale this data to give a global narration based on credible and community-driven quantitative data, SDI has engaged the Santa Fe Institute, who are supporting a process of standardisation. The goal of this process is apparent upfront: To enhance the federations’ ability to generate settlement information in a standardised format for city, regional, national and global analysis, while maintaining all the social mobilisation characteristics that have made profiling a powerful tool in the first place. 

In a two-day workshop between 13 – 14 April 2013 held in Nairobi, federations from Africa and Asia came together to discuss the purposes, community structures and impact of profiling, and to chart the way forward. Jockin Arputham, president of SDI and coordinator of the National Slum Dwellers Federation of India, opened the workshop by reflecting on the progress to date:

This meeting has been called to alert and request everybody to create an action programme for the profile. We all have different questionnaires, although we say we are one family. Settlement profiles need to be captured, and we need to stay consistent in the questions we require. If the country needs more information, you need to add another page. We need one SDI questionnaire, so we can use the information globally. We want to understand what the magnitude of our power is. We want to make different cases to different audiences. We want to collaborate with all the actors speaking about land, housing, infrastructure; all the people speaking about the urban.

Enumerations Workshop

This practice first started in India where slum dwellers were exposed to slum eradication in the 1960s and ’70s. Shekar Mulyan recalled the experiences at a young age.

I was born in a Bombay slum, and composition of the settlement was that of migrant workers. My father and Jockin were the first generation leaders. I was six years old when an eviction started that changed the way we would think about organised communities.

Baba Atomic Centre owned the land where we lived. The government recognised the strategic importance of the land, and started planning a large resettlement/eviction process. Jockin was organising protests, but we were failing on all fronts. We did not have any information about of settlement, even though were engaging trade unions, government agencies, and so on. We lost the court case, and the government commanded us to move once again. 

We realised that no other community had to go through what we went through. We started thinking about ways to assist communities in similar situations, and how we can best support them. We started counting all the slums in Bombay. This happened over weekends, and there were no resources to support the process. When we compared the numbers the state put forward, and that what we collected, we saw a large discrepancy: the state was always undercounting and minimising the urban crisis.

By creating a “slum dweller perspective” on city planning processes through the practice of profiling informal settlements, groups networking at the city level have better information on their position in the city. City governments often view informal settlements as being “black holes” of demands on state resources; that poor people don’t contribute to the resource base and demand more services and social allowances and grants. This false belief often diverges development capital from poor neighbourhoods towards middle and upper classes, believing that the cost of such infrastructure investments will be recovered through a larger tax base. In this way, cities become more divided, more unequal and the chance of poverty alleviation is seen as a trickle down effect from the market, which has been proven to be untrue.

Alternative views on the organisation and vibrancy challenge these (neoliberal) assumptions of city building. Poor people operate in an economic and social structure that is beyond the control of the state. Here jobs are created, livelihood networks are established, crisis committees respond to disasters, and people build cities from the bottom up. Federations associated to SDI are generating critical information that builds these counter-hegemonic views of the urban poor, rendering a rich and diverse picture of the productive life of slums and slum dweller communities.

Enumerations Workshop

Enkanini, Stellenbosch, South Africa Settlement Profile based on Enumeration Map

The experience of the Homeless People’s Federation of Malawi speaks directly to these points as Mphatso Njunga, a federation leader, reflected at the workshop:

We are also using our profiling process to understand the budgeting processes in cities, and we are pushing the government to open up participatory spaces to influence the allocation of budgets. In Blantyre, we were never aware of special budgets to development infrastructure in informal settlements, and now we are more involved. We are also working with universities around planning for upgrading. The profiling helps us to categorise the most pressing needs, and create an action plan.

Enumerations Workshop

Moving beyond the influence on state resources towards building critical mass of community capacity and social capital, the experience of the Homeless People’s Federation of Tanzania inspired a lot of discussion between the federations.

I am from a slum in Dar es Salaam and I have been involved in enumerations since the federations started. We started in 2005, which focused on mobilising savings schemes. The SDI team assisted us to build the template questionnaire, and they mobilised two groups. In 2006, we did another enumeration, which was spurred by eviction threats. The government played up the tenants and the occupants against one another, and wanted to evict last mentioned group. The Kenyan team helped us with numbering, measuring plots, and capturing data. (Husua, federation coordinator)

Once communities have generated sufficient “critical mass” and information about slums, alternative democratic spaces can emerge in which the federation has an influence on the flow of resource which determines whether cities become more pro-poor. Brenda from the Zambian federation recalled their working partnerships with government’s structure.

We network with the government’s ward development committee (WDC) and get introduced to the community. The WDC plays an important role in making bridges between the formal and the informal.

We have collected 139 settlement profiles on the total number of 255 slums. This spreads over three cities. Working with the NGO we collect and analyse the data, clean it and process it, and then share it from the bottom up: the community, WDC, city and national minister.

The federations closed the two day meeting on reflecting on the way going forward. Countries agree to a 2 month and 6 months action plan to prioritise profiling in cities. SDI will continue to track the progress and application of this new and emerging system for collecting slum profiles.

Information is Power: Ashaiman Residents Drive Profiling in Greater Accra, Ghana

Ashaiman, Accra

By Barbara Torresi, People’s Dialogue Ghana


Wednesday 16 May 2012 was a glorious day for the citizens of Ashaiman, a town in Greater Accra, since after months of careful preparations the spatial component of a multi-pronged Cities Alliance programme called Land, Services, and Citizenship (LSC) was finally kicked off. The Ghana Urban Poor Federation’s (GHAFUP) mandate with regard to this SDI-backed initiative consists of profiling all the slums in the Greater Accra Metropolitan Region (GAMA), an exercise that will provide communities with in-depth knowledge of their own constituencies and a strong tool with which to negotiate settlement and poverty reduction interventions with both government and private stakeholders.

One of the reasons that made Accra and its satellite municipalities appealing to international donors is the existence of a strong local federation which, through concerted efforts to organise its constituencies into a cohesive force, has been successfully lobbying against the twin scourges of forced evictions and deteriorating living conditions for over a decade. Currently the country’s shining beacon for the pursuants of bottom-up development is the mammoth settlement of Old Fadama – aka Sodom and Gomorrah for its now fast withering detractors – which in the space of a few years has managed to transform its reputation from that of a biblical hotbed of crime into a flagship example of grassroots power.


Ashaiman, Accra

Profiling Ashaiman

But while all the attention was focused on this mud-and-tin spatial incongruity a stone’s throw from Accra’s CBD, away from the spotlight and unbeknown to most, another expansive slum community had been following Old Fadama’s proactive approach to self-betterment by engaging a historically hostile government into upgrading discussions. In this case, however, negotiations were facilitated by the fact that the slum in question is a municipality in its own right, recently born as an autonomous administrative division out of what some describe, with a typically Ghanaian penchant for biblical references, as the rotten rib of the formerly prosperous port of Tema. Originally conceived as a commuter neighbourhood for the workers of Ghana’s premier dockyard, and following rising unemployment levels in the 2000s, Ashaiman slowly morphed into the epitome of tropical urban blight, a dusty shackland where as many as 90% of households meet UN-Habitat’s criteria for the definition of a slum. In numbers, this translates into approximately 300,000 of the municipality’s estimated 340,000 inhabitants living without water and sanitation or occupying overcrowded, ramshackle structures with little ability to withstand the vagaries of West African weather.

Yet, Ashaiman is a lively, buzzing, and tight-knit collection of communities with a thriving informal economy, a harmonious environment that has favoured the establishment of a local arm of GHAFUP rivalling, for strength and cohesiveness, its counterpart in Old Fadama. Thanks to the ingenuity and, to an extent, the more favourable tenure situation of the city’s constituent communities, the Ashaiman Federation has been able to roll out an impressive array of upgrading projects, ranging from a 47-unit, mixed-use housing development to a citywide upgrading programme whose ambitious goal is to install private toilets in 100 households. All these initiatives, which were facilitated by low-interest loans from SDI and incentivised by a budding partnership with the local municipality, rely heavily on the existence of strong savings collectives and the willingness of the residents of Ashaiman to contribute to their own socio-economic upliftment.

To return to our story, on a sunny Wednesday morning a fifteen-strong, gender equal delegation consisting of settlement profilers, opinion leaders, and assembly members, congregated for the first of a series of focus groups designed to uncover facts and figures related to the eight most severely deprived communities in the municipality of Ashaiman. The focus groups, which were facilitated by Mensah Owusu, a programme manager from the local support NGO (People’s Dialogue), and Charles Zuttah Chartey, a GHAFUP leader, were structured as day-long workshops designed to provide participants with the opportunity to thoroughly unpack issues as diverse as the number of stand pipes in each settlement and the literacy level of the population. According to Halid Alhassan, one of the leading members of the Ashaiman Federation, the exercise was very well received by the residents, which perceived it as a great opportunity to involve the local government into the management of their living environment.

The second phase of this profiling exercise consists in the validation of the physical data from the focus groups. To this end, dedicated mapping teams are currently walking the streets of Ashaiman to localise, with the aid of GPS technology, infrastructures like public toilets and stormwater channels as well as essential services like schools, creches, and clinics. The reasoning behind this exercise is that the spatial representation of a settlement’s infrastructure is a valuable add-on to narrative profiling since it can help stakeholders determine where new facilities are needed the most.

While the Ashaiman profilers are busy with this pilot study, the other programme beneficiaries, namely the cities of Tema, Accra, and Ledzokuku-Krowor (LEKMA), are following in their leading sister’s footsteps by exploring their own community-held knowledge through roundtables and focus groups, which will be followed by infrastructure and service mapping once all the socio-economic data has been gathered. Completion of the LSC programme is expected for the first quarter of 2013, after which it will be extended to the remaining GAMA municipalities of Ga South, Ga East, Ga West, and Adenta.


Informal traders in Ashaiman

Information is Power

But why is this initiative so important? Firstly, it generates awareness within a community and raises the profile of the urban poor. A prime example of how self-administered census-type surveys can change people’s perception of a slum is provided by the parable of Old Fadama, which ascended from the pits of being branded “a menace in Accra” and a “catastrophe waiting to happen,” to the heights of mediatic praise after the community took the lead in the implementation of a desilting project designed to mitigate the impact of its booming population on the surrounding eco-system. What enabled such a productive partnership between government and landless dwellers was a string of SDI-backed enumerations that, since 2004, have been projecting into the public domain the image of a cohesive community that is part and parcel of the urban habitat.

One of the biggest challenges faced by slum dwellers all over the world is in fact the stigma attached to living in an environment that is routinely depicted as an impenetrable jungle of ignorance, sloth, and self-inflicted deprivation. As Grace, a long term resident of Old Fadama, explains: “people blame us for where we live [and] think that we are criminals or beggars [just] waiting for a handout”. Yet nothing could be farther from the truth, since according to the latest enumeration a staggering 96% of Old Fadama’s residents are gainfully employed as traders in the nearby Agbogbloshie market or as small business owners in the settlement itself. The power of profiling and enumerations lies thus in their ability to open up “the slum universe” to the world, to humanise the mysterious “other” and ultimately to portray slum dwellers as valuable players in the city’s economy.

Secondly, profiling highlights a community’s most urgent needs in a format that can be used to leverage funds for upgrading; moreover, when the exercise is conducted at a regional scale it allows settlements to be classified according to their deprivation level. Therefore, it is hoped that the efforts being undertaken in GAMA will allow interventions to be prioritised and directed at those most in need. In Halid’s concluding words: “we are very satisfied with the way our communities are driving the process and we hope that the information [we are acquiring] will give us the power to engage the assembly [into a constructive dialogue] to solve the problems that affect our residents [the most]”.


Why Enumeration Counts: Documenting by the Undocumented

Women are gathered around a paper with squares on it talking.

Women and men from Pupo community, southern Thailand arrange squares, representing house plots, on paper to visualise how they could group dwellings together. Credit: Chawanad Luansang.

**Cross-posted from IIED Blog** 

By Sheela Patel, SDI Secretariat / SPARC 

Around one in seven people around the world live in informal settlements in urban areas. These settlements – sometimes referred to as slums or shantytowns – lack not only good provisions for water, sanitation and basic services, they are also often deliberately left out of official surveys and maps. As a result, their inhabitants rarely have official identity documents, or other official papers confirming their address and therefore their right to live there.

For residents, having no official documents often means being denied connections to piped water supplies and sewers, and not having access to services such as household waste collections, local policing, and even schooling and/or health care. It often means no possibility of opening a bank account, obtaining insurance or getting on the voters’ register.

If someone has an address and has been counted in a city survey, with documents to prove it, this suggests they (and their neighbourhood) are considered part of the legal city. A legal address can also provide some protection against their house being bulldozed or, should it be destroyed, of getting some compensation.

Truly participatory documentation?

Clearly documentation is important, but what is collected and how it is collected is also crucial. While many development interventions and the surveys associated with them are often said to be participatory, many are not. Assessing participation in documentation should include an assessment of whether inhabitants:

  • are involved in setting the questions being asked to them
  • have ownership of the information generated from the survey and
  • can use the knowledge that the research, surveys and data collection produces for their own discussions of priorities and in their negotiations with local governments

Based on these three assessment criteria, many documentation processes calling themselves participatory would come up short.    

Community-led documentation

People living in informal settlements are well aware of the benefits of documentation and are now carrying out enumerations and mapping their own settlements as a result. This truly participatory work is described in case studies from Ghana, Kenya, India, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Thailand, Uganda and Zimbabwe in the new issue of the journal Environment and Urbanization.

In Zimbabwe, community-driven settlement mapping and enumeration in Magada, a large informal settlement in Epworth, just outside the country’s capital, Harare, has brought about plans for major changes. The process facilitated an agreement between the residents and their community organizations, and local and national government to work together to improve the conditions, for example, of the settlement’s road layout and water and sanitation systems. The process also provided the maps and data needed to implement this work.

It’s the first time that a local government has agreed to support ‘upgrading’ or improvement works, and it’s the first settlement plan in the country to include meaningful participation by residents in articulating their priorities and in influencing the design. The work to map and number each plot was undertaken by teams that included residents, supported by members of the Zimbabwe Homeless People’s Federation. For more details, see the paper by Beth Chitekwe-Biti, Patience Mudimu, George Masimba Nyama and Takudzwa Jera.

The National Slum Dwellers Federation of Uganda enumerated informal settlements in five cities where 200,000 people are living. This work developed the skills and capacity of Federation members carrying out the enumerations and mapping, which in turn supported the planning and implementation of upgrading work by federation, local and national government agencies. Read the full paper by Jack Makau, Skye Dobson and Edith Samia for further information.

In Ghana, community-driven enumerations were undertaken in Old Fadama, the largest informal settlement in Accra, whose residents have long been threatened with eviction. Three enumerations have been done to show politicians and civil servants the scale of economic activities carried out in the settlement, and its importance for the city’s economy as a whole. The enumerations changed the city government’s perspective on informal settlements and helped shape policy away from forced evictions towards participatory relocations or rehabilitating the settlement. The enumerations also increased the residents’ confidence to engage with city government. For more details, see the paper by Braimah R Farouk and Mensah Owusu.

In South Africa, the survey and enumeration held in Joe Slovo, an informal settlement of about 8,000 inhabitants in Cape Town, showed the likely negative impacts of a proposed resettlement on the residents. Many residents worked nearby and, if moved further out of the city, would have faced difficulties paying for transportation. The enumeration – which revealed that the population of Joe Slovo was much smaller than expected – helped open up the possibility of redeveloping the existing settlement. The data collected is now being used to facilitate this work, including improving the settlements’ sanitation systems. For more details, see the paper by Carrie Baptist and Joel Bolnick.

The Shack Dwellers Federation of Namibia has carried out enumerations and mapping in all the country’s informal settlements. The scale of the work sets a precedent – more than 500,000 people live in the settlements without secure land tenure. The residents were supported to carry out detailed enumerations and mapping to identify development priorities and to provide the information needed for development initiatives. For more details, see the paper by Anna Muller and Edith Mbanga.

A federation of women’s savings groups from the city of Cuttack, Orissa state, India has surveyed and mapped all 331 of the cities’ informal settlements. Meetings with residents were held to create a profile of each of the settlements, and Global Positioning System devices were used to map out settlement boundaries. This information has helped provided the local government with accurate digital maps of the settlements, and has influenced plans to upgrade the slums. For more details, see the paper by Avery Livengood and Keya Kunte.

Sharing learning

Similar tools and methods as those outlined above are being used in many other cities around the world by different federations of slum/shack dwellers. These federations, and the local NGOs that work with them, are members of Shack/Slum Dwellers International (SDI). These community-led documentation processes have become a core practice of the federations – along with supporting community-managed savings groups, and federation exchanges to see and learn from each other’s work. Many of the peer exchanges have involved community leaders experienced in community-led documentation visiting groups in other cities or nations to share their experiences on how this can be done. So, the groundwork is being laid for further community-led documentation of urban informal settlements in the future.

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.