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Towards an African perspective of urban sustainability: evidence from Ghana.

Anarfi, K., 2020. Towards an African perspective of urban sustainability: evidence from Ghana. Doctoral Thesis (Doctoral). Bournemouth University.

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ANARFI, Kwasi Peprah_Ph.D._2019.pdf



With over half of the world’s population living in cities, rapid urbanisation has significant implications for urban sustainable development. While urban areas drive national economies and provide opportunities for improved standards of living, they also face significant sustainable development challenges which include socio-economic inequalities, increasing poverty and informal settlements, urban sprawl, natural resource depletion and environmental degradation, and climate change impacts. Therefore, assessing the interactions between urbanisation and sustainable development at the local level is fundamentally important for guiding more sustainable urban development. There is, however, limited empirical research and understanding of the interactions between urbanisation and sustainable development in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) due to a paucity of data on urban areas. This paucity of data is further exacerbated by the lack of a theoretical framework for evaluating the interactions between urbanisation and sustainable development due to the disparate nature of the two processes. To address the challenges highlighted above, this study applies a Driver-Pressure- State-Impact-Response (DPSIR) conceptual framework to explore the relationship between urbanisation and sustainable development in the context of Ghana, in order to make recommendations for urban sustainability, and to develop a conceptual model that could facilitate decision-making for the transition to sustainability in Ghanaian urban areas. This study adopted a mixed-method approach which involved collecting and analysing qualitative and quantitative data. A case study strategy was adopted to derive data from both secondary and primary research, with Ghana as the overarching case study. Beneath the Ghana case study were sub-case studies which explored the interactions between urbanisation and sustainable development comparatively in two urban areas (Kumasi and Obuasi), and sustainable city development in Ghana (Appolonia City project). In order to achieve the aim of the study, published data were used to assess overall sustainable development and urbanisation patterns in Ghana. In doing so, sustainable development in Ghana was assessed based on four primary dimensions of sustainable development: (i) safeguarding long-term ecological sustainability; (ii) satisfying basic needs; (iii) promoting inter-generational equity, and (iv) promoting intra-generational equity. The following processes were followed in order to assess the interactions between urbanisation and sustainable development at the local urban level in Kumasi and Obuasi: (i) spatio-temporal analysis of land cover change was undertaken using remotely-sensed satellite data to assess landscape urbanisation, with published data used to assess demographic urbanisation; (ii) data from the literature were used to assess sustainable development based on selected socio-economic indicators which covered aspects of life expectancy, education and standard of living; and (iii) a citizen perception survey (n=624) was conducted to explore the subjective experiences of respondents in the context of urbanisation and sustainable development. To explore policy response to urbanisation and sustainable development in Ghana, the country’s National Urban Policy (NUP) and Action Plan (AP) were analysed to ascertain alignment with sustainability. To assess sustainable city development (as a response to sustainable urbanisation) in Ghana, the Appolonia City project was examined to assess how it contributes to a sustainable urban form. The findings of the study have confirmed the unsustainability of overall development and the rapid pace of urbanisation in Ghana. In Kumasi and Obuasi, the findings have confirmed that landscape urbanisation has led to significant urban expansion at the expense of natural vegetation, and consistent with national patterns of urbanisation, demographic urbanisation in the two urban areas has been rapid. As a result, the population density in Kumasi decreased from 11,491 people / km2 in 1984 to 4,135 people / km2 in 2019, compared with Obuasi where the population density increased from 2,569 people / km2 in 1984 to 3,529 people / km2. The findings have confirmed that urbanisation has contributed to improvements in some aspects of sustainable development in Kumasi and Obuasi compared with overall national performance. For example, 86% and 68% of citizens in Kumasi and Obuasi respectively had access to improved sanitation in 2017, compared with the national coverage of 15%. The findings have also established the importance of citizens’ subjective experience in the context of urban sustainability and have highlighted the need to consider group differences (including Gender and economic groups) in urban sustainability decision-making. In general, the findings on Kumasi and Obuasi showed that development in the two areas was unsustainable when the trade-offs between positive impacts and challenges are considered. The findings showed that Ghana’s NUP provides useful initiatives to manage urbanisation in Ghana. However, in the current state, the contribution of the NUP to sustainability in Ghana’s urban areas is limited. The findings showed that while the Appolonia City project contributes to sustainable city development through innovative features such as mixed land-use and solar panel designs, the overall design of Appolonia City undermines diversity and wider urban sustainability by potentially creating an elite enclave. The findings confirmed that the transition to a trajectory of sustainability in Ghana’s urban areas is in a nascent stage (if a transition exists at all). The study proposes that a radical shift in policy and practice at the institutional and community levels is required to manage urbanisation at the local level into more sustainable outcomes. A DPSIR-based conceptual model is proposed to facilitate decision-making for a transition to a trajectory of urban sustainability. Overall, the findings of the study generate direct implications for policymakers in Ghana and also provide lessons for the wider SSA region.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Additional Information:If you feel that this work infringes your copyright please contact the BURO Manager.
Uncontrolled Keywords:sustainability; sustainable development; sustainable cities; comparative; urbanisation; urban policy; urban; globalisation; urban citizens; Africa; Ghana
Group:Faculty of Science & Technology
ID Code:34967
Deposited By: Symplectic RT2
Deposited On:15 Dec 2020 14:18
Last Modified:14 Mar 2022 14:25


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