17:00 - 19:00 30 May 2012
Location: 34 Tavistock Square, DPU building. Room 101
Fire renders more than 3,500 homeless in the capital of Ghana
A fire break ravaged more than 1,000 houses in Old Fadama, one of Ghana’s largest informal settlements with 80,000 dwellers. The fire spread across the wooden structures, rendering 3,500 people homeless and without alternative housing options or shelter. The situation is even more critical due to the beginning of the long rainy season. The disaster occurred at 7 am last Monday (21st May). The local authorities are doing little to assist with disaster mitigation, and the amount of aid the community will receive is uncertain and unreliable.
The Ghanaian media are downplaying the dimensions of the fire and are blaming the dwellers instead of promoting a campaign to help them cope. The settlement is mostly dependent on NGOs and their own organisations for assistance. According to Alhassan Baba Fuseini, a victim of the fire, community leader and a member of the Ghana Federation of Urban Poor and Old Fadama Development Association, the people not only lost their belongings but also their livelihoods.
In response to this, a group of students from the Development Planning Unit at UCL who have just returned from in-depth fieldwork in Old Fadama are hosting a discussion on disaster mitigation in informal settlements, with an emphasis on fires on Wednesday 30 May 2012. There will be a panel of international experts and UCL staff, as well as direct reactions from organisations and community members from Old Fadama. This event is open to the public and free of charge and has as objective raise awareness of the international community and discuss fund raising strategies.
Notes for Editors
Old Fadama exists in a permanent state of transiency, with infrastructure and housing being organised, built and maintained by the community at their own cost. Due to its informality the settlement has no sanitation, no waste collection and lacks basic infrastructure amenities. Additionally, it is bordering the Korle Lagoon, currently used as an illegal landfill for both local waste and international e-waste. The Accra Metropolitan Assembly has been promoting a restoration project for the lagoon, which would require the relocation of the settlement. The government’s lack of support is then not surprising, as they have no interest in the community remaining in its present location.
The discussion will be preceded by a brief presentation on Old Fadama and a video conference with community leaders and affected people describing the situation and discussing possibilities of international aid.
Professor David Satterthwaite is a Senior Fellow at the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) and Editor of the International journal Environment and Urbanization. A development planner by training with a Doctorate in social policy, he has long had an interest in the power and capacity of grassroots organisations formed by residents of informal settlements; this was the focus of a book written with Jorge Hardoy in 1989 entitled Squatter Citizen. More recent books published by Earthscan include: The Earthscan Reader on Sustainable Cities (editor), 1999; Environmental Problems in an Urbanizing World (with Jorge Hardoy and Diana Mitlin), 2001; Empowering Squatter Citizen (co-editor with Diana Mitlin), 2004 and Adapting Cities to Climate Change (co-editor with Jane Bicknell and David Dodman), 2009. http://www.ucl.ac.uk/bartlett/people/?school=dpu&upi=DSATT65
Mensah Owusu – Member of People's Dialogue for Human Settlements, a partner organisation of the international Shack/Slum Dwellers International.
Alhassan Baba Fuseini – Community leader and member of the Ghana Federation of the Urban Poor and the Old Fadama Development Association.
Development Planning Unit - Solidarity with the people of Old Fadama
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Viliano Fassini – email@example.com phone: 07735622467