EDITORIAL: There will be a discussion on the current situation in Old Fadama as well as the often overlooked perils of fire in informal settlements on Wednesday 30 May 5-7pm in Room 101 in the DPU. It will consist of an initial presentation on the settlement followed by reactions from organisations on the ground and a panel of international experts on disaster mitigation and housing. You are all welcome to join!
We are writing on behalf of the DPU MSc Environment and Sustainable Development (ESD) study group recently back from the 3 weeks field trip where we studied Urban Agriculture in Old Fadama, a large informal settlement in Accra, Ghana. Today we received bad news from the community saying that last Monday (May 21st) a fire ravaged 1,000 houses rendering over 3,500 people homeless. Moreover, these people who already have almost no belongings are now left with nothing and with no place to stay. To make matters worse, the rainy season is just now starting.
The situation in Old Fadama is that of permanent transiency. Because of its informal nature, the government does not provide infrastructure and Old Fadama’s insecure land tenure has made both the community and outside organisations hesitant to invest. All basic infrastructure and housing is thus organised, built and maintained by the community and the Old Fadama Development Organisation, OFADA, at their own cost.
The local authorities are unclear about the dimensions of the catastrophe and are doing little to assist the community. As the relationship between Old Fadama and the Accra Metropolitan Assembly is tense, the amount of aid the community will receive is unclear and unreliable. The Ghanaian media are not giving precise information about the fire and are mostly blaming the dwellers instead of promoting a campaign to help them to cope with this misfortune. Thankfully, the community is well-organised and NGOs and organisations like People’s Dialogue for Human Settlements, OFADA (Old Fadama Development Association) and the Ghana Federation of the Urban Poor are working hard to help the Old Fadama community. In fact, our local facilitator in Accra, Mr. Fuseini, was responsible for enumerating the homeless despite the fact that he himself lost everything in the fire.
In collaboration with the ESD staff, our group has thus decided to raise awareness through the DPU channels in order to inform you all about this and gather suggestions about ways to help them. Additionally, the DPU staff will be in contact with the Ghana Federation of the Urban Poor, People’s Dialogue and other organisations to explore how to best support the people of Old Fadama. Please feel free to show your solidarity with ideas. We are also considering the feasibility of collecting funds to help with the re-building efforts.
We will of course keep you posted on any events, efforts, or new information on this topic.
Thank you so much in advance.
‘The Old Fadama Group’ from the Environment and Sustainable Development Programme at the DPU
For more information and pictures about this visit: http://philipkumah.wordpress.com/2012/05/22/fire-outbreak-in-old-fadama/