Livelihood strategies among the urban poor: a comparative study of two slum communities in Accra, Ghana

Amie Kamanda, University of Southampton

The focus on urban poverty which has accompanied rapid urbanisation in the developing context culminated in United Nations Millennium Development Goal 7, Target 7.D, which aims to significantly improve the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers by the year 2020. The livelihoods which the urban poor engage in and the livelihood opportunities that they have access to can contribute to improving their lives. The study examines urban poverty by focusing on livelihood strategies among residents in two slum communities: Agbogbloshie, a migrant community and James Town, an indigenous community in Accra, Ghana. Both communities can be classified as a slum according to the operational definition provided by United Nations Habitat (2003). The communities were both deprived in terms of infrastructure and livelihood opportunities. The livelihoods framework developed by Department for International Development (1999) was applied to participatory and innovative methods including in-depth interviews, participant observation and walking interviews to compare and contrast the livelihood strategies of ten individuals (male and female of working age 18 – 59 years) and why residents choose specific livelihoods in both communities. The study found that employment opportunities although essential in improving the lives of the urban poor were lacking in both communities. Furthermore, individuals requested for skills training and access to credit as a way of engaging in sustainable livelihoods. The study shows the need for investment in education and vocational skills training for young adults who aspired to participate in the formal sector whereas, the older generation need access to credit due to concerns around poor health from doing manual work. So that the significant improvement in the lives of the urban poor could be realised and contribution towards achieving the MDG Goal 7 could be made, the government of Ghana needs to engage with the residents of poor urban communities.

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Presented in Poster Session 1

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