‘We are not the only ones to blame’: District Assemblies’ Perspectives on the state of planning in Ghana

Eric Yeboah
Franklin Obeng-Odoom


Planning has failed to exert effective influence on the growth of human settlements in Ghana. As a result, the growth of cities has been chaotic. The district assemblies, which are the designated planning authorities, are commonly blamed for this failure, yet little attention has been given to district assemblies’ perspectives of what factors lead to failures in planning. This paper attempts to fill this gap. Drawing on fieldwork in Ghana, it argues that, from the perspective of district assemblies, five major challenges inhibit planning, namely: an inflexible land ownership system, an unresponsive legislative framework, undue political interference, an acute human resource shortage, and the lack of a sustainable funding strategy. The paper concludes with proposals for reforming the planning system in Ghana.

Full Text:



Adams M and Annum J. D, 2005, Statistical Information Resources and Development Planning in Ghana, Information Development, Vol. 21, No. 2, 138-145

Adarkwa K.K. and Akyaw O, 2001, Development Control in Kumasi, in The Fate of the Tree, Planning and Managing the Development of Kumasi, by Adarkwa, K.K. & Post, J, Woeli Publishing Services, Accra

Adarkwa K.K. and Post J., 2001, Development Control in Kumasi, in The Fate of the Tree, Planning and Managing the Development of Kumasi, by Adarkwa, K.K. & Post, J, Woeli Publishing Services, Accra.

Afriyie, O, 2010, New Patriotic Party General Secretary vows to sue Accra Metropolitan Authority http://news.myjoyonline.com/news/201004/44685.asp [assessed on 03/07/2010]

Antwi A and Deakin M, 1996, Tenurial Structures, Urban Land Markets and Land Policy Issues in Agrarian Economies: The Case of Ghana, The Cutting Edge, RICS London

Archarya B P, 1998, The instruments of urban land policy in India: opportunities for future direction, Environment and Planning A, volume 20, pages 1427-1447

Archer R. W, 1988, Land Pooling for Re-subdivision and New Subdivision in Western Australia The American Journal of Economics and Sociology, Vol. 47, No. 2 , pp. 207-221

Aryeetey-Attoh, S and Chatterjee, 1988, Regional inequalities in Ghana: assessment and policy issues, Journal of Economic and Social Geography, Vol. 79, Issue 1, pp. 3138

Asiama S O, 2008, The Concept of Public Land in Kumasi, Journal of the Ghana Institution of Surveyors, vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 44-50

Ballaney S, 2008, The Town Planning Scheme Mechanism in Gujarat, India, The World Bank, Washington D.C

Barratt, J, 1976, Patterns of Inequality, The Open University, Milton Keynes

Clarke, G. (1994): Re-appraising the Urban Planning Process as an Instrument for Sustainable Urban Development and Management, Paper Presented in a Reappraisal of the Urban Planning Process, Habitat-Nairobi

Connellan O, 2002, Land Assembly for Development The Role of Land Pooling, Land Re-adjustment and Land Consolidation, FIG XXII International Congress Washington, D.C. USA, April 19-26

Constitution, Republic of Ghana, 1992, Accra

COWI, 2009, Institutional Review, Land Administration Project, Accra

Crawford G, 2004, 'Democratic decentralisation in Ghana: issues and prospects', POLIS Working Paper No. 9, prepared for Norwegian Association for Development Research (NFU), Annual Conference, Oslo.

de Soto H, 1989, The Other Path: The Invisible Revolution in the Third World. Harper and Row, New York

de Soto, H., 2000, The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else, Basic Books, New York

Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) 2008, World Urbanisation Prospects, the 2007 Revision, UN

Dixon T, 2009, Urban land and property ownership patterns in the UK: trends and forces for change, Land Use Policy, vol. 26S, pp. S43S53

Dowall, D. E, 1992, The Benefits of Minimal Land Development Regulation, Habitat International, 16(4) pp. 15-26

Electoral Commission of Ghana 2010, Election Results, http://ec.gov.gh/node/134 [assessed on 18/10/2010]

Falk, N, 2004, Funding Sustainable Communities: Smart Growth and Intelligent Local Finance TCPA Tomorrow Series, Paper 13, London

Flynn-Dapaah K, (undated) The Political Economy Aspects of Land Use Planning for Urban Agriculture in Accra, Ghana Report presented to IDRC Ottawa

Flyvbjerg, B, 1998, Rationality and Power. Democracy in Practice, The University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London.

Friedmann, J, 1959, Introduction to the Study and Practice of Planning, International Social Science Journal, Vol. XI, No. 3, pp. 327-339

Gambrah, A (2002) Improving Land Transfer Procedures in Ghana, Journal of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Vol. 22, Nos. 1, 2 & 3 pp.22-33

Gareth, J, 1991, The Commercialisation of the Land Market? Land ownership patterns in the Mexican city of Puebla. Third World Planning Review, vol. 13, no. 2, pp. 129-153

Ghana Statistical Services. 2000, Population and Housing Censuses 2000, Accra

Gobah, T, 2009, Suspend demolishing exercise. President directs Accra Metropolitan Assembly, Daily Graphic No. 18106, Accra

Gough, K. and P. Yankson. 2000. Land Markets in African Cities: The Case of Peri-Urban Accra, Ghana, " Urban Studies, vol. 37, no. 13, pp. 24852500."

Grant, R and Nijman, J 2004, The re-scaling of uneven development in Ghana and India, Journal of Economic and Social Geography, Vol. 95, Issue 5, pp. 467481

Graphic (2009) Demolishing Slums In Ghana: The Kenyan Example

http://www.graphicghana.com/blogs/page.php?post=103 [assessed 12/09/2010]

Gyampo R, 2008, 'Direct Election of District Chief Executives and Mayors A tool for effective decentralisation and political stability in Ghana', Ghana Policy Journal, pp.70-92.

Gurumukhi K.T, 2003, Land Pooling Technique: A tool for plan implementation - An Indian experience, Map India Conference, India

Hammond, D.N.A, 2001, Land Tenure and Land Policy in The Fate of the Tree, Planning and Managing the Development of Kumasi, by Adarkwa, K.K. & Post, J, Woeli Publishing Services, Accra.

Holzman-Gazit Y, 20007, Land Expropriation in Israel: Law, Culture and Society Aldershot: Ashgate

Home R, 2007, Land readjustment as a global land tool: focus on the Middle East RICS- FiBRE, London

Huang , S-M, 1986, Impacts of British Colonial Administration on Hong Kong's Land Tenure System, New Asia Academic Bulletin Vol. 6, pp. 3-21

Heuber, S and Veer, de C., 2001. Urban spatial management in Kumasi in The Fate of the Tree: Planning and Managing the Development of Kumasi, Ghana, edited by K. K. Adarkwa and J. Post. Accra: Woeli Publishing Services.

Huxley, M. and Yiftachel O, 2000, New paradigm or old myopia? Unsettling the communicative turn in planning theory, Journal of Planning Education and Research, Vol. 19, no 4, Pp. 333-342

Jokay C, Kalman J and Kopany M, (2004) Municipal Infrastructure Financing in Intergovernmental Financing in Hungary, a Decade of Experience 1990-2000 edited by Kopany M, Wetzel, D and Samir E, World Bank , Washington DC

Karki, (2004) Implementation experiences of land pooling projects in Kathmandu Valley", Habitat International Journal, Vol. 28, Issue 1, pp 67-88, "

Kasanga K, 2003, 'Current land policy issues in Ghana', in Gropo P, Land Reform: Land settlement and cooperatives, FAO, Rome, pp.141-154.

Kasanga, R.K., Cochrane, J., King, R., Roth, M., 1996, Land markets and legal contradictions in the peri-urban area of Accra, Ghana: informant interviews and secondary data investigations. Research Paper, Land Tenure Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison/ Land Administration Research Centre, University of Science and Technology, Kumasi

Kivell P, 1993, Land and the City; Patterns and processes of urban change, Routledge, London & New York

Konadu-Agyemang, K. 1991. Reflections on the Absence of Squatter Settlements in West African Cities: The Case of Kumasi, Ghana, " Urban Studies, vol. 28, no.1, pp.139151."

Konadu-Agyemang K, 2000, The Best of Times and the Worst of Times: Structural Adjustment Programs and Uneven Development in Africa: The Case Of Ghana, The Professional Geographer, Vol.52, Issue 3, pp. 469483

Lacsmandi G and Barr K.K, 2004, Regulation of urban land development in Intergovernmental Financing in Hungary, a Decade of Experience 1990-2000 editted by Kopany M, Wetzel, D and Samir E, World Bank , Washington DC

Lane M. B, 2006, The Role of Planning in Achieving Indigenous Land Justice and Community Goals Land Use Policy vol. 23, no. 4, pp.385394

Larbi O W, Antwi A and Olomolaiye P, 2004, Compulsory land acquisition in Ghanapolicy and praxis, Land Use Policy vol.21, pp.115127

Larbi, W.O, 1996, Spatial Planning and Urban Fragmentation in Accra, Third World Planning Review, vol.18, no. 2, pp. 193-214

Larbi, W.O., 1995, The Urban Land Development Process and Urban Land Policies in Ghana, Our Common Estate Series, Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, London

Local Government Act, 1993 (Act 462), Accra

Luithlen L, 1997, Landownership in Britain and the quest for town planning, Environment and Planning A, vol. 29, pp. 1399-1418

Mensah J, 2005, 'Problems of district medium-term development plan implementation in Ghana', International Development Planning Review, vol. 27, no 2, pp. 245 -270.

National Building Regulations (LI 1630), Accra

Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, 2010, National Urban Policy, 2010, Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development , Accra.

Njoh A, 2009, 'Ideology and public health elements of human settlement policies in sub-Saharan Africa', Cities: the international journal of urban policy and planning, vol. 26, pp. 9-18.

Obeng-Odoom F, 2010, 'Is decentralisation in Ghana pro-poor? Commonwealth Journal of Local Governance, issue 6, July, pp.120-126.

Obeng-Odoom, F, 2009, Transforming third world cities through good urban governance: fresh evidence, Theoretical and Empirical Researches in Urban Management Vol.1, no.10, pp. 46-62

Oli P. P, 2003, Land Pooling: The Public Private Participatory Urban Development in Nepal 2nd FIG Regional Conference Marrakech, Morocco, December 2-5

Olima, W. H. A, 1993, The Land Use Planning in Provincial Towns of Kenya: A Case Study of Kisumu and Eldore towns, Project Verlag, Dortmund, Germany.

Topfer, K. (2002): Re-assessment of Urban Planning and Development Regulations in Africa Cities, Habitat, Nairobi. at http://www.unchs.org/unchs/english/urbanpl/african/africa.htm [assessed on 10/12/2009]

Town & Country Planning Department 2009, Annual performance report for 2009, submitted to the Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology, Accra

Ubink J M and Quan J F, 2008, How to combine tradition and modernity? Regulating customary land management in Ghana Land Use Policy, vol. 25 pp. 198213

UN-Habitat, 2009, Ghana Urban Profile, UN-Habitat, Nairobi.

Van Leeuwen, F.K.C., and Van Steekelenburg E.M. 1995, The Process of Land Acquisition: A Case Study of Kumasi. Amsterdam: Institute of Planning and Demography. Report no. 5

Yankson, P. and V. Gough. 1999. The Environmental Impact of Rapid Urbanization"

in the Peri-Urban Area of Accra, Ghana, Danish Journal of Geography, vol. 99, pp. 89100."

Yeboah, I. 2003. Demographic and Housing Aspect of Structural Adjustment and Emerging Urban Form in Accra, Ghana, " Africa Today, vol. 50, no. 1, pp. 107119."

Yeboah, I. 2006. Subaltern Strategies and Development Practice: Urban Water Privatization in Ghana, " The Geographical Journal 172, no. 1, pp. 5065."

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5130/cjlg.v0i7.1893