Korle Lagoon Restoration Project and displacement from Accra's Old Fadama Slum, Ghana

When the slum gets in the way of tourism development, a flood opens opportunity. The government is using natural disasters as a reason to unilaterally determine the fate of the slum, while ignoring the rights of the people who are impacted


Basic Data
NameKorle Lagoon Restoration Project and displacement from Accra's Old Fadama Slum, Ghana
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Urban development conflicts
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsThe conflict over the land area is rooted in clashes between elites and colonial administrators over land tenure policies of 1914-1920. Since 1991, there have been repeated eviction actions in Old Fadama, in attempts to remove the northern settlers, who are still called ´outsiders´ despite their extended tenure in the locale. On July 31, 1993, people from 400 houses on public land were evicted. In 1999, the government launched the Korle Lagoon Ecological Restoration Project (KLERP), more recently which has been touted as a climate adaptation program due to the recurrent flooding in Old Fadama, but essentially what represents a redevelopment of the slum for the purposes of creating a recreation area and also relocating or forcibly evicting the marginalized slum residents, originating from the North. KLERP aims to improve the ecology of the lagoon by eliminating the material inflows that are clogging the river basin through sanitation control, improved channeling, sewage treatment, and better ecological and hydrological conditions of the Lagoon and its tributaries. The project was scheduled to take place from January 2000 to July 2008 in four stages, funded by the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa, The Kuwait Fund for Arab and the Government of Ghana. While the money was spent and some efforts were made to improve the river’s flow, the lagoon remains heavily polluted due to the incapacity of the government to work with the slum residents and their respective livelihoods, especially in the case of the 2015 demolition.

When questioned on live television in the hours following the 2015 demolition what planning would be put into place for those who lost their homes, the Deputy Minister of the Local Government stated that ‘we are not talking about relocation, but rather trying to avert a flood problem’ [Joy News]. Despite years of discussion of the government’s desire to develop the Lagoon area and enhance the ecological viability of the area around the slum, only the ‘excuse’ of climate change adaptation in relation to the imminent threat of flood hazards provided the political leverage necessary for the AMA to bulldoze the territory without due legal process. 2,000 structures have been pulled down in the demolition to permit the dredging of the waterway that is perceived to be the source of the floods. The demolition of the slum led to a massive demonstration which included vandalism, riots, and residents storming the State House in Accra on June 22, 2015.

Prior to the slum destruction in 2015, community members had been slowly organizing to protect the rights of the slum’s residents. In May 2002, eviction notices were served to nearly the entire population of Old Fadama. Residents responded by issuing a court challenge, but lost the ruling on July 24, 2002. This resulted in the formation of a grassroots movement for self-determination with Shack/Slum Dwellers International (SDI) called the Ghana Federation of the Urban Poor or GHAFUP. Their mobilizations have enabled the negotiation of solutions and dialogue between government actors and the 30,000 residents at risk of eviction. The Ghana Homeless Peoples’ Federation and the People’s Dialogue (PD) on Human Settlements have concurrently supported the dialogue about Old Fadama.

Actions taken included:

1) Negotiations with city officials and relevant Ministries on alternative to eviction of old Fadama have been ongoing. Working jointly with UN Habitat and other stakeholders, The Government of Ghana Through relevant Ministries, NGO’s is considering alternatives to Evictions in Old Fadama. In a letter dated November 14, 2005, signed by the Minister of Tourism and Modernization of the Capital City, the GOG is requesting collaboration and support from SDI/PD to carry out an Enumeration in Old Fadama.

2) People’s Dialogue (PD) then collaborated to conduct a community-led study for the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) in order to inform a lasting and more human solution to the slum development. The study took place from November to December 2009.

3) Amnesty International published a report on the forced eviction of Old Fadama residents, for the development of a railway system in the area.

4) Massive protests, media reports, and continued lobbying of government officials by groups defending the human rights of slum residents in June to July 2015, following the demolition of housing as part of efforts to reduce flood risk.
Project Area (in hectares)31.3
Level of Investment (in USD)93,800,000.00
Type of PopulationUrban
Potential Affected Population80,000
Start Date02/05/2002
Company Names or State EnterprisesAccra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) from Ghana
Environmental Protection Agency Ghana from Ghana
International and Financial InstitutionsOPEC Fund for International Development (OFID)
The Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa
Republic of Ghana
Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development (KFAED) from Kuwait
Belgium Government Supported Export Credit
Standard Chartered Bank, London
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersPeople's Dialogye on Human Settlements, Ghana Federation of the Urban Poor (GHAFUP), UNHABITAT, National Advocates Against Corruption And Injustice (NAACAI), Shack/Slum Dwellers International (SDI), Help the African Child, Mike Anane, an environmental activist from Accra, Professor Oteng-Abavio, Center for Public Interest Law (CEPIL),
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)HIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Project StatusUnknown
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.As a result of a multi-scalar organizing effort, the slums were able to take part in the dialogue with the government actors such as AMA, but still not enough was accomplished to defend the rights of residents in light of climate hazards such as flood. Clearly, the government is using natural disasters as a reason to unilaterally determine the fate of the slum, while ignoring the rights of the people who are impacted.
Sources and Materials

Lepawsky, Josh and G. Akese. 2015. Sweeping Away Agbobgloshie. Again. Discard Studies.


E-Waste Republic
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GHAFUP's website
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Demolition news
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World's biggest e-dump or vital supplies for Africa?
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Media Links

Demolition News
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Other Documents

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Bulldozer A bulldozer threateningly waits in Old Fadama to continue the destruction, July 2, 2015 (http://xliveafrica.com/2015/07/02/accra-mayor-warns-of-more-demolition-at-old-fadama/)
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A mosque sits amid the wreckage in the Old Fadama neighbourhood of Accra, Ghana, June 22, 2015. REUTERS/Matthew Mpoke Bigg
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Meta Information
ContributorJulie Snorek, [email protected]
Last update10/02/2017