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Urban development and emerging relations of informal property and land-based authority in Accra

  • Paul Stacey

Rural–urban migration leads to ever increasing numbers of Africans living in informal settlements. In Accra's largest informal settlement, Old Fadama, residents by definition have no statutory rights to the land and their building activities undermine formal state law and state-recognized customary landowners. Statutory institutions are unable to enforce property rights and alternative interests emerge and organize. In multiple and fragmented ways, local stakeholders create and define their own informal relations of property and land-based authority. This article examines four cases of land transfers, building and development in the settlement that involve a variety of local, national and global actors. Their actions show the contemporaneous making and unmaking of different relations of property and land-based control and authority in the densely populated urban site. Important features of urban development in Accra are thereby shown to be variations in property relations and the multitude of actors that validate land use but that circumvent statutory institutions.

En conséquence de l'exode rural, les Africains sont de plus en plus nombreux à vivre dans des peuplements informels. Dans le plus grand peuplement informel d'Accra, Old Fadama, les résidents n'ont, par définition, aucun droit statutaire aux terres et leurs activités de construction sapent le droit étatique formel et les propriétaires fonciers coutumiers reconnus par l’État. Les organes statutaires étant dans l'incapacité de faire appliquer les droits fonciers, des intérêts alternatifs apparaissent et s'organisent. De manières multiples et fragmentées, les parties prenantes locales créent et définissent leurs propres liens de propriété et autorité foncière. Cet article examine quatre cas de transfert, de construction et d'aménagement fonciers dans le peuplement impliquant divers acteurs locaux, nationaux et globaux. Leurs actions montrent la construction et la déconstruction contemporaine de différents liens de propriété et d'autorité foncière dans ce site urbain densément peuplé. L'auteur montre que les importantes caractéristiques de l'urbanisme à Accra sont des variations des liens de propriété et la multitude d'acteurs qui valident l'utilisation des terres, mais que contournent les organes statutaires.

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