Downgrading - An overlooked reality in African cities: Reflections from an indigenous neighborhood of Accra, Ghana

Jose E. Melara Arguello, Richard Grant, Martin Oteng-Ababio, Betlehem M. Ayele

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


African cities contain a range of low-income ethnic and cultural enclaves that defy conventional 'slum' typecasts and intervention guidelines. Further, new forms of urbanization (e.g. gated communities and informal settlements) have received heavy emphasis in recent urban geographic research. Such research emphases have many unintended consequences; one of which is that traditional indigenous neighborhoods in the older city are glossed over. This paper focuses on urban downgrading in Korle Gonno, a prominent and established indigenous community in Accra, Ghana. Using mixed-method data (including surveys), the results illustrate that a traditional neighborhood encounters many of the same dimensions of urban poverty as the more famed slums in the city, yet it experiences different poverty trajectories. We argue that the prevailing slum profiling techniques fall short of capturing these trajectories; more nuanced approaches that capture continuity and discontinuity with past and present socioeconomic processes are necessary. Attention must be rebalanced toward understanding the deterioration of these neighborhoods if policymakers, planners and urban theorists are to obtain a comprehensive picture of poverty dynamics and appropriate interventions in African cities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)23-30
Number of pages8
JournalApplied Geography
StatePublished - Jan 2013


  • Accra
  • Poverty
  • Slum profiling
  • Traditional residential areas

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management


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