Sociocultural factors and perceptions associated with voluntary and permanent relocation of flood victims: A case study of Sekondi-Takoradi Metropolis in Ghana
Addo, Isaac Y.
Danso, Samuel Y.
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Flooding is a major problem in many developing urban centres in Ghana, including the Sekondi-Takoradi Metropolis (STM). Residents who are living close to the Anankwari, Kansawura and Whin rivers in the metropolis often experience flooding when the rivers overflow their banks, resulting in lives being lost, people being displaced and properties being destroyed. One durable solution to the flooding problem is voluntary and permanent relocation of ‘vulnerable’ residents; but this form of solution cannot be achieved without a clear understanding of the sociocultural factors that influence the decision-making process. This study uniquely investigated the sociocultural and economic factors affecting voluntary and permanent relocation of flood victims, using Eshiem, Kansawurodo and Whindo communities as a case study. Employing a mixed cross-sectional design method, 207 heads of households were selected to fill in questionnaires; interviews were conducted with nine representatives of the traditional councils, and areas affected by flooding were photographed. The findings show that voluntary and permanent relocation was overlooked by most flood victims due to perceived inability to rent new places owing to low incomes, fear of losing income-generating ventures that serve as sources of livelihoods, hope of gaining income from the oil production within the region and the need for restitution from government before evacuation. From a sociocultural viewpoint, they felt uncomfortable with losing ancestral lands and landed properties as well as breaking long-standing ties with their community folks and other networks. Flood victims’ willingness to stay in the flood-prone communities was also influenced by duration of stay in the communities and ownership of landed assets. When considering voluntary and permanent relocation of flood victims as a durable solution in the future, these sociocultural and economic factors need to be carefully considered.