Original Research

Cities and floods: A pragmatic insight into the determinants of households’ coping strategies to floods in informal Accra, Ghana

Kwaku Owusu Twum, Mohammed Abubakari
Jàmbá: Journal of Disaster Risk Studies | Vol 11, No 1 | a608 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/jamba.v11i1.608 | © 2019 Kwaku O. Twum, Mohammed Abubakari | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 26 January 2018 | Published: 10 January 2019

About the author(s)

Kwaku Owusu Twum, Department of Planning, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana
Mohammed Abubakari, Department of Planning, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana; and, Rural Environmental Care Association, Accra, Ghana


Floods are common events that confront many cities in the developing world. Ghana, a developing country, is persistently challenged with flood events, especially in its major cities. In informal Accra, for instance, despite the severity of flood effects and its associated threats, poor informal residents continue to stay. As a result, these poor urban dwellers have developed local coping strategies made up of mitigation and reactive measures to manage and adapt to flood hazards through their preceding experiences. In this article, we have embraced the convergent parallel mixed method of case study design to echo and explore (1) the major effects of preceding floods on informal households, (2) the local informal coping strategies adopted by households to mitigate and respond to flooding and its effects in the future and (3) the determinants of the coping strategies of households that underpin their continual stay in spite of flood risks in Alajo, an urbanised suburb in Accra metropolis noted as one of the slum communities that easily flood in Ghana. Our analysis has used a mix of qualitative and quantitative data collected from both secondary and primary sources as well as a conceptualised model known as disaster resilience of place. The key findings (Alajo has low degree of adaptive resilience to major floods which might occur in the future because of the lack of social learning in the coping strategies developed through several years of lessons learnt from perennial floods) and proposals (local coordination in implementing the coping strategies to flooding, state support of the local strategies and adoption of rainwater harvesting) also make contributions to managing urban floods in informal settlements in the developing world.


floods; informality; households; urban; informal Accra; Ghana


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