Graduate School
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Dr Issahaka Fuseini


Home country: Ghana

Year of enrolment: 2013

Graduation date: March 2016

Department: Geography and Environmental studies

Supervisor: Dr Jaco Kemp

Dissertation title: Urban governance and spatial planning for sustainable urban development in Tamale, Ghana


Abstract: This study investigated urban governance and spatial planning practices for sustainable urban development in Tamale, Ghana, regarding provision and access to urban infrastructure and basic services. This broad aim of the study was divided into three objectives, namely to 1) review of the statutory provisions for the conduct of urban governance and spatial planning in Ghana and Tamale, 2) assess the spatio-temporal growth dynamics and provision of urban infrastructure and basic services in Tamale, and 3) to explore stakeholder engagement in spatial planning in the city. Research questions that guided the study were: a) what is the extent of the physical expansion of Tamale and how does urban governance respond to the growth dynamics regarding infrastructure and service provision?, b) to what extent does the spatial growth patterns of the city reflect local and national development aspirations, c) what national and local statutory frameworks guide the practice of urban governance and spatial planning, d) what are the modes of stakeholder engagement in urban governance and spatial planning and who are the stakeholders, and e) is the city’s urban governance inclusive and amenable to decentralisation, entrepreneurialism and democratisation (DED) principles? The DED analytical framework and collaborative planning theoretical perspective were adopted to analyse urban governance practices and outcomes in Tamale. Four evaluative questions were addressed using the DED and collaborative planning frameworks, namely how urban governance is lived in Tamale, whether urban governance leads to job creation, and for whom, whether urban governance results in improved urban services and whether urban governance empowers people at the grass roots and promotes accountable governance. A mixed methods research design was employed in the study. This comprised of quantitative analysis of the city’s spatial growth using remote sensing and geographic information systems techniques, and qualitative investigation of urban governance processes and outcomes. The results show that the legislative provisions guiding urban governance in Ghana have not been effective in promoting sustainable urban development leading to the country transitioning towards spatial development frameworks (SDFs) as alternative approaches. Also, both the city’s spatial and demographic growth has been phenomenal, but access to urban infrastructure and services has lagged behind. Moreover, there was limited stakeholder engagement in urban governance and that resulted in low accountability. In terms of the DED and collaborative planning frameworks, there were generally no straightforward answers to the evaluative questions, except with respect to the question of accountability, which was almost non-existent in the urban governance practices of Tamale. The study concludes by lauding efforts to reform urban governance laws and initiatives to engender participatory and partnership-based urban governance and service delivery in the city. It is recommended that these reforms should be encouraged and operationalised within real decentralisation, entrepreneurialism and democratisation. Comprehensive needs assessment, institutional and stakeholder capacity-building efforts, and empathic stakeholder engagements will be crucial in this regard, especially if social justice, economic viability, and environmental health and sustainability are considered in the management of the city’s urban growth. Further research is recommended to provide detailed understanding of urban governance outcomes in Tamale, such as the magnitude of job creation, distribution and sustainability.


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