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Slums of hope and slums of despair: Mobility and livelihoods in Nima, Accra

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Slums are universally assumed to be the worst places for people to live in, and it is often taken for granted that the livelihood situations of slum communities are also uniform and homogenous. So pervasive is the latter idea that most studies examining the livelihood situations of slum communities do not compare the socio-economic and cultural differences within such communities. A distinctive feature of slum communities is the pursuance of multiple livelihood strategies that are tied to migration. However, the links between migration and livelihood situations in many slum communities have not been extensively examined. The article seeks to examine the many faces of Nima, a slum community in Accra (Ghana), and link these to livelihoods and migration. The data for the study are drawn from varied sources, including in-depth, key informant interviews, personal observations, and census reports. The complexity and varied migration patterns both internationally and internally tied to livelihoods in Nima are revealed. The changing character of slums is discussed and it is concluded that slums are not only a matter of the negative aspects of urban places but there are positive sides as well. The significance of migration and migrants is crucial for understanding Nima's role in urban development, and for making the appropriate recommendations for livelihoods development in Nima.

Keywords: Accra; livelihoods; poverty; slums

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00291950802335798

Publication date: September 1, 2008

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