Place Attachment in informal urban neighborhoods: Experiences from Nima and Old Fadama, Accra (Ghana)
Scholarly attention on place attachment has increased significantly over the past years. Most of these studies focus on experiences from the Global North. In the Global south context, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa, there is very limited empirical studies on place attachment despite the influence of different residential environments (e.g., neighbourhoods) on people’s lived experiences. Slums/informal settlements provide alternative housing options for urban poor in SSA cities. However, existing studies on slums/informal settlements are dominated by pessimistic and dystopian narratives about these neighbourhoods. This paper examines how residents of Nima and Old Fadama, the largest slums in Accra feel about their neighbourhoods. How do residents of Nima and Old Fadama (Accra) feel about their places of residence and what factors explain these feelings? Drawing from semi-structured interviews with residents of these neighbourhoods, we argue that while slum dwellers experience multiple deprivations in infrastructure and services, the feelings of ‘home’ and ‘sense of belonging’ remain strong. The place-based solidarity and positive emotions expressed by slum dwellers in Nima and Old Fadama challenge conventional negative narratives where these places are perceived as squalor, degrading and unsuitable for human habitation. Urban planners and policymakers should leverage on these positive place-based narratives to develop resilient and sustainable neighbourhoods.