Settlement pattern in regional planning: (A study of the Central Region)

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INTRODUCTION: This thesis is a study of the existing settlement pattern in the Central Region of Ghana with the purpose of evolving a rational settlement pattern for planning. The author’s contribution to the Regional Design Thesis is in the same field. The settlement pattern can be defined as the pattern of where people live in relation to their work, their schools, their hospitals, and other social amenities and in relation to where other people live. His problem re-stated therefore, is the study of Central places in the Central Region of Ghana, and their role as production and service centers in Regional Planning. A central place is a settlement which provides services for the area for which it is a centre. Ghana., like other developing countries, is under going transition from a partial subsistence economy to a full monetary economy. With the completion of the hydro-electricity project at Akosombo, Ghana has “taken off” on the road to industrialization. This transition, calls for the practice of commercial agriculture to produce crops for our industries; it calls for an expansion in our export trade, and it also calls for a new settlement pattern so that all sections of the population may benefit from the social and economic facilities that will be provided. The justification for this study therefore can be found in the words of the Physical Development Plan: “in order that the proposed economic and social investments may be distributed economically throughout the country, the existing settlement patterns must change” (1) This suggests that there is existing at the moment en economically irrational settlement pattern and unless a radical step is taken the economic returns of our national investments cannot be maximized , and consequently not all sections of the population will benefit directly from the provision of the social end other services. In this work therefore the existing settlement pattern in the Central Region is examined with a view to recommending changes if necessary, so that the disparities in living conditions and opportunities and employment that now exist between one region end others, and between the villages and towns, can be corrected and the problems of urbanization can be minimized. In an undertaking like this some modesty is needed. This is because there is no one answer to the problem; many different settlement patterns can be evolved for the Central Region, or Ghana as a whole, depending upon the forces and factors which dominate, upon the level of our development and the period of time. It should therefore be expected that many factors and forces will affect the future pattern of settlements in Ghana. The construction of the mighty dam at Akosombo, for instance, has necessitated the resettlement of about 77,000 people in an enormous area at the Volta Basin. The zone of the resettlement. covers many square miles of land area This project has transformed the existing settlement pattern in that region, but conforming, to some degree, to the pattern of the people’s local farming and the manufacturing economics of the country. The factors and forces that will effect the future settlement pattern stand out clearly if we distinguish, after Clawson,( l) between the optimum and probable settlement patterns. The optimum settlement pattern is that settlement pattern which will offer maximum satisfactions to all the people involved, and at the least cost for the satisfactions obtained. Tastes as well as levels of satisfaction differ but the satisfaction as used here assumes that the provision of basic facilities like health schools, water, electricity and the like will satisfy communities and check to a great extent the rate of influx of people from the rural areas to the urban centers where they hope to enjoy “urban life”. The probable pattern is the nearest approximation to the optimum. The probable settlement pattern will be dominated to a great degree by the existing pattern because the resistance to change are innate in man, and are also numerous and powerful. The optimum pattern will be strongly effected by the present pattern and also by the present capital investments in the various sectors of our economy. The emphasis in this study is on the optimum settlement pattern. The contribution of this study is both theoretical and practical. As a theoretical study it contributes to the methodology of the Study of settlement patterns in Ghana and as a practical study it makes proposals that are in tune with the economic and social aspirations of Ghana. It recognizes the technical methods of planning are as important as the policy since integrated method for planning has not developed widely among countries, (I) for example the Eastern European groups of countries has developed techniques primarily for economic planning and has derived physical and social planning accordingly. The older established countries with industrial economies have developed fiscal. mechanisms for influencing, indirectly the pattern of economic and social development essentially as adjustments, while their physical and social planning have been selective and local. But developing countries like Ghana must face the problem of national development as a whole simultaneous process, and will be in a likely position to integrate the various techniques. The proposals made in the study, therefore, are guided by an integration of various methods and techniques of planning adapted to the needs of Ghana. Fifty-three settlements have beer studied in detail. All these centers ere of population 2,000 and above by the 1960 Population Census of Ghana. The method of study was by direct Survey and information was collected on goods and services available in each center. This provides the information on the existing services at the centers. Goods are considered to be commodities which are sold both in the markets and in shops, and services are such facilities as schools, hospitals end the like. A set of questionnaires was administered in each of the centers and local teachers, heads of institutions and other establishments were greatly relied upon. It is unfortunate that no detailed information could be collected on the distribution and organization of markets in each center. But the magnitude of this shortcoming is greatly minimized by the fact that it was realized that large markets were in almost all cases characteristic of the larger centers, and also that most of the miscellaneous manufactured goods sold in the markets were a also available in the shops. An important characteristic of this study, however, is that the author travelled to each of the 53 centers and this extensive research apart from giving the present day picture also affords the author much confidence in commenting on any regularities or irregularities in his analysis. It is hoped that this study Will be of some value to the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Town and Country Planning Division, Accra and any other individuals or groups of individuals who may be interested in the elaboration of regional planning methods, adapted to the needs and conditions of Ghana.
A Thesis Presented to the Faculty of Architecture Of University of Science and Technology In partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Regional Planning, 1967