La Trobe
1219864_Gaisie,E_2023.pdf (6.28 MB)
Download file

Planning for context-based climate adaptation: Flood management inquiry in Accra

Download (6.28 MB)
journal contribution
posted on 2023-01-20, 03:33 authored by Eric GaisieEric Gaisie, Patrick Brandful Cobbinah

Discourses on climate change often characterise African cities as homogenous, experiencing the same climate events and requiring the same planning solutions. However, African cities are diverse and different across regions, scales, and contexts, despite some resemblance of urban problems. This paper addresses the generalisation of climate change issues and urban planning responses in African cities by: (i) exploring how climate impact, specifically flooding is different in one African city in terms of shaping the urban space; and (ii) examining the usefulness of city-focused and driven urban planning responses in addressing these risks. Using Accra, Ghana’s capital, as a case study and mixed methods approach, findings indicate that despite the commonality of flood events across African cities, Accra’s case is caused by a complex web of locally induced factors such as limited understanding of the geography and hydrology of the city by urban planning authorities, poor practice of informality, and changing weather patterns. Yet, the limited understanding of local driving causes of flooding in Accra has contributed to the use of unworkable top-down general responses (e.g., evictions and demolitions). The case of Accra demonstrates that increased preparedness (involving individuals, households, and institutions) is required to enhance adaptation to flood events rather than the current top-down response approach. In this case, we argue that a general approach to urban planning to address flood events across African cities may not work in all situations. Areas requiring further research are proffered, notably ways for capturing, integrating, and disseminating local knowledge in internationally funded flood planning and management initiatives. 


Publication Date



Environmental Science & Policy




(p. 97-108)





Rights Statement

© 2023 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (

Usage metrics