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Street children in Accra: Giving voice to the voiceless

Many of Accra's street children are migrants from other parts of Ghana who followed others in the name of greener pastures. Other street children were trafficked to the city centre by older people and were left to fend for themselves. These children find ways to survive by engaging in activities ranging from being porters to selling goods on the street. The boys often earn money by shining shoes, pushing trucks, gathering refuse and carrying it to the dump site. Many also trade sex for money. In reaction to these alarming hardships, a number of important organizations are working to give these street children a voice, using a number of different approaches. Read more or discuss.

Food affordability in Accra, Ghana

The food security situation in Accra is a major concern to the government, civil society organisations, and development partners. Food security covers availability, accessibility, ultilisation, production, and affordability of food as classified by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). This article looks specifically at food affordability in Accra, as the price of food poses problems to more than half of the city's population. Read more or discuss.

Innovating in an urbanizing world: leading from the middle

David Weiss, President and CEO, Global Communities

Last month, I attended UN Habitat's World Urban Forum, the world's premier gathering on the subject of cities and our urban future. Every two years, stakeholders from across the globe come together at the Forum to examine the most pressing issues facing our rapidly urbanizing world. Over the next three decades, 2 billion people will be added to our planet and most of this growth will take place in cities in developing countries. So, for international development organizations like mine, Global Communities, being able to hear perspectives from the growing number of policy makers, foundations, private companies and city residents that travel to the Forum is an invaluable learning opportunity. Read more.

Mapping the city for youth migrants

Migration has often been identified as a central component of urbanisation, and with the rise of a 'mobility' paradigm, whereby movement is recognised as a rising necessity, the focus is on why people move and the nature of such movement. Novel innovations now enable our speed of movement, while services and infrastructure continues to build networks between spaces, people, and opportunities. However, in the case of Sub-Saharan Africa the question has been raised on what happens when urban agglomerations hosting migrants fail to secure livelihoods (see Bryceson, 2011)? Research in migration showcases the articulation of circular patterns of movement, rising rates of return, and greater insecurities in whether goals are achieved. Such raises an additional question - to what extent are those using, adopting, and experiencing, migration becoming stuck within such a mobility paradigm? Further, what do migrants do to get them out of this trap and achieve aspirations? Read more.

Youth focus: can grassroots movements bring in girls' voices?

Data has emerged showcasing the latest trends of our demographic shift — the global population now articulates a 'youth bulge'. The UN-Population Demographic Profile (2010) show children, and 'youths', comprise 1.6bn, and 1.0bn, of the population in less-developed regions. The population is younger; and Sub-Saharan Africa is no exception. Attention is now turning to youths: what young people do, what opportunities they initiate for their families and nations, and what it means to be 'young' in the developing world. However, an important caveat requires recognition: the focus has been particularly male-focused. Our understanding of girls, within both public and private spaces, remains limited. Such is the debate in this blog post — if we are now looking at 'kids' in the city and development, what are the experiences of girls? What can we learn about the city through an engendered perspective? Fundamentally, who is responsible to grant equal rights? Two models of intervention are discussed be, each using alternative methods to provide rights for girls. However, each acts to reinforce the need to improve our understandings on 'being' a girl. Read more.

Whatever happened to Africa's rapid urbanisation?

Deborah Potts, Kings College London / Africa Research Institute

It is widely believed that urbanisation is occurring faster in sub-Saharan Africa than anywhere else in the world, as migrants move from rural to urban settlements. This is a fallacy. While the populations of numerous urban areas are growing rapidly, the urbanisation levels of many countries are increasing slowly – if at all. Natural increase, rather than net in-migration, is the predominant growth factor in most urban populations. African governments, policymakers and international donors need to acknowledge fundamental changes in urbanisation trends, and respond to the irrefutable messages these impart about urban employment, incomes and economic development. Read more.