Infrastructure Provision for Informal Settlements: Accra and Buenos Aires
Informal settlements in Argentina are sometimes called “villages of misery,” while in Ghana certain informal settlements are seen as hotbeds of crime and insecurity. Yet these labels do not give a complete picture of their social function. In reality, informal settlements play a central role in mediating access to housing and basic services for low-income populations. Differences in government interventions and financing mechanisms can play an important role in determining how well they meet the needs of their inhabitants.
In a new paper for the Institute on Municipal Finance and Governance (IMFG), Hsi-Chuan Wang investigates the nature of informal settlement policies in Argentina and Ghana. He finds that while Ghana maintains a market approach, Argentina has diverged from the market model. This difference is partly the result of a severe economic depression in Argentina in the early 21st century, coupled with institutional arrangements that give Buenos Aires greater autonomy and leverage at the national level as compared to Accra.
Wang argues that Argentina could learn from Ghana about how public perception of informal settlements affects efforts to improve conditions, while Ghana could learn from Argentina about strengthening financing mechanisms to improve housing and infrastructure provision.