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The neighborhood concept for the neighborhood of Alajo is based on the historic English idea of the village common or Village Green. The village common provided a central location where meetings and congregations could take place and was a public space open to all. This area was land, usually in private ownership, over which the community had “rights of common.” This land was generally open, unfenced and remote, particularly in the upland areas of England and Wales. In the Spanish colonial architectural tradition, a town plaza, centrally located and in sight of the church provided the same communal and social function. In traditional African societies, residential areas are divided into extended family compounds with common cooking areas. These examples provides ample evidence for the town center concept as a precedent for community organization. The town center is conceptualized for Alajo as the multi-purpose nucleus of social and civic activity. A Common is to be created on prime space near the center of the village on the highest ground well out of the floodplain. This location is highly visible, safe and is a natural choice for an evacuation or gathering site in case of emergency. The Common creates a social space for recreation and interaction and also provides a central area for the location of civic services that directly promote the development, health and well being of the residents of Alajo. This concept, while emphasizing relocation of dwellings within the floodplain, is gradual and based on a long-term plan of 30 years. It is minimally incursive, focuses on local transport and respects the natural and established existing patterns of physical and social growth. The plan also respects cultural preferences like the extended family It encourages Alajo collectively, and the model and the high-density housing. This plan creates an locally-oriented, self-reliant environment and approach to daily life. villagers individually, to use tools and agencies within ready reach at the Common to make themselves more self-sufficient both politically and economically. It is envisaged
All these agencies will provide direct assistance to Alajo residents and also offer employment. The Common is a green space with pedestrian footpaths. just two private clinics operate in Alajo).that this 30-year plan will be financed with a combination of national economic programs by the Ghana government with external partners and financing agencies. (Another large park/evacuation space will be constructed in the northeastern Alajo is a mere 6 km outside of the well-developed central and could thus be poised to be a very desirable . 278 An area is set aside on the larger parcel for agricultural purposes. and finally. young people of working age with education and prospects of employment in the industrial sector will be offered incentives to relocate to high-density. Proposed facilities include a public primary care clinic is proposed (currently. fire station. a roster of agencies along its perimeter. residential neighborhood over the next 50 years. The Common The Common. desirable dwellings with potable piped water to individual homes and a piped sewerage system. apartment-style housing in the new Tema developments. at the intersection of Maamobi High Road and Alajo Road.) The Common will be anchored by the Community Resource Center. trees and street furniture. a permanent green and goods market and a childcare cooperative are also proposed. long-term investment in expensive infrastructure to relocate residents from the floodplain to safe. and employment office with vocational training center. Residential Areas This proposal makes a significant. part of the neighborhood. The Common also hosts social clubs including those interested in cards. To immediately ease the human congestion and create some space. A meeting hall. banking cooperative for micro-credit geared to housing financing. will have an area of approximately 75 m2. weaving. This plan is envisioned as long-term housing and not a short-term temporary solution. and the popular game of oware.
they will travel in bus lanes each which also provide bike paths and pedestrian lanes. 279 . Transportation The town center concept emphasizes management of pedestrian traffic. Also.The initial movement within Alajo will be relocation of households living within the 25year floodplain to gradually fill-in space in extant development at the northernmost boundary of the neighborhood where the development consists of lower-middle income. This plan proposes three-story rowhouses oriented with the long side to the street. This encourages transportation alternatives such as buses and bicycles. a new car/pedestrian bridge at the Alajo/Nsawam Road intersection is proposed. A density of 96 people per hectare is anticipated. one-story houses. mixed-income neighborhoods at the center of the neighborhood. The first north-south artery will be along Alajo Road and the east-west along Maamobi High Street. Two major bus routes are proposed. large. as houses will not be air-conditioned. and alleyways which provide access to emergency vehicles particularly fire trucks . These houses will be owned jointly by up to eight members of an extended family. trucks making local deliveries and picking up garbage. maximizing cross-ventilation.5 m by 10 m. Alajo is too densely populated to add any major infrastructure for vehicular traffic. In the town center concept. The smallest parcels. This housing plan is dense and necessarily compact as the 25-year floodplain becomes a designated no-build zone. The town center plan incorporates a proposal to relocate floodplain residents to new rowhouses through microfinancing that would create denser. automobile traffic through the neighborhood is permitted but is made inconvenient by the narrowness of streets and the bans on cars during rush. In addition to the center as an evacuation site. this will create new evacuation routes to the north. and emergency vehicles. will include small semi-private back yards. which could be developed as vegetable gardens. A typical block in Alajo will be approximately 100 m by 60 m. Streets will easily accommodate the traffic of tro-tros.and garbage collection trucks. lots of 16.
The resulting open space should be reserved as park or urban farmland that 280 . financial. and so flooding must be addressed locally and at the regional level through engineering and remediation measures. The focus is on small clean manufacturing and cottage industry and technology clusters. and possibly a plant for the drying and canning of fruit that can be trucked and then shipped from Tema. such as South Africa. and social reasons. This plan proposes a multi-faceted solution that should be implemented in its entirety. showing an embrace of technology that could support a franchise of Internet cafes with meeting centers. Information Technology Offshore data processing and customer service for European and American corporations and their backoffice operations is an option for Alajo’s economy. Such a proposal would need careful government management to ensure corporate commitment long enough to impart transferable skills and leave behind an industrial infrastructure that can continue to benefit the residents. Free Trade Zones These enterprises might operate in a free trade zone. phone. Ghana might even offer these services for companies in more thriving African economies. making Alajo a more desirable location than its neighbors. Investing in and establishing information and communication technology (ICT) infrastructure will make Alajo a desirable location for small businesses. and Internet services dot Alajo. Flood Management Population living on the banks of the Odaw and tributaries should be moved to higher grounds. Kiosks for fax. Risk Management and Environmental Sustainability Moving the entire population of Alajo is unlikely to be feasible for political.Industrial Areas Manufacturing Light industry will be dispersed throughout the neighborhood in clusters.
As part of any flood mitigation strategy. This option is least desirable because it treats the symptoms of the problem rather than its cause. allowing the river to overflow its banks periodically (as happens naturally). This delay leads to a limitation of the height of the flood wave by spreading an equal amount of water over time. economically sound. Alajo residents and their representatives must coordinate with their counterparts in the Accra Municipal Assembly to devise a practical.can safely flood without significant human or material losses. and leave residents vulnerable only to extreme flooding events. Clearly. This open space therefore serves as a buffer between the people and the river. 281 . The design capacity of the Odaw River and its tributaries should be for the 100-year flood instead of the current 25 or 50-year design. thereby reducing the flood hazard. this strategy can achieve the most effective results when done in a concerted and integrated manner at the city and regional level. This would limit the number of flooding events in the floodplain. and environmentally rational strategy for reforestation. restoring the catchment’s natural land cover offers crucial reduction of flooding hazard. However. sediment traps are an important part of any engineered drainage network and can be designed to serve as retention basins delaying flow upstream. The option of last resort is to design sediment traps along the channel to prevent silting by sediment and rubbish. Reforestation Excessive urbanization reduces the time it takes for a flood wave to form and thus increases its height. Reserving open space and reforesting it are effective at mitigating floods at a regional level.
282 . well out of the floodplain and can serve as an excellent evacuation site.Disasters The plan proposes universal potable water through individual house hook-ups. The Common is on the highest point of the area. routinized garbage collection and piped sewerage to safeguard public health and reduce the vulnerability of Alajo residents to diseases and epidemics. All new construction will be built to comply with seismic codes codes. This plan proposes to reduce susceptibility to fire with good water access. fire-resistant building codes in new buildings and a lookout tower at the firehouse.
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