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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - IRI THESys

Riskscapes of flooding in a rapidly urbanising coastal region: The case of the Densu Delta, Accra, Ghana

Fanny Frick-Trzebitzky is a doctoral student at the Departments of Geography at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and King's College London. Her main research interests are urban disaster risk management, adaptation to global environmental change in urban coastal regions, and cross-scale interactions in environmental governance.

Lagune Gleefe Merge

Photo: Structures built into the wetlands in Gleefe. Flood risk is hightened by poor waste collection services in the community.

This doctoral thesis seeks to identify how local patterns of flood risk in a rapidly urbanising area in Accra, Ghana are produced in discourse and practice, at multiple scales. The purpose of this thesis is to understand the constraints and potential room for manoeuvre to reducing inequities within current riskscapes. The Densu Delta, a rapidly urbanising area on the western fringe of Accra, serves as a case study. The overall research question is:

What are the (cross-scale) relations and dynamics of power that shape the distribution of flood risks, and how are they materialised in the currently highly uneven patterns of flood risk around the Densu Delta?

The concept of ‚riskscape‘ is reframed is reframed based on the concepts of coping, adaptation and adaptive capacity and combined with Bourdieu's field analalysis to serve as the analytical frame. Objectives of the research are in particular (a) to demonstrate the influence of power relations on the systemic linkages of water discharge management,urbanisation and ecosystem functioning (here: flood protection), (b) to identify the spatial patterns of risk that arisefrom these correlations, and (c) to identify gaps and room for manoeuvre for adaptive governance andtransformative development. Key methods applied are discourse analysis, geospatial analyses, participatory mapping and qualitative stakeholder interviews. The combination of methods from empirical social research with geographical analyses will generate a systemic understanding of the interplay of waste- and rainwater discharge and processes of urbanisation at the coast. The research approach allows for the derivation of stakeholder-specific room for manoeuvre towards transformative development of the coastal water discharge system in Accra.

The research forms part of the junior research group project WaterPower.

Fanny Frick-Trzebitzky graduated in Environment and Sustainable Development from University College London (MSc)and in Landscape Architecture and Planning from TU München (BSc). She pursues a joint Phd between the Departments of Geography Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and King's College London. Prior to this she was research assistant in the research group Climate Change and Sustainable Development at Humboldt-Universität. Fanny holds a scholarship from the Heinrich Böll Foundation as member of the Transformation Research Cluster.




Fanny Frick-Trzebitzky, Doctoral Researcher

THESys Graduate Program
Phone: +49 (0)30 20936869
E-mail: fanny.frick.1@hu-berlin.de