Church in Ghana Donates Funds to Hundreds of Slum Dwellers after Demolitions

Samuel Zan Akologo, Executive Secretary of Caritas Ghana with Staff explaining to slum dwellers of Old Fadama in Accra about the donation at a presentation ceremony at the Sacred Heart Parish at Derby Avenue, Accra., on May 2, 2020.

Mumuni Mohammed, a motorbike rider, is one of the over 800 people that were left homeless after fire razed down hundreds of ramshackle structures in Old Fadama slum on the fringes of Ghana’s capital city, Accra.

A week after the fire incident, Ghanaian authorities on April 15 demolished more structures in the slums, an incident that left another 1,000 slum residents homeless, bringing the total number of homeless people from the two incidents to over 2, 000.

To help the homeless persons cope in the harsh conditions, Caritas Ghana, the charity arm of the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference (GCBC) as part of the conference’s COVID-19 nine-month National Response Plan has stepped in, making donations that will see at least 160 families made up of 630 people overcome challenges of homelessness.

In an interview with ACI Africa correspondent, Mohammed said that he was forced to spend nights in a mosque after his home was demolished alongside others in a move that Ghanaian authorities say will prevent flooding as rains approach.

“The unfortunate incident had made life hard for me in the capital, hence I sleep in the Mosque around Old Fadama,” said Mohammed.


His experiences were shared by Mustapha Amita, 25, who was previously selling sandals in the Central Business hub of Accra but who had been rendered jobless due to the COVID-19 directives that limit movement in the country to contain the spread of the disease.

“Due to the destruction I sleep under canopies,” Amita said, adding, “But I am happy that the Bishop’s support will cushion us for a while.”

The father of one said the destruction had affected every slum dweller, especially women who could not brave the cold of the night outside and were now forced to share small rooms.

Since the demolitions, more than 10 people have been sharing a tiny room, contributing GHc10.00 ($2.00) every week towards rent. It is a situation that critics in the West African country say thwarts efforts to adhere to COVID-19 safety measures, especially social distancing.

At the presentation of the GHc20, 000 ($4,000) ceremony on Saturday May 2, Samuel Zan Akologo, Executive Secretary of Caritas Ghana, said the humanitarian gesture was the main objective of the Church’s COVID-19 Plan.

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The plan has the purpose of contributing to the national response to the pandemic by ensuring basic needs support to vulnerable persons as well as providing temporary shelter and homes in a lockdown situation.

The aim of the plan, according to Zan Akologo, is also to reach out to Ghanaians with spiritual and psychological support and to improve public education through information dissemination with the Ghana Health Service and the World Health Organization (WHO).

Describing the Old Fadama slum demolitions as unfortunate, Zan Akologo empathized with the displaced squatters and prayed that with the support of government and other organizations, their needs would be met, and if possible arrangements made for them to go back to their homes, adding that “the ultimate plan is to look at the resettlement which the leadership of the Catholic Church is very much concerned.”

“My wish is that these internally displaced persons from the recent destruction in Old Fadama will eventually make the voluntary decision to return to their home communities,” he said.

He added, “The misery and indignity that these families now live in Accra is just too painful to contemplate for any human being. Moreover, most of them have lost their jobs here in Accra due to the adverse impact of COVID-19.”


“I am happy that Caritas Ghana can accompany and resettle them in their respective home communities. This is an opportunity to retrain them in new skills for more decent jobs in the future,” the Caritas official said.

The displaced squatters also received cash with support from Star Ghana Foundation of up to GHc200 ($80).

Old Fadama is a slum area located at Agbogbloshie, Accra which was renamed “City of God” by the Catholic Archdiocese of Accra to replace what was popularly known as Sodom and Gomorrah.

The "City of God Project" is one of the several social service interventions provided by the Church. The slum area is home to over 150,000 slum dwellers mostly poor and vulnerable who are scrap dealers, motorbike riders and head porters also known as “Kayayei.”

Yussif Alhassan Antabayim, the leader of the part of Old Fadama that was demolished told ACI Africa correspondent that the demolitions presented a double tragedy for the slums residents.

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“We thank Caritas Ghana for the humanitarian gesture, because the demolition of our houses by the Accra Metropolitan Assembly was a double agony for us. It had actually made it difficult for us to adhere to the social distancing directives,” said Mr. Antabayim.

He narrated that a few weeks before the demolition, residents who had been left homeless from the fire incident had moved in with other families, causing congestion in the single-roomed wooden structures.

The destruction exercise has also been condemned by many Ghanaians as well as civil society organizations in the country.

The Minority Spokesperson on Communications in Ghana’s Parliament, A. B. A Fuseini, upon a visit to the area on April 16, stated that the demolitions beat logic in a country that was encouraging people to stay at home in order to avoid COVID-19 infections.

 “If you demolish someone’s house and you ask the person to stay home, where will the person stay,” he asked, calling on the Accra Metropolitan Assembly to exercise discretion in this particular matter.

Acknowledging the illegality of the settlement, Fuseini noted that “the status of the slum dwellers should not be reduced to that of animals” and called for humane treatment for the displaced squatters.

Some of the displaced squatters are now calling on the government to help them go back to their homes, away from the slum.

“We want to go back to our hometowns because now we are not working and, in this place, you pay for everything,” Mohammed appealed in an interview with ACI Africa correspondent.

He added, “At our hometowns, we will at the very least get a place to sleep. Our parents and other relatives will also help us survive until the lockdown in Ghana is over.”