The Changing Spatial Extent of Rivers and Floodplains and its Implications for Flooding: The Case of Kumasi, Ghana

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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Abstract

The spatial extent of rivers and floodplains in urban areas is undergoing significant change despite efforts by national governments and international organisations to conserve and/or improve these inland water systems. The spatial alteration of the rivers and floodplains is pervasive in developing countries, and occurs concurrently with mega trends, such as urbanisation, urban land use or cover change and climate change, among others. The phenomenon is identified among the most apparent urban environmental transformations in recent times, and is often associated with flooding
in cities in these countries. However, there has been little detailed research
concerning the loss of the rivers and floodplains and its consequences for flooding, especially in urban Africa. This research addresses this gap by holistically explaining the spatial changes in rivers and floodplains in urban Ghana, with particular emphasis on trend, nature, drivers, and flood impacts of changes in the spatial extent of these inland water systems.

This research employed a pragmatic paradigm and mixed methods research
approach, and used Kumasi, the fastest urbanising city in Ghana, as a case study. Spatial, socio-economic and hydro-meteorological data were combined to explain the multiple dimensions of the changes in the spatial extent of the rivers and floodplains. The spatial and hydro-metrological data were obtained from secondary sources, while the socio-economic data were mainly collected using a mix of qualitative methods, such as institutional and property owners' semi-structured interviews, community focus group discussions and spatial surveys, during fieldwork between June and September 2013.

The research found that the spatial extent of the rivers and floodplains has drastically reduced, as shown by a decrease in the number and area of these inland water systems. Some rivers and floodplains were replaced with urban development through encroachment and land filling, while others were degraded by excessive pollution, eutrophication and/or sedimentation. The remaining rivers and floodplains in Kumasi can be characterised as a fragmented inland water network with poor ecological and hydrological vitality and functionality. The findings also revealed that the degradation and loss of the rivers and floodplains were underpinned by multiple but interrelated anthropogenic drivers. These drivers were largely processes and manifestations of uncontrolled rapid urban development, as well as poor policy and institutional frameworks.

The research findings indicated that a key outcome of the loss of rivers and
floodplains was an increased incidence of riverine flood disasters with extended
retention of floodwater. The floods have had widespread adverse impacts on the
wellbeing of victims, despite coping and adaption approaches being developed to accommodate these disasters. Plausible future scenarios analysis suggested that application of proactive water resources and urban management practices, informed by better legislation and policies, could alleviate the rapid loss of rivers and floodplains and the consequent flooding. Specific steps recommended by this research to address the loss of rivers and floodplains include developing context specific river basin plans that assign property rights and (alternative) uses to the water-related areas, (re)conceiving rivers and floodplains as urban green structures, and removing institutional/stakeholder segmentation in urban and water resources management.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Charles Sturt University
Award date01 Jul 2016
Place of PublicationAustralia
Publisher
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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floodplain
flooding
river
urban development
disaster
institutional framework
international organization
property rights
segmentation
fieldwork
eutrophication
management practice
urbanization
land cover
legislation
stakeholder
river basin
urban area
developing world
loss

Cite this

@phdthesis{1e21fd90c3ac436fa04dae1129d28c20,
title = "The Changing Spatial Extent of Rivers and Floodplains and its Implications for Flooding: The Case of Kumasi, Ghana",
abstract = "The spatial extent of rivers and floodplains in urban areas is undergoing significant change despite efforts by national governments and international organisations to conserve and/or improve these inland water systems. The spatial alteration of the rivers and floodplains is pervasive in developing countries, and occurs concurrently with mega trends, such as urbanisation, urban land use or cover change and climate change, among others. The phenomenon is identified among the most apparent urban environmental transformations in recent times, and is often associated with floodingin cities in these countries. However, there has been little detailed researchconcerning the loss of the rivers and floodplains and its consequences for flooding, especially in urban Africa. This research addresses this gap by holistically explaining the spatial changes in rivers and floodplains in urban Ghana, with particular emphasis on trend, nature, drivers, and flood impacts of changes in the spatial extent of these inland water systems.This research employed a pragmatic paradigm and mixed methods researchapproach, and used Kumasi, the fastest urbanising city in Ghana, as a case study. Spatial, socio-economic and hydro-meteorological data were combined to explain the multiple dimensions of the changes in the spatial extent of the rivers and floodplains. The spatial and hydro-metrological data were obtained from secondary sources, while the socio-economic data were mainly collected using a mix of qualitative methods, such as institutional and property owners' semi-structured interviews, community focus group discussions and spatial surveys, during fieldwork between June and September 2013.The research found that the spatial extent of the rivers and floodplains has drastically reduced, as shown by a decrease in the number and area of these inland water systems. Some rivers and floodplains were replaced with urban development through encroachment and land filling, while others were degraded by excessive pollution, eutrophication and/or sedimentation. The remaining rivers and floodplains in Kumasi can be characterised as a fragmented inland water network with poor ecological and hydrological vitality and functionality. The findings also revealed that the degradation and loss of the rivers and floodplains were underpinned by multiple but interrelated anthropogenic drivers. These drivers were largely processes and manifestations of uncontrolled rapid urban development, as well as poor policy and institutional frameworks.The research findings indicated that a key outcome of the loss of rivers andfloodplains was an increased incidence of riverine flood disasters with extendedretention of floodwater. The floods have had widespread adverse impacts on thewellbeing of victims, despite coping and adaption approaches being developed to accommodate these disasters. Plausible future scenarios analysis suggested that application of proactive water resources and urban management practices, informed by better legislation and policies, could alleviate the rapid loss of rivers and floodplains and the consequent flooding. Specific steps recommended by this research to address the loss of rivers and floodplains include developing context specific river basin plans that assign property rights and (alternative) uses to the water-related areas, (re)conceiving rivers and floodplains as urban green structures, and removing institutional/stakeholder segmentation in urban and water resources management.",
author = "Paul Amoateng",
year = "2016",
language = "English",
publisher = "Charles Sturt University",
address = "Australia",
school = "Charles Sturt University",

}

The Changing Spatial Extent of Rivers and Floodplains and its Implications for Flooding : The Case of Kumasi, Ghana. / Amoateng, Paul.

Australia : Charles Sturt University, 2016. 310 p.

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

TY - THES

T1 - The Changing Spatial Extent of Rivers and Floodplains and its Implications for Flooding

T2 - The Case of Kumasi, Ghana

AU - Amoateng, Paul

PY - 2016

Y1 - 2016

N2 - The spatial extent of rivers and floodplains in urban areas is undergoing significant change despite efforts by national governments and international organisations to conserve and/or improve these inland water systems. The spatial alteration of the rivers and floodplains is pervasive in developing countries, and occurs concurrently with mega trends, such as urbanisation, urban land use or cover change and climate change, among others. The phenomenon is identified among the most apparent urban environmental transformations in recent times, and is often associated with floodingin cities in these countries. However, there has been little detailed researchconcerning the loss of the rivers and floodplains and its consequences for flooding, especially in urban Africa. This research addresses this gap by holistically explaining the spatial changes in rivers and floodplains in urban Ghana, with particular emphasis on trend, nature, drivers, and flood impacts of changes in the spatial extent of these inland water systems.This research employed a pragmatic paradigm and mixed methods researchapproach, and used Kumasi, the fastest urbanising city in Ghana, as a case study. Spatial, socio-economic and hydro-meteorological data were combined to explain the multiple dimensions of the changes in the spatial extent of the rivers and floodplains. The spatial and hydro-metrological data were obtained from secondary sources, while the socio-economic data were mainly collected using a mix of qualitative methods, such as institutional and property owners' semi-structured interviews, community focus group discussions and spatial surveys, during fieldwork between June and September 2013.The research found that the spatial extent of the rivers and floodplains has drastically reduced, as shown by a decrease in the number and area of these inland water systems. Some rivers and floodplains were replaced with urban development through encroachment and land filling, while others were degraded by excessive pollution, eutrophication and/or sedimentation. The remaining rivers and floodplains in Kumasi can be characterised as a fragmented inland water network with poor ecological and hydrological vitality and functionality. The findings also revealed that the degradation and loss of the rivers and floodplains were underpinned by multiple but interrelated anthropogenic drivers. These drivers were largely processes and manifestations of uncontrolled rapid urban development, as well as poor policy and institutional frameworks.The research findings indicated that a key outcome of the loss of rivers andfloodplains was an increased incidence of riverine flood disasters with extendedretention of floodwater. The floods have had widespread adverse impacts on thewellbeing of victims, despite coping and adaption approaches being developed to accommodate these disasters. Plausible future scenarios analysis suggested that application of proactive water resources and urban management practices, informed by better legislation and policies, could alleviate the rapid loss of rivers and floodplains and the consequent flooding. Specific steps recommended by this research to address the loss of rivers and floodplains include developing context specific river basin plans that assign property rights and (alternative) uses to the water-related areas, (re)conceiving rivers and floodplains as urban green structures, and removing institutional/stakeholder segmentation in urban and water resources management.

AB - The spatial extent of rivers and floodplains in urban areas is undergoing significant change despite efforts by national governments and international organisations to conserve and/or improve these inland water systems. The spatial alteration of the rivers and floodplains is pervasive in developing countries, and occurs concurrently with mega trends, such as urbanisation, urban land use or cover change and climate change, among others. The phenomenon is identified among the most apparent urban environmental transformations in recent times, and is often associated with floodingin cities in these countries. However, there has been little detailed researchconcerning the loss of the rivers and floodplains and its consequences for flooding, especially in urban Africa. This research addresses this gap by holistically explaining the spatial changes in rivers and floodplains in urban Ghana, with particular emphasis on trend, nature, drivers, and flood impacts of changes in the spatial extent of these inland water systems.This research employed a pragmatic paradigm and mixed methods researchapproach, and used Kumasi, the fastest urbanising city in Ghana, as a case study. Spatial, socio-economic and hydro-meteorological data were combined to explain the multiple dimensions of the changes in the spatial extent of the rivers and floodplains. The spatial and hydro-metrological data were obtained from secondary sources, while the socio-economic data were mainly collected using a mix of qualitative methods, such as institutional and property owners' semi-structured interviews, community focus group discussions and spatial surveys, during fieldwork between June and September 2013.The research found that the spatial extent of the rivers and floodplains has drastically reduced, as shown by a decrease in the number and area of these inland water systems. Some rivers and floodplains were replaced with urban development through encroachment and land filling, while others were degraded by excessive pollution, eutrophication and/or sedimentation. The remaining rivers and floodplains in Kumasi can be characterised as a fragmented inland water network with poor ecological and hydrological vitality and functionality. The findings also revealed that the degradation and loss of the rivers and floodplains were underpinned by multiple but interrelated anthropogenic drivers. These drivers were largely processes and manifestations of uncontrolled rapid urban development, as well as poor policy and institutional frameworks.The research findings indicated that a key outcome of the loss of rivers andfloodplains was an increased incidence of riverine flood disasters with extendedretention of floodwater. The floods have had widespread adverse impacts on thewellbeing of victims, despite coping and adaption approaches being developed to accommodate these disasters. Plausible future scenarios analysis suggested that application of proactive water resources and urban management practices, informed by better legislation and policies, could alleviate the rapid loss of rivers and floodplains and the consequent flooding. Specific steps recommended by this research to address the loss of rivers and floodplains include developing context specific river basin plans that assign property rights and (alternative) uses to the water-related areas, (re)conceiving rivers and floodplains as urban green structures, and removing institutional/stakeholder segmentation in urban and water resources management.

M3 - Doctoral Thesis

PB - Charles Sturt University

CY - Australia

ER -