Accra’s market fires are devastating to casual merchants

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Ghana’s casual city markets play a key function within the nation’s financial system. They make use of greater than 80% of the individuals who work within the casual sector. They create livelihoods for merchants, give city residents entry to important family merchandise, and add worth to the tradition of city life.

Most market merchants depend on credit score from monetary establishments, household and associates. Few have insurance coverage. With out insurance coverage, merchants are left susceptible to fireplace disasters, as city markets are inclined to fireplace outbreaks.

There aren’t any statistics on the variety of fires which have gutted markets in Ghana. That’s as a result of the numbers fall underneath the Ghana Nationwide Hearth Service’s classification of economic fires. In 2022 there have been 986 recorded industrial fires in Ghana.

City market fires within the casual sector have acquired comparatively little consideration from native governments in comparison with flood disasters. And analysis reveals that native authorities authorities have failed to incorporate hearth threat of their city administration and improvement plans.

Our examine confirmed that threat communication is a vital a part of hearth catastrophe administration. Offering sufficient info on hearth dangers is essential in catastrophe prevention and response. However efficient hearth threat communication requires that authorities have interaction repeatedly with communities. On this case, merchants. It should accomplish that in a manner that attracts on group information and practices.

Danger communication in casual city markets

We did our analysis within the Makola and Nima markets in Accra, Ghana’s capital metropolis. The Makola market is massive, having greater than 35,000 merchants and hawkers. It was established in 1924 and has grown in an unregulated manner. The Nima market is far smaller however has additionally grown haphazardly in a slum space.

The collection of these two markets enabled us to match and perceive socio-cultural elements affecting hearth threat communication.

We mixed interviews and focus group discussions with market ladies, executives of merchants’ unions, and officers of the Ghana Nationwide Hearth Service, the Nationwide Catastrophe Administration Organisation, and the Regional Coordinating Council.

Considered one of our key findings was that casual merchants lose belief within the authorities once they fail to maintain the guarantees made after earlier hearth disasters. This results in merchants’ mistrust of threat communication info and actions by authorities.

As well as, hearth threat communication by the authorities has been ineffective due to restricted engagement between merchants and metropolis authorities. Merchants informed us {that a} steady relationship with officers of the Accra Metropolitan Meeting would have helped scale back market fires.

There was additionally the difficulty of language, which hampered efficient hearth threat communication. Some merchants stated that almost all radio discussions on hearth dangers and hazards had been performed in languages they didn’t perceive. As an example, within the Nima market, which is dominated by merchants from northern Ghana and neighbouring west African international locations, the merchants talked about that fireside threat communication was delivered by merchants’ affiliation executives principally in English and different southern languages. Merchants weren’t proficient in these. Clearly, being unable to grasp a selected language impacts the flexibility to grasp a message.

Spiritual beliefs additionally contributed to the best way merchants perceived hearth threat communication messages. Some merchants attributed hearth outbreaks to the wrath of God on some merchants as a consequence of perceived corrupt buying and selling actions or punishment for ethical failures.

High-down method doesn’t work

Our analysis reveals that top-down threat communication involving authorities has been ineffective in lowering disasters. Analysis reveals that communication is only when it entails authorities and residents in danger or affected by disasters.

This enables for the event of communication methods which are embedded within the cultures and environments of the communities.

Every group’s tradition comprises methods and practices for coping with disasters. Tapping into this makes threat communication simpler and builds social resilience. It shapes a group’s notion of dangers.

Our findings level to points which metropolis authorities and catastrophe administration establishments ought to contemplate when planning communication on hearth dangers in casual city markets.

Firstly, they need to incorporate merchants’ circumstances in all communication plans. They need to additionally work inside every market’s present social constructions, together with merchants’ associations. Belief is essential – so catastrophe administration businesses should reply to the wants of merchants and, most significantly, reside as much as their tasks and guarantees.

To be efficient, hearth threat communication methods should not solely be supported by formal establishments akin to authorities businesses but in addition be rooted in and delicate to every market’s socio-cultural dynamics and networks.

Stephen Leonard Mensah, graduate analysis assistant on the College of Ghana, is a contributing creator



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