Volume 12, Issue 2, 2020
Authors: John E. K. AKUBIA, Paul W. K. YANKSON
HOW TO CLASSIFY THE URBAN AREA? A PERSPECTIVE OF MULTI-CRITERIA APPROACH IN THE CONTEXT OF HYPER-DIVERSITY IN SETTLEMENTS IN GHANA
Ghana is experiencing high population growth, rapid urbanization and a constantly accelerating growth of urban areas. Yet, the accurate delineation of urban settlements remains a major challenge faced by urban planners. While the emergent urban settlements are being characterized by highly-diverse, heterogeneous, and multiplicity of features, the need to rethink how best to classify new urban growth areas, beyond the commonly used population threshold of ≥ 5000 inhabitants, is becoming increasingly inadequate. Thus, this paper proposes a multi-criteria approach, drawing on the concept of ‘hyper-diversity’. Eight key dimensions – urban form, built-up extent, socio-economic functions, land-use dynamics, occupational structure, and governance structure and population size – were identified as a guide to the delineation of new urban settlements. Inferring these dimensions requires accurate spatial and statistical data on the prevailing land-use dynamics. Thus, the paper argues that analysing satellite-based remote sensing and ground truth-gathered data may provide standardized and timely information on the aforementioned dimensions. Applying this multi-dimensional approach may be useful for Ghana and similar countries where there is a lack of regular mapping of urban areas.
Key words: urban classification, population size, hyper-diversity, satellite-based remote sensing, Ghana.