Fire risk communication in the urban informal sector: Evidence from traditional marketplaces in Accra, Ghana

Matthew Abunyewah, Seth A. Okyere, Louis K. Frimpong, Stephen K. Diko, Michael O. Erdiaw-Kwasie, Victor Boateng

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Abstract

Urban marketplace fires in Ghana are chronic, devasting in economic losses and disproportionately impacting informal sector workers. Yet, the scholarly works on urban disasters have focused on hydrometeorological and other man-made disasters to the neglect of marketplace fires, particularly the challenges in risk communication between emergency management agencies and urban marketplace workers. In seeking to extend the emerging but scant work on urban marketplace fires in Ghana, this paper analysed fire risk communication to understand how socio-cultural factors influence the perceptions and protective behavioral strategies of traders in two traditional urban marketplaces of Accra. In-depth interviews with both public agencies and traders showed that traders’ social networks and interactions are important sources and channels for fire risk communication, albeit unharnessed by formal emergency management agencies. It also revealed how cultural elements such as religious beliefs about fire risks affect proactiveness in fire risk preparedness and response. To ensure effective risk communication about marketplace fires, this paper calls attention to and mainstreaming of socio-cultural aspects of everyday life in marketplaces into disaster risk planning and management.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-24
Number of pages24
JournalRisk, Hazards and Crisis in Public Policy
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 15 Sep 2022

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