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Tackling urban poverty in Africa

The School of Social Sciences at the University of Southampton, in partnership with the Regional Institute for Population Studies at the University of Ghana, has won a £500,000 grant from the European Union for a three-year project to strengthen research into urban poverty and health issues in the West African country of Ghana.

The Population Training and Research Capacity for Development (PopTRCD) initiative will enable social scientists at Southampton to work alongside colleagues in three African universities in examining the effects of the social and demographic change sweeping across the continent.

Professor Jane Falkingham, professor of demography and international social policy at the University of Southampton, who is leading the research, said: "There is very little knowledge about deepening urban poverty in countries such as Ghana, so it is difficult for governments and international organisations to take action.

"The PopTRCD project aims to increase knowledge about inequities in health and welfare among poor people in the cities of Africa by improving the quality of teaching and learning in population sciences."

The project will involve Population Studies Departments of three African universities: the University of Ghana, the University of Ibadan in Nigeria, and the University of Cape Coast in Ghana. Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone, Sierra Leone, is also an associate of the PopTRCD project. The University of Southampton will contribute its extensive experience in demography and health policy.

The research will include meetings with community leaders in Accra, the capital of Ghana and surveys on population, health and poverty issues among local people carried out by postgraduate students from all four universities.

These field studies will train the students in social science research skills, especially study design, questionnaire formulation, sampling, data collection and analysis. The project will also improve student and staff skills in handling longitudinal studies, abilities that are critically short among many researchers, academic staff, and development planners.

Professor Falkingham added: "PopTRCD will give professionals in Africa the knowledge and expertise to study inequities in health and human welfare between the urban poor and other groups in Africa. The work will help transform students into much-needed specialists to support development efforts in Africa in future."

The Southampton research team also includes Professor Nyovani Madise, Dr Zoe Matthews and Dr Amos Channon. The Ghanaian team is led by Professor Francis Dodoo from the Regional Institute for Population Studies, University of Ghana.

Sue Wilson | alfa
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