Population science is of increasing importance to the socio-economic development of African countries due to the great social and demographic change that is currently occurring across the continent. However, most African countries lack relevant and consistent high-class demographic training, especially regarding practical fieldwork. Particularly, there is a dearth of knowledge about the deepening urban poverty, resulting in poorly targeted interventions by governments and international organisations. The PopTRCD project aims to contribute to knowledge on inequities in health and human welfare of the urban poor in Africa and to sensitise local and regional stakeholders on urban poverty and health issues by improving the quality of teaching and learning in population sciences.
To achieve this goal, the “Population Training and Research Capacity for Development” (PopTRCD) project will conduct field research and redesign social science curricula in order to integrate fieldwork on the urban poor into the teaching and learning of population sciences. The project will be carried out by a strong network of Population Studies Departments of three African univerisities: the University of Ghana, the University of Ibadan and the University of Cape Coast. The University of Southampton in the UK will bring its extensive experience in quality curricula in demography and social policy.
Engaging the community
The initial phase of the project will include visits to a research site that will be set up in an urban poor community of Sodom and Gomorrah/Ga-Mashie in Accra, Ghana. Here, the partners will conduct research to collect material on prior studies among the urban poor and collect documentation on population sciences postgraduate curricula. Sodomand Gomorrah is home to migrants from across not only Ghana but people from other West African countries. The selected site therefore represents a unique opportunity to understand urban poverty from diverse perspectives within and beyond Ghana. Community involvement will be a crucial component of the project and will span the entire project period ensuring the participatation of major stakeholders in the choice of topics for study and in the research findings on urban poverty. To this end the project partners will organise a series of meetings with local government authorities, community leaders, community-based organisations and various groups of Sodom and Gomorrah residents.
Integrating field work into teaching and learning programmes
The next key set of activities will consist of practical research through real-life data collection. Here, postgraduate students and staff at participating universities will have the opportunity of conducting surveys on population, health and poverty issues among the urban poor, and designing studies. These field studies will allow for training in cutting-edge skills, especially study design, questionnaire formulation, sampling, data collection and analysis. Additionally, the project will improve students’ and staff skills in handling longitudinal studies – experience and skills that are critically short among many researchers, academic staff, and development planners.
Based on the previous experience and research, the partners will incorporate practical lessons from the field and review population sciences curricula for postgraduate studies at their institutions. Additionally, new course modules will be added to strengthen methodological and analytical skills in both quantitative and qualitative work. Students and academic staff will be brought for training and capacity building using the field site as the place of study. While research staff interests will be re-oriented towards urban poverty and health, student theses and research activities in all partner institutions will evolve from secondary analysis to broader conceptual and analytical consideration of demographic processes.
Contributing to the welfare of the urban poor
PopTRCD will lead to strengthening the knowledge and training professionals with expertise to study inequities in health and human welfare between the urban poor and other sub-groups in Africa. Integrating fieldwork into the curriculum and basing student theses on data from the field site will strengthen the role of the dissertation in postgraduate education, and better transform students into the needed development and planning specialists to support development efforts in Ghana, Ibadan, and Sierra Leone.The experiences from the field site and the lessons in curriculum development will be shared with other institutions (e.g., the Population Studies and Research Institute (PSRI) of the University of Nairobi, Kenya). Even more significantly, the success of the Accra model field site might prompt other universities to replicate the example in other African countries and it will further expand the frontiers of urban poverty-related studies in the sub-region.
Most significantly, through the creation of a training field site in a poor urban community in Ghana, PopTRCD will develop new knowledge of the context and needs of residents in oor rural areas as well as a greater understanding of the structural factors that underlie the severity of urban poverty, the relation between the urban poverty and health and especially the impact on individual household members, particularly the vulnerable – children, women, and the elderly.
University of Southampton, United Kingdom
|EU Co-Funding||EUR 487.685,00|
|Total Budget||EUR 573.747,00|
Prof. Jane Falkingham,
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