Skip to content

Compound Housing Isn’t the Solution to Ghana’s Growing Housing Deficit

Compound houses remain an important housing type in most West African societies. These are mostly single-storey structures with series of single-banked rooms surrounding a square and unroofed courtyard. One side of the enclosed units hosts shared amenities like toilets, kitchens and bathrooms. Compound houses usually provide accommodation for about eight to 15 households. The units are developed incrementally using mostly inexpensive construction materials and local labour. The courtyards usually serve multiple purposes, such as a playground for children, an arena for social interactions, and spaces for cooking or doing laundry. These characteristics make compound houses particularly attractive to low-income occupants. Compound houses make up 57% of Ghana’s 3.4 million housing stock. It is improbable that Ghana’s government can build new houses to meet its 2 million housing deficit. As a result the transformation of existing stock is becoming an attractive option and compound houses seem to be a prime target. This phenomenon is likely to result in rent increment and reduce accommodation alternatives for low income households.