Thursday, May 02, 2013

Ghana Pro-actively Streamline’s Urban Communities and Growth - Minister

Some participants at the forum
By Patrick Baidoo

Continuous migration of persons living in rural communities to settle in urban centres across Ghana has resulted in a 52% urban population growth. This means that there are more people living in urban communities than rural enclaves presently.

Out of this urban population half or 26% according to statistics are living in slums which are right within these urban communities and they lack access to proper water, sanitation and infrastructure meant for their wellbeing and growth.

Hence, the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD) recently launched a National Urban Policy with details to curtail this development and also upgrade urban communities with adequate and accessible amenities for urban dwellers including slums.

It’s worth also to note that with an annual population growth of 4% per annum the citizens keep trooping to the urban centres daily from different corners of the countries to seek greener pastures, economic or other reasons, a phenomenon which is having a toll on the inadequate infrastructure in the communities, thus the introduction of a National Urban Policy Action Plan to tackle this menace heads on.

To fast track the implementation of guidelines in the policy the Ministry has held a National Urban Forum in Accra with stakeholders to share the strategic goals and modes of operation as pertained in the Action Plan for rollout in all districts, municipalities and metropolitan communities.

The forum was on the theme:  “The New National Urban Policy: Its Implications and Challenges to Ghana’s Urban Development”.

Addressing participants, the sector Minister, Hon. Akwasi Opong-Fosu, indicated that the introduction of the policy and an action plan were geared towards streamlining the growth in urban communities by properly developing them and manage the little land space left across the country for socio-economic development.

“It’s the aim of Government to use urbanization as a catalyst for economic growth, social development, cultural enhancement and environmental sustainability because urbanization is a global and natural phenomenon for development”, he noted.

He therefore urged all and sundry to constantly institute practical measures to continually enrich the capacities and outlook of key actors in urban development and management , while at the same time appealing to participants to ensure a smooth coordination of tenets within the policy and action plan for socio-economic development.

On his part the Chairman of the National Development Planning Commission, Paul Victor Obeng, called on all to have a rethinking and link our economic development with the spatial development strategies as the country progresses to a middle income status.

“We have to stop doing the old things, build capacity and regulate the rules to manage our little resources and space that are available. The factors that prompt the challenges that lead to urbanization need to be tackled fiercely”, he stressed.

A New Dialogue on Urban Development – Cities Alliance

According to statistics available, more than Ghana’s population lives in the urban areas with an estimated 60 percent of Ghana’s national output being produced in urban areas.

Thus with an annual growth of 3.6 percent, Ghana’s urban population will more than double between 2000 and 2025 to cope with poor sanitation and worsening water services as well as perennial flooding due to drainage problems and climate change.

For that matter it’s worthwhile that on 28 March 2013 President Mahama announced a National Urban Policy, the first comprehensive urban governance framework in Ghana’s history. The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), also a key partner in the Cities Alliance Country Programme in Ghana, provided technical and financial support for the development and launch of the policy to tackle this problem from all fronts.

“This is just the beginning,” said the World Bank’s Kofi Tsikata on changing the urban dialogue in Ghana. “There is much more to come.”

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