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A national action plan to tackle the high urbanization of Ghanaian cities

According to the latest population census and habitat realized in 2010 in Ghana, about 50% of the population lives in V, this trend could reach 60% by 2030. It also shows that 51% of the urban population lives in less decent housing while it contributes with about 60% to the country’s wealth. This urban population boom has also negatively impacted the development of Ghanaian cities.

Indeed, entire neighborhoods, like the Agogbloshie and Old Fadama in the Ghanaian capital, are on the margins of urban development. Industries and homes are often built in flood or inappropriate zones; the economic impact of the city are inequitably  distributed across the country and basic public services do not reach certain areas. Aware of the challenges in this sector, the Ghanaian authorities have developed in late 2013, a pilot urban development plan for the next five years. It is the National Action Plan for Urban Policy which is to plan, coherently, urbanization in large cities of the country taking into account the vital needs of the urban population. « Urban systems have become dominant in our country today. If we do not put up a good urban governance policy, we will be faced with phenomena such as congestion on our roads, in 10 to 20 years, « said President John Dramane Mahama to launch this ambitious project first of its kind in a country where the urban population has almost doubled from 4.5 million in 1984 to 15 million in 2014 with an estimated total population of about 30 million people.

Quick results

Drawn around 12 main roads, the urban development plan allows to control the urbanization of large areas of Ghana while facilitating citizens’ access to all basic services. These include promoting urban economic development, facilitate an equitable settlement of the urban population, improve the environmental quality of urban life, for the planning and control of urban growth between large cities and small towns and to promote safety and security for urban populations. The plan will also help to ensure access to decent housing accessible to all budgets, strengthen good governance in urban planning policy of municipalities and adapt the climate change component to cities development mechanisms. Now the National Action Plan for Urban Policy will enable the various players of the  urbanization industry to find appropriate solutions to the problems related to rapid urbanization through a participatory and sectoral approach. « We cannot develop our cities without considering the views of all stakeholders. Channels have been established to carry out development actions in the cities.

Now, local representatives are working with the central government to identify the real needs of populations in cities, « said Kwado Yeboah, responsible for the division of urban planning at the Ministry of Rural Development and Local Governance. The various actions undertaken since the launch of the plan have given quick results thanks to the support of development partners. Indeed, the National Action Plan on urban policy, which supports other urban development projects running for years, has built public and school latrines, bus stations, networks of drinking water and rainwater drainage system supply. For a more active participation of the vulnerable segment of the urban population, commercial centers and public housing are being built in the Ghanaian capital and Kumasi, the second largest city of the African country. Green areas have also been refurbished in some neighborhoods  of Accra and Kumasi.

An inclusive policy for an efficient orientation of the resources


The implementation of this ambitious program has enabled the country to guide, in a much more efficient manner , the resources allocated to key sectors threatened  by the high population pressure. « Today it is much easier to assess the needs of different parts of the cities. Local representations, and  local officials, need  to transmit directly the information  to the Government via the Ministry for Development and Planning, « reassured Mr. Yeboah. Now all development actors have a say in the process of urban planning in the country. Whether civil society organizations, traditional leaders or private companies, all can contribute to the vision of the Ghanaian government. « The government can never know the needs of the people of a given environment if they don’t express themselves. So this inclusive vision will help to close the gaps to respond quickly to needs related to rapid urbanization of our cities, « said Christopher Badu, director of an architectural firm.

The results of the latest joint report of the World Bank and the Ghanaian authorities

Despite all these achievements, the latest joint report entitled « The strong growth in the cities of Ghana » published by the World Bank and the Government of Ghana in May 2015, identified some challenges that should be addressed in the years to come by the national Action Plan for urban policy. Among other things, have been cited the lack of processing industries in large cities to absorb unemployment, lack of connectivity between different parts of towns, difficult access to land resulting in the uncontrolled emergence of new neighborhoods. The report has developed actions to address these needs. « The national urbanization plan was formulated to address these challenges in the urban development process. It is important to note that this plan is part of the bold initiatives taken by the Government to intervene in an understandable way in the urban sector to facilitate and promote the sustainable development of cities and towns in Ghana. It is an inclusive process that takes into account the needs of vulnerable groups, « said Samuel Ofosu Ampofo, Ghana’s Minister of Rural Development and Local Governance.

Despite all the measures taken for the perpetuation of this ambitious urban development plan in other cities of the country, much remains to be done to curb the pace of urbanization of the big cities like the capital which should see its population double by 2030. But for now, this initiative has helped to change the daily life of a part of the urban population in the Ghanaian capital including the construction of social housing. In all, 200 new buses were put into service to facilitate urban transport and about 4,720 units of affordable housing are being built since 2014 in the various regional capitals. Hope is still allowed.

By Blamé Ekoué

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