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General News of Friday, 5 April 2019


Stakeholders express concern over population growth challenges hampering spatial planning

Stakeholders in national planning have expressed concern over the negative impact of rapid population growth on spatial planning.

The stakeholders noted that the rapid population growth in urban areas created environmental problems, which threatened sustainable development.

The stakeholders were the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC), the Cities and Climate Change Steering Committee at the Regional Institute of Population Studies, University of Ghana and the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO).

They were represented by Dr Felix Addo-Yobo, Director Policy Planning at the NDPC; Mr Wise Ametefe, a member of the Cities and Climate Change Steering Committee at the Regional Institute of Population Studies, University of Ghana; and Mr Kofi Koranteng Abrokwa, Director Training, NADMO.

The trio expressed their concern during a Stakeholders Meeting on “Disaster Risk Reduction in Ghana: The Future of our Cities" in Accra.

Spatial planning refers to the methods used by the public sector to influence the distribution of people and activities in spaces of various scales.

It includes all levels of land use planning including urban planning, regional planning and national spatial plans levels.

The stakeholders noted that Ghana was exposed and vulnerable to both natural and man-made disasters such as floods, coastal erosion, wildfires, pest infestation, earthquake and industrial accidents, which had adverse economic, social and environmental consequences and posed a risk to national development.

They recounted the signing up to the Sendai framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015 to 2030, in which Ghana together with other United Nations Member States reiterated a commitment to address disaster risk reduction and build resilience to disasters within the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication.

Mr Abrokwa said the Sendai Framework played a critical role towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

He said as the nation works towards attaining the SDGs, it was important that attention was given to disaster management, because one disaster would wipe out all the gains.

Dr Addo-Yobo said the series of earth tremors, which had hit Ghana in recent times was a pointer that probably, the bigger one was just around the corner; and there was the need for the nation to prepare towards any eventuality.

He expressed concern about the high rate of road accidents in the country claiming lives and property and called for a concentred efforts to curb it. Mr Ametefe said it was evident that population growth challenges were compromising spatial planning and increasing disaster risks globally which Ghana was no exception.

"Haphazard development of human settlements such as building on waterways and green spaces attributed to increased resident demand for housing has contributed to increased exposure to flood risks," he added.

He said the recent floods in Greater Accra Metropolitan Area and other urban cities in the country presented institutions and society with new forms of challenges of building and managing cities.

Mr Ametefe, who is also the Registrar of the Engineering Council, Ghana said barriers to institutional collaboration, technocratic approaches, understandings of population dynamics, use of scientific evidence in decision making, and balances in community, civil and private sector input to decision-making were amongst factors that must be overcome.

He said interest of society was no longer served by conservative regional urban planning models that focussed on transportation and infrastructure at the expense of environmental change drivers of which climate change has come to stay.

Mr Ametefe said societal demand for service supply and development were now at crossroads with disaster risks and called for integrated approaches to planning and management towards building societal resilience.