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27.03.2008 Business & Finance

Asenso-Okyere: Rich — poor gap increasing

By The Ghanaian Times
Asenso-Okyere: Rich — poor gap increasing


Ghana's development strategies that have generated macro-economic growth have also widened the gap between the rich and the poor, says Professor Kwadwo Asenso-Okyere, Director of the International Service for National Agricultural Research.

Unless social protection programmes are built into development strategies to assist the poor and vulnerable, "we will be recycling poverty from one generation to the next," he said.

Prof. Asenso-Okyere, former Vice Chancellor of the University of Ghana, made the call in a lecture in Accra yesterday on the topic: "Living at the expense of future generations: Innovating for sustainable development."

The lecture was part of the "Ghana Speaks" series jointly organised by the Institute for Democratic Governance (IDEG) and Joy FM radio station.

For instance, he said the concentration of development in the urban areas such as businesses, road networks, and other infrastructure, has adversely affected the rural areas increasing the problem of rural-urban migration by the youth who are needed to develop their communities.

In addition, he said the high rate of rural-urban migration, is leading to the development of mega cities with high demand for housing and social services, adding that the increasing urban population without the commensurate employment avenues for the youth would continue to contribute to increased crime and moral decadence in society.

Prof. Asenso-Okyere also called for a comprehensive strategic plan for the sustainable management of resources to conserve them for future generations.

Without such a plan he said, the survival of future generations would be severely threatened.

For instance, inadequate strategies to ensure that renewable resources were sustainably exploited, was disturbing he said, adding that agricultural production continues to decline in the absence of effective aforestation and soil fertility management programmes.

He said excessive consumption of non-renewable resources such as fossil fuel leave very little for future generations, and the survival of humans, animals and plants is under serious threat because "we are depleting our resources through mismanagement."

On land management, he suggested there is the need for the building of multiple housing units on a piece of land to accommodate more people rather than building of a single family unit on the same piece of land, thereby wasting a lot of land resource.

He also noted that human activities have resulted in the drying up of many of the nation's water bodies, and that such water bodies would have to be revived to serve the needs of future generations.

Prof. Asenso-Okyere said without adequate planning to protect the environment against the effects of climate change, the agricultural sector could be adversely affected to the detriment of the country's food security.

Touching on Ghana's oil find, he said the country would not gain if the requisite structures are not put in place to effectively manage it and suggested that an oil account be set up into which money from the oil exploration would be channeled for national development.
In addition, he called for alternative livelihood programmes for communities that would be affected by the project.

He advised that in spite of the oil find, the country should continue to explore other sources of renewable energy so that there would be no over-reliance on the oil which could be depleted in about 50 years.

"The challenges that face us compel a new look at consumption and production strategies to be able to adapt and mitigate their effects and conserve the livelihood of future generations," he said.

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