Accra, Oct. 1, GNA - Ghana needs to address the basic legal and institutional issues relating to the management of urban land development, planning and construction for the proper functioning of cities.
Mr. Joseph Yieleh Chireh, Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, said this at a roundtable conference organised by the ministry to address problems of slums and unplanned development of towns and cities in Accra on Thursday.
It was to assess how urban planning has been addressed and find pragmatic steps to upgrade slums as part of preparations towards this year's World Habitat Day celebration.
The United Nations has designated the first Monday of October every year as World Habitat Day to reflect on the state of towns, cities and the basic rights of all humans to adequate shelter.
This year's celebration on Monday, October 5, under the theme “Planning Our Urban Future,” is expected to remind the world of its collective responsibility for the future of human habitat.
He said he was dissatisfied that most urban areas in the country had been developed without effective planning and developmental control.
“If the current machinery, especially law enforcement to manage urban development, is not improved upon, the problems confronting urban areas will become worse and too expensive to manage,” the Minister said.
Mr. Yieleh Chireh said Ghana's population was estimated to reach 25 million by 2010 and expected that 52 per cent of the people would live in urban areas with a consequential tremendous developmental challenge.
He said urban planners needed to understand that planning and governance were inextricably linked to fashion out and adopt a sustainable urbanisation model for the country.
“Planners need to understand the political economy of the society, customary land ownership systems and how modern land markets function as well as the social context within which plans are prepared,” he said.
Mr. Yieleh Chireh said Government was deepening the decentralisation process, devolving power and transferring resources to local authorities for greater inclusiveness and participation in decision making for urban planning and management.
Ms Akua Sena Dansua, Minister of Women and Children's Affairs, expressed worry about the present urban planning system in the country which is ill-equipped to deal with urban challenges of the 21st Century.
She said it had failed to acknowledge the meaningful involvement of communities including women and children in the planning of urban areas.
“Development policy interventions such as urban planning affect women and men, boys and girls differently, therefore their specific needs and interest must be taken into account in the design and development of projects and programmes in urban communities,” she said stressing that women should be involved in planning and decision-making process.
Ms Sena Dansua said efforts towards gender mainstreaming, resource allocation and provision of appropriate facilities needed to be stepped up in order to reduce poverty in the country and for Ghana to attain its Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) agenda.
“Women participation in development planning is both a goal and pre-requisite for reaching the MDGs. Therefore investing in women and mobilising them to participate in the socio-economic development of the nation is not only the right thing to do but really the smart thing,” she said.
She appealed to urban planners to take into account the specific needs and interests of women and children in the design of urban development plans to improve their access to relevant services and other economic and social opportunities.