Ghana will be seeking answers to some of its pressing urban management challenges at this year’s UN Habitat World Urban Forum (WUF) scheduled to take place in the Columbian city of Medellin from April 5 to 11 this year.
The country has participated in previous fora but it will, for the first time, mount an exhibition to showcase some of its successes in its urban management practices.
The Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Mr Akwasi Opong-Fosu, in an interaction with the new Colombian Ambassador to Ghana, Madam Claudia Turbay Quintero, on Friday, February 7, 2014 expressed the country’s preparedness to fully participate in the forum.
According to him, participants are looking forward to sharing knowledge with those from other countries and to learn best practices in urban management.
Unlike previous years, the country, according to the minister, will be highly visible as it has secured an exhibition booth and is also booked to host a side event on the third day of the forum.
The Ghana Urban Forum will, however, precede the WUF, and plans are underway to ensure its success, the minister stated.
Ghana’s urban management challenges
Cities in Ghana, including Accra and Kumasi, are still battling issues related to waste management practices, poor sanitation and noise pollution.
Air pollution, fuelled by increasing traffic , is also a major issue, as well as the ever-disturbing incidence of squatter settlement and haphazard development as a result of increasing rural-urban migration.
WUF — The journey so far
The WUF was created in 2002 to bring countries together to discuss those issues that are critical to the management of urban areas through a sustainable urban development and cities.
The number of participants for the WUF has significantly increased since its inception, from 1,200 at the inaugural session in Nairobi in 2002 to over 8,200 at the sixth session in Naples in September 2012.
The Colombian Embassy in Ghana
The Colombian Embassy in Ghana is responsible for all the 16 West African countries but Madam Quintero said she would be resident in Ghana.
According to her, Medellin, the industrial hub of Colombia, has been transformed over a period of two decades from a city with big drug cartels into a peaceful and vibrant one.
She expressed her country’s readiness to promote ties with Ghana in the areas of education, commerce and industry.