Charles Abani (left), UN Resident Coordinator, exchanging pleasantries with Martin Adjei-Mensah Korsah (right), Minister for Local Government, Decentralisation and Rural Development, during the Ghana Urban Forum. With them is Osei Bonsu Amoah (middle), Minister of State, Local Govenment Ministry.  Picture: ESTHER ADJORKOR ADJEI
Charles Abani (left), UN Resident Coordinator, exchanging pleasantries with Martin Adjei-Mensah Korsah (right), Minister for Local Government, Decentralisation and Rural Development, during the Ghana Urban Forum. With them is Osei Bonsu Amoah (middle), Minister of State, Local Govenment Ministry. Picture: ESTHER ADJORKOR ADJEI

Urbanisation challenges compounding environmental threats in Accra — UN

The United Nations (UN) has observed that the challenges of urbanisation in Ghana’s capital city, Accra, include inadequate infrastructure, poor waste management, and the impacts of climate change, as it battles environmental challenges, including flooding.

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The UN Resident Coordinator in Ghana, Charles Abani, said there was a need for proactive planning and investment in recycling and waste management to ensure a resilient future for the city.

“We're now seeing a number of disasters, we are seeing increasing rainfall, we are seeing a rise in the use of single-use plastic, particularly a rise and on this continent of second-hand clothing, which gets dumped into these gutters. And, therefore, without an efficient system of management, we are likely to see an increase anyway,” he said.

Speaking in an interview with the Daily Graphic on the sidelines of the Ghana Urban Forum, the UN official said it was important that the country planned for the future by building and expanding infrastructure for urban cities.

“We need to look at the key challenges relating to waste, and how waste management takes place, and investing in some of the recycling that is necessary to ensure that we have a resilient future,” he added.

Context

As the rainy season sets in, the capital city of Ghana, Accra, is once again grappling with a familiar and challenging situation: flooding.

Heavy downpours over the past few weeks have left several parts of the city submerged, causing widespread disruption and drawing attention to the city's long-standing infrastructural challenges.

In the year’s seasonal forecast made available to the Daily Graphic, the Ghana Meteorological Agency (GMet) warned that the distribution of this year’s March-April-May (M-A-M) rainfall might lead to more localised floods in places along the coast and its inland areas.

Addressing the Ghana Urban Forum, the Minister of Local Government, Decentralisation, and Rural Development, Martin Adjei-Mensah Korsah, said challenges associated with the country’s urbanisation had evolved from congestion to environmental degradation, urban sprawl, depletion of ecologically sensitive areas, inadequate efficient public transport services, inadequate infrastructure, financial resources and inefficient services, among others.

He mentioned that the adoption of the new urban agenda in 2016 aimed to prompt national and local governments worldwide to start a transformative journey towards the attainment of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 11.

He said the government was dedicated to fulfilling regional and global commitments through diverse policies and programmes.

Education

The Chairperson of the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), Kathleen Addy, in a separate interview, said there was a need to educate the public on environmental laws and regulations to promote sustainable practices and reduce harmful impacts on the environment.

She said NCCE was committed to increasing education efforts around building codes and environmental laws to raise public awareness. “The law must take its course to address illegal construction in flood-prone areas.

Those who have built illegally, those who do illegal waste disposal, they must have their day in court and face the full consequences of their actions,” she said.

Initiative

The Communications Specialist of the Greater Accra Resilient and Integrated Development Project for Ghana (GARID) Project, Philip Dornyo, said the project, initiated by the government and funded by the World Bank, aimed to improve flood risk management and solid waste management in the capital city and improve access to basic infrastructure and services in some targeted communities within the Odaw River Basin.

He said the GARID Project's focus was on controlling floods in Accra, targeting three low-income communities, namely Agblobloshie, Akweteyman and Nima.
“During the first quarter, we collected about 45,000 tonnes of waste from 15 MMDCES out of the 17 MMDCES targetted,” he said.

He said they were constructing a flood early warning system in Accra, using automatic weather stations and detention ponds to prevent flooding. Mr Dornyo said they had organised training sessions for the waste champions and distributed some waste management equipment to the various assemblies.

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