Government is committed to direct engagement with development partners on the management of urban development and planning towards a future urban growth that responds to the needs of the urban poor.

The Minister for Water Resources, Works and Housing, Dr Kweku Agyeman-Mensah, made this known in a key note address delivered on his behalf in Accra, yesterday, at the launch of a project for improving governance, voice and access to justice in Ghana’s informal settlements.

Dr Agyeman-Mensah noted that slum upgrading was an essential component of city development, adding that governments often contributed to slum growth by failing to provide for the needs of the poor and incorporating them into urban planning.

He disclosed that a strategy that would define and outline the appropriate instruments for the implementation of Ghana’s Housing Policy was being developed by government.

Giving an overview of the project, Dr Eric Yeboah, Director of Research, expressed regrets about the delink between urbanization and the provision of infrastructure, leading to the development of slums in Ghana and across the globe.

Dr Yeboah said the growing rate of urbanization should match infrastructural development and improved utility services.

He said there was need for increased awareness about housing as a fundamental human right and the need for service providers to become more responsive to the needs of informal settlers.

He said it was in response to the deplorable conditions in informal settlements vis-a-vis the right to housing and an adequate standard of living that the project was being initiated, adding that the project was expected to lead to improved recognition and improved municipal services.

For his part, Mr Sylvanus Adzornu, Director, Urban Development Unit, Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD), said research to be conducted under the project should serve as a value addition since the Ministry had conducted research in many of such areas which led to the initiation of projects aimed at developing the communities.

Mr Adzornu mentioned the New Urban Agenda, District Assemblies Common Fund and the Slum Upgrading Policy, among others, as some the policies informed by research.

A representative of IDRC, Adrian Di Glovanni, noted that the right to adequate standard of living was of central importance to the enjoyment of all economic, social and cultural rights.

Dr Glovanni, therefore, stressed the need to ensure fairness in the allocation of resources and prioritizing the protection of vulnerable groups, and pledged the commitment of IDRC to a successful project implementation.

In his remarks, Mr Mark Kakraba-Ampeh, Executive Director, LMRC, said LMRC was committed to conducting research and publishing the findings as well as educating the public on critical land management issues.

The project, Mr Kakraba-Ampeh said, therefore, aimed to discourage criminalization and forced eviction from informal settlements and to work towards improved conditions for slum dwellers and to prevent the creation of new slums.

The Chairperson for the occasion, Dr Renee Morhe, Faculty of Law, KNUST, urged all stakeholders to provide the necessary support for the successful implementation of the project.

The project for improving Governance, Voice and Access to Justice in Ghana’s Informal Settlements is a partnership between the Land Management Resource Centre (LMRC) and the Faculties of Law and the Built Environment, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Kumasi, with financial support from the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Canada.

Other partners are the People’s Dialogue on Human Settlements and SDI.

Under the three-year project, key stakeholders-MLGRD, Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing (MWRWH), Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MoGCSP) and the Lands Commission-will collaborate to deal with slum conditions.

The project is expected to develop strategies to influence policy and law that affect informal settlements with the aim of enhancing improved while encouraging the empowerment at the grassroots to know their rights and be part of decision-making in issues of urban governance and city management.

Source: ISD (G.D. Zaney)