The Ashanti Regional Minister, Mr. John Alexander Ackon, has urged metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies (MMDAs) to step up their disaster risk reduction efforts, particularly in the urban areas.
He said the steady drift of people to these centres, required that they moved to properly plan and manage things to minimise disasters.
Mr. Ackon was speaking at the opening of a two-day urban resilience conference for local authorities held at Fumesua near Kumasi.
The programme was organised by the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and supported by the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery.
It was held on the theme, “Opportunities and challenges for mainstreaming disaster risk reduction through inclusive planning and effective coordination”and sought to discuss disaster risk reduction through inclusive planning and effective coordination at the local level.
Representatives from the MMDAs, NADMO, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Water Resources Commission (WRC), Town and Country Planning Department, the Local Government and Rural Development Ministry and academia participated in the event.
Mr. Ackon indicated that about 52 per cent of the nation’s population as of 2010 lived in the urban areas and the projection was that the figure could hit 72 per cent by 2035.
He said “epidemics, fires, floods, food insecurity, traffic accidents among others are constant incidents that need to be addressed relative to our urban resilience and disaster risk reduction frameworks”.
Mr. Ackon said the lack of enforcement of land use plans, absence of local level disaster contingency plans and limited involvement of communities in development planning needed to be tackled.
Dr. Dominic Sam, Country Director of the UNDP, said the threat of natural and human-induced disasters could potentially undermine development gains, citing the June 03 disaster, last year, as how disasters could wreak havoc on society.
He pledged the UNDP’s determination to continue to partner government in its effort to reduce disasters in urban communities, adding that, it had been providing technical support in disaster risk reduction since 2005.