Observing World Cities Day: AFD recalls role in bridging Ghana’s infrastructure gap

The Initial plan was to line 0.75km of the Gumani drain (transforming it into a storm drain), dredge another part of the drain and do a box culvert as well as a number of foot bridges.  However, after re-scoping, a decision was made to increase the length of the drain to 1.1km due to the severity of flooding in the area (the lined box culvert) and do two-foot bridges with the same budget.

According to Mr Sylvanus Adzornu, the National Project Coordinator, sanitation being a major problem in Tamale and because the core mandate of the Metropolitan Assembly is to take care of sanitation problems within its jurisdiction, this segment of the project was considered very crucial for the development of the area. This is because the poor sanitation actually contributed to the annual flooding in the city – gutters were choked since people did not have places to safely dispose of rubbish, nor was there an organised rubbish collection system.

“The main objective of the GUMPP Project in Tamale is the alleviation, if not eradication of the problem of perennial flooding (with flood water reaching up to window level).  This was an annual occurrence that used to destroy people’s property and in most cases resulting in the loss of lives. People could not stay in their homes in the area, during the rains; and a lot of properties were lost as a result of perennial flooding,” Mr Ahmed Abdul Rahman, the Tamale Project Coordinator also stated.

Initially drivers used to drive the vehicles through the drain at the point where there was a hardpan, endangering their lives and that of their passengers. Currently however, provision has been made for a box culvert and a secure bridge was constructed for vehicular access. After constructing the drains, there has not been any report of flooding in the area and people are free to go about their activities during the rains without fear of losing their lives or the fear of cholera outbreak.  This undoubtedly has resulted in the improvement in the health of the inhabitants.

Abattoir and youth employment

Slaughtering of animals was done at an area which was not confined, the roofing sheets of which either leaked profusely or were ripped off during rainfalls.  Moreover, the floor was not plastered and there was no toilet facility; to compound the situation, there was no water. They had to rely on tanker drivers to bring them water which lasted for only three days.

Under the project, the abattoir was partly refurbished, including the provision of the slaughter house and access to clean water.  Some young people in the area have seized the opportunity of the refurbishment of the abattoir to bring animals from other markets for the slaughter house.  This creates a source of income for these young men who hitherto used to loiter around the market.

According to Mr Abdul Rashid Mummuni, the President of the Association of Butchers, the whole development has also increased the sale of livestock in the market because people are confident that they will get a safe place to slaughter their animals so they prefer buying from there. And as they go buying animals they also do their other shopping in the market leading to an overall increase in economic activity in the market.

Challenges

Due to the dynamics of the market, all the needs have not been met at the Aboabo market.  The funds allocated for the construction of the 72 stores were not enough to meet the growing demand that shot up to 140.   For that matter, some market women still sell their wares on tables in the open space in the market square.  This practice has compelled even those who already have stores to come out into the market square to sell, in order to beat the competition that is developing out there.

Moreover, there was a challenge with two main amenities that would have yielded maximum benefits for the beneficiaries of the GUMP project.  Indeed, in order to guarantee quality meat for the consumer, the acquisition of a meat van is essential.  So far, neither the managers nor the Butchers’ Association have been able to make this investment.  If this is not addressed, it could derail the successes chalked in terms of sanitation; not to mention the fact that this could affect the revenue of the butchers.

Even though the first phase of the biogas plant that is supposed to treat the waste generated at the abattoir has been built, it is not big enough.  The Municipal Assembly should complete the second phase early enough to bridge the gap between the generation of waste and its disposal. If this is not done, solid waste from the abattoir could find its way into water bodies, resulting in water borne diseases which would offset the remarkable gains made on the health front.

Benefits

According to the MCE of Tamale, Iddrisu Musah Superior, the GUMPP project is a typical project that addresses challenging issues at the local level, thus helping to boost the decentralised system in Ghana.  The roads constructed in Mossi Zongo have changed lives.  All these have helped the people to be business oriented and the economic value of the people has increased.  “Their life expectancy has also increased because they are able to educate their children and sanitation has improved due to the provision of the drainage – the chiefs and the local people are happy about the change,” he added.

The general theme of World Cities Day is: “Better City, Better Life”, while each year a different sub-theme is selected, to either promote successes of urbanisation, or address specific challenges resulting from urbanisation. The first World Cities Day was celebrated in Shanghai, China on October 31, 2014, under the theme, “Leading Urban Transformations”. This year’s theme is: “Building Sustainable and Resilient Cities”, and the global observation will be celebrated in Liverpool in the United Kingdom.

The idea behind the selection of this year’s theme is relevant. According to the United Nations, cities need support to become resilient and develop their capacity to absorb the impact of hazards, protect and preserve human life and limit damage to and destruction of public and private assets while continuing to provide infrastructure and services after a crisis.

BY DORCAS A. DARE

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