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Opinions Thu, 22 Aug 2013

Time to Act on Accra’s Disasters!

We all love Prof. Mills, but Ataa Oko loves him more! We cry real tears for Prof. Mills, but for Ataa Oko, it is unadulterated blood. No matter the depth of sadness the anniversary of his sudden demise evokes, Ataa Oko feels greater pain! He must! Why else will he engage in fisticuffs with a ninety year old national heroine over a hockey pitch appropriately named after her?

But Ataa Oko too, why? One ‘world class’ hockey pitch for a whole country is inadequate anyway. So if the Accra Metropolitan Assembly must name a hockey pitch by every means necessary after the departed former President, why not follow His Excellency’s advice –think outside the box – source your own funding and build ten world class hockey stadia? Thereafter, every inch of space, the hockey sticks included, may all be named after President John Mills? But President Mahama too, why? How could you be so wicked –dragging a fully bearded Ataa Oko, kicking and screaming to render an apology? Talk of Presidential coercion.

Out of sheer concern for the bearded one, I have just found the right combination to deflect unwelcome attention from the man Mr. Pratt prefers to call the Metropolitan Chief Executive as opposed to Mayor!

Registrations are currently open on http://100resilientcities.rockefellerfoundation.org/pages/for-cities to kick start the recruitment of a hundred cities worldwide by the Rockefeller Foundation. After September 23, 2013, the Rockefeller Foundation will send application forms to previously registered “municipal government leaders, nonprofit organizations, universities, chamber of commerce, or research center that have a predominant affiliation / association with the city and demonstrate collaborative partnership with a municipal government.”

These 100 cities will constitute the 100 Resilient Cities Centennial Challenge to be earmarked for “technical support and resources for developing and implementing plans for urban resilience.” The Rockefeller Foundation is doing this in an attempt to make people, communities and systems better prepared to withstand both natural and manmade disasters and to recover faster and stronger to their disasters. Cities have become a strategic focus given that by 2050, 75% of the world's population will live in cities, a significant leap from the 50% in 2013 even as the cost of urban disasters in 2011 alone has been estimated at over $380 billion.

Ataa Oko is targeted for three main reasons; Accra experiences its fair share of disasters, secondly the current population of 4 million more than qualifies Accra to fulfill the challenge criterion of a minimum city population of 50, 000 and thirdly because municipal government agencies will be given a strong preference.

That said, the statement of Judith Rodin, President, Rockefeller Foundation that “We can’t predict when or where the next shock will hit. But we know that these shocks will come – and that they will only continue to increase in frequency, scale and impact” may have to be subjected to some further scrutiny as to its general applicability to the Ghanaian context. While it may be generally true that we do not know when these shocks will come, I must argue that in Ghana and in Accra, the good Lord has made it amply possible to predict disasters. Infact every year, our worst predictions come true.

In the tenth year of the award winning FrontPage on Joy FM, ace broadcaster Kwaku Sakyi-Addo could master his frustrations no more when he expressed sheer fatigue at an annual ritual: Accra’s floods – every year for ten years with loss of lives and property. Every year, the mourning is transient and the year rolls, our painful memories eaten by the beckoning dry season.

Now, fire is in vogue with an uncountable number of markets and private property as its victims. Many times, the obvious unpreparedness of victims, immediate community and firemen even where they arrive to battle the fiery furnace becomes a wicked twist to a tragic occurrence.

There are places in Accra earmarked as earthquake prone areas. God must indeed love us as people say. If we had a fraction of a Japanese-type earthquake, how would we survive, they ask? Now we need wonder no more. Ataa Oko has opportunity to put in place systems to prepare for disasters.

The city of Accra generates more refuse than it can process. This disaster will come in the form of epidemics. Did I say will? I recant. Don’t we already have cholera zones that fall prey each year to massive outbreaks leading to deaths and catastrophic health expenditures?

Clearly Ataa Oko, we have work to do – to write a proposal to lay hands on the Rockefeller support. Leave the grandmother alone. Designing a national flag is not easy. That said, I doubt I have succeeded in deflecting the afore mentioned unwelcome attentions. Then again, it is not every day a bearded old man names a hockey pitch which already has a name and in the process, gets technically knocked out by a nonagenarian!

Sodzi Sodzi-Tettey

www.sodzisodzi.com

Sodzi_tettey@hotmail.com

7th August, 2013

Columnist: Sodzi-Tettey, Sodzi