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Regional News Sun, 4 Dec 2016

Stakeholders call for improved recognition of informal settlers

A project aimed at improving governance, voice and access to justice in Ghana’s informal settlements has been launched by the Land Resource Management Centre (LRMC) in Accra.

It is also expected to improve the total recognition of the fundamental human rights and responsibilities of informal settlers and ensure that they also enjoyed access to all basic amenities and utilities including water, electricity, toilets, roads, schools and health care.

Mr Sylvanus Adzornu, the Director of Urban Development at the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, during a stakeholder dialogue in Accra, said government’s acceptance of the informal sector as the engine of growth required that various programmes and projects such as the Ghana Urban Management Programme and development grants to Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) be urgently pursued and expanded.

This, he said, would bring about the desired changes and that such projects need to map out the environment for baseline studies for slum management in Ghana in line with the Sustainable Development Goal 11 among other global commitments.

Dr Eric Yeboah, the Primary Investigator of Research at the LRMC, said the three-year project was expected to diagnose the problem of informal settlements, formulate strategies and evidence-based results to influence policy changes to solve the problems.

He said they would also work hard on changing the perception of city authorities on applying force rather than dialogue to evict those settlers.

Dr Yeboah said informal settlers were often treated as outcasts and associated with all manner of urban criminal activities and were denied the voice and justice to live decent lives and contribute to the national development discourse.

He said globally research had proven beyond doubt that access to decent housing was key for every individual yet governments had delayed in providing such facilities to correspond to the fast growth in urbanisation leading to the slum situations in various places.

Dr Yeboah said although a lot had been done over the years to improve infrastructure, the interventions must also be linked to governance and prioritising issues by ensuring a responsive policy framework that would empower those informal settlers to engage actively with policy makers.

He said: “We cannot be doing old things and expect new results,” adding that although those dwellings may be illegal, the settlers should not be entirely blamed.

This is because the lack of regulations creates policy challenges and biases that also results in unduly suffering by settlers who are made to pay for non-existent facilities.

Dr Yeboah said there must be strategies that were backed by scientific evidence to increase awareness on housing as a fundamental human rights issue in order to improve the deplorable conditions under which the settlers lived and ensure that their rights were respected as pertains to all other Ghanaians.

Source: GNA