Authors : Albert Novas Somanje , Geetha Mohan, Julia Lopes, Adelina Mensah, Christopher Gordon, Xin Zhou, Mustafa Moinuddin, Osamu Saito, Kazuhiko Takeuchi
Publication Site : MDPI
Publication Type : Research Article
Date of publication : 9 January 2020
This study found high inequality and gender gaps in the development of urban and rural areas in Ghana. The disparity was even higher from a gender perspective. We observed limited female participation in decision-making processes and the labor force, low secondary school enrolment, and high adolescent birth rates. This study also found that social and economic systems in Ghana were not inclusive of equal female participation, which is of vital importance given that the female population in Ghana is 51.7%, as compared to the male population of 48.3%.
This study noted poor basic and economic infrastructures, which was primarily due to increased rural-urban migration, urban sprawl, industrial expansion, and population increase in Ghana. These urban-rural challenges have contributed to the expansion of urban slum areas that have inadequate housing facilities. High rents translate into a lack of affordable housing. Slum communities face high exposure to risk and extreme-event disasters, such as flooding, and they have inadequate access to social and public services, including waste management and sanitation, education, and health.
Furthermore, low recycling rates, improper refuse disposal by households and commercial establishments, and poor burning practices exacerbate negative impacts on water quality and quantity, sanitation, health, and hygiene. For example, it is estimated that 16% of households have no electricity, 50% are without piped water, and 78% have no solid waste disposal mechanism in both urban and rural areas in Ghana. Urban-rural connectivity is also weak as a result of poor and inadequate transport systems. Limited or absent information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure in rural areas hampers effective health, education, communication, and business services.
The urbanization rate in Ghana is 3.1% yearly, which surpasses urban infrastructure improvement and services.
The limited effectiveness of decentralization at regional and district assemblies was primarily due to centralized decision-making and management and limited input from a local perspective. The lack of local participation in development and governance weakens urban-rural linkages in a social, economic, and environmental context.
Decentralization was found to have led to institutional weakness, inefficient resource mobilization and utilization, inadequate human resource capacity, and poor performance.
Food and nutrition security dynamics are a challenge because of the ever-increasing urban population. Agriculture is the predominant source of livelihood for the rural community and it plays a vital role in national food security. However, limited economic power and availability of land, along with the impact of climate change, have led more people to migrate in the search of new livelihoods. These migrants include young men, women, and children. Migrants face challenges in housing, access to health care and sanitation, trafficking, sexual abuse, exploitation, low salaries, and food insecurity although urban-rural remittances are one of the foremost contributors to rural household income and community development.
Consequently, a smaller number of farmers and producers have to meet the needs of a growing urban population. The increasing urban population affects the access to and the continuity, quality, and quantity of the food supply. Food insecurity is also linked to poverty, poor infrastructures, and socioeconomic instability, such as increasing numbers of female-headed households. The lack of access to affordable finance, funding for business ventures, technology, capacity building, and research/education tend to be among the core issues for weak urban-rural linkages. The poor have no capacity and collateral to borrow from banks at commercial rates, especially in rural areas.
Despite Ghana’s increasing economic growth, gender inequality remains prevalent in the North and South Ghana, and in urban and rural areas. The inclusion of gender considerations in all policy and decision-making processes is a critical step in reducing inequality in rural and urban centers. Addressing the gender gap has positive effects on migration patterns, food and water security, and education. Studies show that 55% of hunger reduction in developing countries is associated with improvements in female education and the reduction of inequality.
Increasing public awareness regarding gender as a social construct could reduce the related cultural challenges that impede women’s economic progress. This could be accomplished by incorporating gender and related issues in traditional curricula and by encouraging more proactive support by community heads and opinion leaders to positively reform the cultural and traditional roles of women. The active participation of women would also provide holistic perspectives when identifying interventions or the solutions for community development.
Educational programs that target skills development and capacity building economically empower women. These educational programs could be achieved by providing training in financial literacy, business development, supply chain management, and technology (e.g., mobile banking and online trading).
Sustainable agriculture is the management and preservation of food systems and natural resources through technological and institutional changes to meet the needs of current and future generations. Increasing the awareness of opportunities in sustainable agriculture by all stakeholders, including women and young people, as well as the private sector, could be achieved through various innovative channels.
For the youth, incorporating sustainable agriculture in the curricula at the Senior High School level and while using technologies, such as WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook, and other social media, would make small-scale agricultural industries in rural areas more attractive and enhance people’s perspectives. This is particularly true, given that modern agricultural systems address the challenges that are posed by climate change (low yield and costs), land degradation, rapid urbanization, and demands from the growing population.
In Ghana, agriculture employs approximately 85% of the rural workforce, small-scale farmers produce 95% of the country’s food crops, and of the 1.9 million hectares of potentially irrigable land, only 1.6% is exploited. Training in modern, climate-smart, and sustainable technologies, supported by up-to-date and relevant research and data, would improve the skills and capacity of agricultural-extension-service providers and farmers in Ghana.
This study found that decentralization encourages greater participation in the decision-making process (localization). A decentralized system was found to be more effective in maintaining urban-rural linkages when compared to a centralized one. A decentralized governance system allows for local participation in decision-making processes, which is vital in sustaining effective rural-urban linkages and strengthening local capacity and management (effective and efficient operationalization of existing regional and district administrative systems) of local affairs. Local resource generation, planning, budgeting, and expenditure are areas that require strengthening in Ghana. Decentralization is vital when it is used as an instrument for the development and engagement of all members of a society.
This study proposes a number of stepwise potential solutions to improve urban-rural linkages and development in Ghana. The solutions address the significant challenges of gender gaps, poor infrastructures, decentralization, affordable finance, and food security dynamics. The present study prioritizes the potential solutions with SDG interlinkages in a Ghanaian context. The key solutions, like gender, agriculture, infrastructure, decentralization, and financial inclusion, are identified as the most important factors for achieving social, economic, and environmental sustainability.
Concisely, the gender inclusiveness is associated to addressing the challenges of cultural values, inequality, poverty and women’s participation in education, economic, and governance processes. Investment in infrastructure enhances access to social services (housing, education, health) and economic services (input and output markets) for urban and rural development, as highlighted in the conceptual framework. Furthermore, the strengthening of climate-smart agriculture measures and promotion of modernized and sustainable agriculture systems enhance natural resource utilization and ecosystem services and improves local livelihoods, leading to less impact on rural-urban migration.
The advancement of an effective decentralized systems is associated to the local participation and governance of environmental natural resources, social and economic service for sustainable urban and rural development. An innovative financial inclusion system increases access to affordable finance and an easy flow of remittances for improving economic opportunities for urban and rural development. These solutions are critical for resource allocation, development priority, and making positive impacts on sustainable urban-rural linkages. The SDG interlinkages that were specific to each solution were also shown to have synergies that can be maximized and trade-offs that can be avoided, which is critical for the allocation and efficient use of limited resources.
Some compelling challenges in the implementation process remain despite the practical application of the methodological approach demonstrated by the potential solutions generated for sustainable urban-rural linkages. In this study, the expert sample size was small at each stage of the process and the participants’ judgments were subjective. Furthermore, the SDG interlinkages analysis could be improved with the availability of SDG data. The lack of SDG data is a challenge, as has been reported in the SDG Centre for Africa and Sustainable Development Solutions Network progress report. This assessment was executed at the national level, and the results may be different at the local or regional level in Ghana.
Les Wathinotes sont des extraits de publications choisies par WATHI et conformes aux documents originaux. Les rapports utilisés pour l’élaboration des Wathinotes sont sélectionnés par WATHI compte tenu de leur pertinence par rapport au contexte du pays. Toutes les Wathinotes renvoient aux publications originales et intégrales qui ne sont pas hébergées par le site de WATHI, et sont destinées à promouvoir la lecture de ces documents, fruit du travail de recherche d’universitaires et d’experts.