A conference on developing water, building and construction in West Africa is set to come off in Accra from June 13 to 15 to suggest solutions to the growing population in the sub-region.
The three-day seminar, would address challenges being faced by citizens in the sub-region in the areas of housing, roads and services such as water supply and sanitation.
A statement signed by Event Management, the organisers of the event and copied to the Ghana News Agency, said this year’s event would be open by Mr Joseph Kofi Adda, the Minister of Sanitation and Water Resources.
The statement said the increase in urban population was accelerating the strain on natural resources, particularly in Ghana and other sub-Saharan countries, where rapid urbanization was outpacing the urban water infrastructure and related service provision.
The statement said, “In most of the major cities in Sub-Saharan Africa, this population movement is placing unprecedented stress on fragile ecosystems and urban environments that have poorly developed urban water and sanitation infrastructure.
With an estimated 72 per cent of the region’s urban population currently living under slum conditions, urbanization has virtually become synonymous with slum growth reaching nearly 200 million in 2005 and continuing to grow at a pace,” it added.
The statement said last year’s conference discussed the shift from the Millennium Development Goals to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
These SDGs needed to be attained by 2030, but there were severe doubts about the ability of sub-Saharan countries, such as Ghana and Nigeria, to fulfil their stated objectives in meeting with these goals, particularly if they continued with the mood of business operations.
The statement noted that “Currently only five per cent of Africa’s potential water resources are developed and only five per cent of Africa’s cultivated land irrigated,” adding that “Less than 10 per cent of hydro-power potential is tapped”.
The statement said the above suggested a great resource-utilisation potential in Africa, as the continent had massive untapped resources.
Though most of the water and sanitation projects undertaken to date were deemed to be potentially sustainable because of the use of local materials and standard/conventional technologies and approaches, fewer than half have met the needs of the beneficiaries.
Many schemes were donor-funded and on completion, fell into a state of disrepair due to either a lack of maintenance or sense of ownership or a combination of both.
The conference will focus discussions on shortfalls of water projects, socio-cultural dimension of infrastructure issues, construction and housing concerns and capacity building concerns.