Ghanaian experience exemplifies progress, environmental challenges

18 Nov 2011

imageAccra was inundated by torrential rains at the end of October. (Photo: UNDP)

Launching the 2011 Human Development Report in the Ghanaian capital, Accra, the Associate Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme, Rebeca Grynspan, said environmental degradation could seriously affect human development in Africa and around the world.

Countries that have made impressive advances in the area of human development, such as Ghana, are not immune from environmental disasters, she pointed out.

At the end of October, Accra was inundated by torrential rains that killed at least 14 people and displaced more than 43,000 others.

“I understand this vulnerability has been felt deeply by the citizens of Accra recently as they fought to save their homes, family members and livelihoods from the flood waters which have caused so much damage,” she said.

The Associate Administrator launched the report with the Vice President of the Republic of Ghana, John Dramani Mahama, who said that Ghana has been climbing up Human Development Index (HDI) rankings over the last five years.
During her official visit to Ghana, Ms. Grynspan also met with the Head of Ghana’s National Disaster Management Organization (NADMO), Kofi Portuphy and the Environment Minister, Hanny Sherry Ayittey.

She applauded NADMO for moving swiftly to provide relief to affected communities and displaced people.
The United Nations Country Team has contributed USD 100,000 to help the government of Ghana de-silt choked drains in the aftermath of the floods. Led by a waste management expert, the UN also carried out a rapid environmental assessment exercise in flood-affected areas.

NADMO is now shifting its agenda from responding to emergencies to reducing risks and preventing disasters. The institution has developed both a national policy and an action plan on disaster risk reduction.

In her meeting with NADMO, the Associate Administrator stressed the importance of coordinating disaster risk reduction strategies at the national level and ensuring the needs of the most vulnerable are met in affected areas.
“But let me also be clear, national action is necessary but not sufficient. Action at the global level is also indispensable,” the Associate Administrator said during the launch.

According to the Report, changes in environmental conditions may restrict access to vital sources of energy, impact agricultural production and increase inequalities in a region that is already food insecure.

The report argues that at the global level, more resources should be devoted to tackling global environmental threats while boosting the representation of disadvantaged countries and groups in accessing finance.