Friday, September 24, 2010
POPULATION AND DEVELOPMENT PLANNING; THE IMPLICATION FOR GHANA'S DEVELOPMENT
The realisation that man is central to development action and interventionism marks the beginning of poverty reduction and sustianbale deevelopment. Without this realisation, development becomes an illusion and subjective only to the values and norms of the planning technician.
The success of development planning in Ghana is dependent on the capacity of development practitioners most especially in the public sector at the local, regional and national level to identify the needed interventions to be initiated for the upward movement of the entire human environment. Human resources are the people who do the work that helps organizations fulfill their missions (Schermerhorn 2002). They posess in sum knowledge, expertise, and energy available to promote organizational effectiveness, efficiency and sustainability. The human resource of any organisation is indispensable to an organization's development as they are the actors whose knowledge and performance advance the organization’s purpose, mission, and strategies.
Promoting effective development planning in Ghana therefore demands the availability of individuals whose capacities have been developed to understand the intricacies of development. These persons must be able to appreciate the nature of the process of development to which human beings or societies are entitled to freedom and welfare or upward shifts in their standard of living and also identify this process as the ultimate aim of development planning.
Development planning is an integrative and comprehensive process of conscious actions about the decisions of resource utilization to meet the needs and aspirations of people in a sustainable manner. Currently development actions and interventionism have shifted from a solely economic perspective to a much broader, integrative and participatory processes. Similarly, development planning has also shifted from a “conscious effort on the part of government to follow a definite pattern of economic development in order to promote rapid and fundamental change in the economy and society” (Weitz, 1986) to an integrated approach that recognizes planning as a conscious effort on the part of government to promote quantitative and qualitative improvements in the standard of living of the citizenry by building cross-sectoral linkages and participatory interventions.
The greatest influence of this new perspective has been population. Researchers have identified that human beings live in a complex system; intertwined with several sectoral factors that either facilitate or hinder human welfare. Thus the only way to promote effective development planning is to plan within this context. That is realizing and incorporating these dimensions of society in the development planning process. Through this, there is the recognition that development is human centered and actions must be curved around that which affect human development. To this end, understanding population issues and their intricacies present cogent awareness and responsibility on development planners to integrate the dynamics of population in the development planning process. Literally, development planning can be dubbed holistic development from this perspective. For this, practitioners of the discipline of development planning must have adequate knowledge of population issues and their variations and how these affect interventions to promote human welfare. Critically, the students, teachers, practitioners, and professionals of development planning must appreciate economic, social, environmental and institutional issues as important to the development process.
In Ghana, three main institutions namely the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC), the Regional Coordinating Councils (RCCs) and the District Assemblies (DAs) represent the various levels of development planning in Ghana namely: national, regional and local/district levels accordingly.
Generally, the NDPC is responsible for formulating broad national policies and frameworks for the development of Ghana. They also advice the president on national development issues and make proposal to solving these issues. RCCs on the other hand monitor the development interventions of DAs and provide technical guidance to support planning and implementation at the local level. DAs are responsible for promoting development in their respective jurisdiction through planning, budgeting, resource mobilisation, implementation, and monitoring of development interventions. In Ghana, planning functions are done at the national and sectoral levels, and the local levels.
Since 1993, when the decentralised process of development planning in Ghana has been in full swing, District Planning Coordinating Units have been formed within the District Assembly structure to facilitate the process of development planning. DPCU are required to play lead roles in promoting the outward oriented functions of cities as well as in coordinating the tasks of sector departments to meet the demands of citizens for basic services. Again, there are responsible for the preparation, implementation and monitoring of projects financed through the DACF and by donors.
Unlike the other issues of planning where development is perceived from one direction or perspective such as urban and economic planning, development planning presents an integrative and comprehensive approach to the development of societies. Development planning places man at the centre of interventions by mainstreaming all sectoral issues that affect the development of man.
The realization of this approach to planning in Ghana was facilitated by the decentralization system in Ghana. Through the enactment of the Local Government Act of 1993 (Act 462), the Local Service Law 1993 (Act 656), the National Development (Planning) System Act of 1994 (Act 480), and the National Development Commission Act of 1994 (Act 479), the government of Ghana aims at making development in Ghana responsive and participatory in nature.
Development planning in Ghana was identified as important for promoting development in the respective jurisdiction of District Assemblies through effective planning, budgeting, resource mobilisation, implementation, and monitoring of development interventions.
Generally, population factors are important for effective development planning. That is, development planning must be responsive to the needs and aspiration of citizens, uses resources efficiently and promotes sustainable development of communities. Invariably, the importance of population factors converge on the understanding that “population is the purpose and vehicle for development”
Incorporating population factors into development planning provide the basis for problem identification and needs assessment. It is evident therefore that problems of health, education, housing, water and sanitation as well as issues relating to employment, income, inequality demands specific intervention for solving such problems. Generalizing development interventions in respective of one aim would make development elude so many people just like the past trends where interventions of development were myopic in nature. Fundamentally, integrating population variables into development enable development planners identify the potential, scale, location, speed and patterns of development. Evidence from literature confirms that the primary resources of development are the people and their involvement in the development planning process has been seen as highly crucial in development outcomes. In Nigeria, the strategy of self-participation in rural development is increasingly being recognised as an important instrument for mobilising resources and organising the rural people to take an interest in providing for their well-being (Okafor 1986).
Similarly, before any intervention can be implemented, the target population becomes the focus for determining the coverage of the intervention. Based on this, it is only the understanding of demographic parameters of regions that can determine the scale and location of interventions. Evidence from project planning and management indicates the centrality of the target population in intervention process. Specifically, population factors enable practitioners to understand whether interventions are critical at the community level, district level, regional or at the national level and whether it would be sectoral or cross-sectoral. According to the FAO (2001), understanding the target population would enable practitioners to determine whether interventions could be “an adult literacy project in a village or the provision of universal primary education for all children of school age in a country. Whilst the former needs one trainer and a few teaching materials, the latter requires numerous schools, teachers, equipment and administration”.
More so, current issues of urbanization, slum development, waste management and global warming are as a result of population growth. The dynamic nature of population and societies and the consequences on development are dire issues of contention and deliberation. Development planning must also be dynamic to suit the changing needs and aspirations of society. Integrating population factors in development planning is the only way of understanding these changes and the necessary interventions to be put in place for poverty reduction.
The major consequences of these successes are most often than not correlated to the issues of demographic growth, distribution and composition. Tadoro (1977 cited in Weitz 1986) identifies that the growth of the world’s population is unprecedented but the problem of population growth is not that of numbers but that of human welfare and development. Consequently, the qualities of human life: prosperity, in place of poverty, education in place of ignorance, health in place of ill-health and death, environmental beauty in place deterioration; become the necessary consideration that the anticipated consequences must be directed to. For this reason, understanding the bearing of population, growth, distribution and composition provides the basis for interventions.
Most often as communities, regions and countries develop, people and economic activities become more concentrated. But the speed varies, depending on the spatial scale—economic forces do not operate in a geographic vacuum. The concentration of people and production is fastest locally, slowest internationally (World Bank 2009). The factors causing this concentration are mostly associated with the movement of people. Thus without a corresponding increase in development intervention, the consequences of this transition becomes extremely difficult to manage. The consequence of these movement results in the urbanisation of communities and towns with serious ramification for service delivery and environmental management. Critically, the needs of a population at a particular place change with time and change in population. This therefore places impetus on the need to understand the change and it causative factors to inform development planning process not only to meet the change in need but to identify solutions to factors promoting the trends resulting in the state of negativity.
Notwithstanding, changes in population especially with respect to increases does not always perpetuates negativity. They are strong evidences to confirm the consequential effects of such trends on development especially on economic development. Density, agglomeration, and proximity are fundamental to human advancement, economic productivity, and social equity (Watson 2007). Thus population change; particularly urbanisation; is not merely an unconstructive trend but holds the potential for greater economic growth and welfare if managed well. Unfortunately, it is the lack of appropriate development and urban planning interventions which have failed to incorporate population factors that have perpetuated the incidence of congestion, slums, waste and low access to social infrastructure.
As economies grow from low to high income, production becomes more concentrated spatially. Some places—cities, coastal areas, and connected countries—are favoured by producers. As they develop, “the most successful ones also institute policies that make living standards of people more uniform across space. The way to get both the immediate benefits of the concentration of production and the long-term benefits of a convergence in living standards is economic integration” (World Bank 2009) but that would only be sustain if cross-sectoral relationships are evaluated. This is the framework that the integration of population factors into development espouses.
Similarly, the effects of the other sectors of human beings or society on welfare apart from economics can only be diagnosed if all the variables of development are mainstreamed in development planning. It provides a cross-sectoral view of the causes of development problems in societies that would form the basis of comprehensive programmes and projects. For instance, there is a strong correlation between water, sanitation, housing, education and income levels as against the health status of people. If interventions are sectoral, then the programmes may come from curative perspective rather than preventive. The essence of integrating population factors into development planning is to help tackle development problems from all angles.
As can be inferred from earlier discussions, population factors also serve as indicators for the measurement of welfare improvement. The understanding of the current situation and the comparison with similar information after the implementation of some development interventions to assess impact can only be measured by identifying changes in these population variables. Subsequently, the understanding of population issues is critical and the integration of population variables is fundamental if development planning activities are to be effective and sustainable.
The importance of population dynamics in the development planning process presents one critical issue for decision making. That to promote development that is participatory, integrative and sustainable, there is the need to mainstream population issues in development planning. However, the effectiveness of this approach would be dependent on the capacity of the human resource that is needed to implement this process. Thus building the capacity of actors of development in mainstreaming population variables in development planning at the local, regional and national level is fundamental for the upward movement of the entire development system of Ghana. This would help in reducing poverty and promoting sustainable development.
Okafor F. C. (1987): Participatory Development in Rural Nigeria. Canadian Journal of African Studies, Vol. 21, No. 2. (1987), pp. 231-237
World Bank (2009): Systems of Cities; harnessing urbanization for growth and poverty alleviation, The World Bank Urban and Local Government Strategy, http://www.worldbank.org/urban, Assessed on 28th November 2009
Wietz, R. (1986): The New Road to Development, New York.
Watson V (2007): “Looking to the Future: New Approaches to Urban Development and Assistance Urban Planning and Twenty-First Century Cities: Can It Meet the Challenge?” in Global Urban Poverty Setting the Agenda, eds. Allison M. Garland, Mejgan Massoumi and Blair A. Ruble, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Washington, D.C.
Schermerhorn, J. R. J. (2002): Management, John Wiley and Sons Inc, New York.