Sanitation Dilemmas and Africa’s Urban Futures: Foregrounding Environmental Public Health in Contemporary Urban Planning
AbstractAfrica is rising, so goes the current narrative on Africa’s growth and development prospects. While most of these narratives are in direct reference to economic indicators and existing potentials for Africa’s sustainable development, there is no doubt that the rapidly urbanizing landscapes of Africa, characterized by sprawling cities, high-rise buildings, and flashy city lights represent an urban revolution in most of Africa’s cities. Beneath the glow of flashy city lights lies a dark and gloomy contrast: inner city slums, sanitation dilemmas and environmental public health challenges which converge to pose significant challenges to Africa’s broader sustainable development aspirations. This paper foregrounds urban sanitation challenges and public health imperatives from a contemporary urban planning perspective. The paper argues that urban planning and public health have shared a close historical relationship both in thinking and practice; however, recent developments in urbanization processes have seen the two professions drift apart. The paper further asserts that human habitat considerations from the perspective of urban planning in Ghana, in particular, treat issues of sanitation management and public health and safety issues as after-thoughts and are excluded in initial planning processes. While the paper acknowledges the influence of increased population growth and the reality of climate change in current urbanization processes, the paper advocates for new approaches that make cities and other urbanizing communities resilient.
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