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Planning for balanced social, economic and physical development : Ghana Volta basin. Kudiabor, Clemence Degboe Kwashivi

Abstract

Regional planning, as an approach to development planning, in the newly independent nations of the world, is the main subject of this study. The purpose of the study is to demonstrate the hypothesis that to achieve a balanced social, economic and physical development the scale of planning must be regional. Since the region is the link between the national and local community, it provides a suitable frame of reference for the balanced integration of both national and local projects. The Volta Basin in the Republic of Ghana in West Africa, is taken as an illustrative case study. The case study focuses attention on the methods used in designing the Volta Basin Regional Plan. The Plan is meant to demonstrate how regional planning can help towards balanced development by giving due consideration simultaneously to all the factors involved in the development process. The approach taken in the study was, first, to discuss the problem in a general way by analyzing the main features of development planning as currently practised in a number of the newly independent nations. The conclusions drawn from this discussion are that: 1) the major problem of most of the new nations is that of a single-resource economy inherited from their former colonial rulers; 2) the approach to development planning as currently practised in these countries takes the form of National Development Plan and tends to concentrate solely on the economic aspects of development and, to some extent, the social aspects, and ignores the physical aspects of development; 3) while development planning is increasingly becoming the function of Central Governments, the tendency is to be concerned with planning at the national level with no regard for development at the regional and local levels; 4) in those countries where some effort is made in terms of regional planning for development, the approach that is adopted is in the form of either multi-purpose river basin development or the strictly economic regional development. As a result of these shortcomings of current development planning in the newly independent nations, it is further concluded that the failure to give due consideration to all the factors involved in the development process, gives rise to imbalanced development in these countries. The imbalanced development takes the form of excessive concentration of population in a few urban centers which are usually piled up with poor untrained labour from the rural areas. The urban centers are notorious for all forms of social disorganization: crime, overcrowding, unemployment, and other social problems. The unbalanced development also takes the form of unplanned distribution of industry and rural services, and poor location of transportation routes, resulting in expensive remedial measures. The defects of current development planning in the new nations seem to be a result of the conception of the nature of development, namely that development is essentially an economic problem and once the economic factor is considered, the other factors involved will take care of themselves. It seems also that the economic conception of the nature of development is a result of the influence and advice of the specialists interested in the problems of development of these countries. A new conception of development that takes into account the social, economic, cultural, psychological and physical components of the entire society, leads to the view that planning for development must be regional. This is because regional planning considers simultaneously all the factors involved in the development process. The study discusses development planning in Ghana in order to outline the main problems of development in Ghana and to provide the background for the consideration of the regional planning needs of the country. As in the case of the other newly independent nations, it is con eluded from the discussion that Ghana inherited a single-resource economy; its approach to development planning is restricted to planning at the national level with no regard for the implications of development at the regional and local levels; and that planning for development is regarded solely as an economic problem. As a result of these facts, it is further concluded that Ghana fails to achieve a balanced development—throughout the country. This leads to an analysis of the Volta Basin Regional Plan to demonstrate how regional planning can help towards the achievement of balanced development by giving due consideration to all factors involved in the development process. Based on the simultaneous consideration of the social, economic and physical factors, it is possible to make proposals that reflect the needs of Ghana in terms of the distribution of population and industry; the location of the main transportation routes; the distribution of rural services and the location of large non-agricultural uses. The following proposals are made to introduce the planning process of survey, analysis, plan, implementation and revaluation, into the regions of Ghana: 1) expanded National Planning Commission; 2) expanded Regional Planning Agencies, and 3) regional plans for the eight Administrative regions of Ghana.

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