Ibis West Africa facilitating decentralization concept

Mr. Mark Woyongo, Upper East Regional Minister, has urged District Chief Executives (DCEs) and Coordinating Directors of Assemblies (CDAs) in the region to support Ibis West Africa, an international non-governmental organisation (NGO), working to improve good governance in the country, towards the effective implementation of the decentralization process. He said “I would wish to use this opportunity to urge you all to redirect your focus in building the capacity of your people as a way of empowering them so that they can effectively participate in decision making process on developmental issues that affect their lives.” Mr Woyongo said this would make the people feel that they were part of the decision-taking process and it would also enable the authorities to win the people’s support and commitment for the smooth implementation of projects in the districts, especially those that required community participation. He was speaking at a two-day forum organised by the NGO to brief District Chief Executives, District Coordinating Directors, and Regional Coordinating Council from the region on the implementation of the Public Participation in Local Governance Two, (PPLG II) programme and to draw up a work plan for the programme, at Bolgatanga at the weekend. The programme would be implemented by the NGO in all the districts in the Upper East Region, some selected districts in Northern and Greater Accra Regions and Tema and Ashiama. The Minister called on assemblies in the Upper East Region to ensure that all administrative structures, including the Zonal, Urban, Town and Area Councils were established. Mr Woyongo noted that the Programmes’ objective of ensuring transparency and accountability was in line with the National Democratic Congress’ (NDC) Manifesto. He said government would ensure greater transparency by publishing in the media resources made available to district assemblies. Mr Woyongo said government would also establish a special unit on Evaluation and Oversight at the Office of the President to be responsible for assessing the work of government functionaries as well policies. The Country Programme Director of Ibis West Africa responsible for Ghana, Mr. Clement Nana Tandor said the pilot programme, which was executed in the Bawku Municipal, Bawku West and Garu–Tempane had worked perfectly and people at the local level could now participate effectively in local governance. He said that the NGO was non-partisan and sought to build a relationship between the assemblies, civil society organizations and communities to enable the people participate fully in the progammes of the assemblies. Mr Tandor appealed to District Chief Executives to encourage the people to take part in activities of the assemblies and said Ibis West Africa was providing funding for the assemblies to implement the PPLG 11. He stressed the need for the assemblies to build structures for effective administration and provide capacity building for officials of the structures. Participants discussed various issues regarding the effective implementation of the decentralization process and stressed the need for assemblies to create the necessary environment for people at the grassroots to participate in decision-making at the assembly level. They were taken through topics including the Role of Regional Coordinating Council, Municipal and District Assemblies, Civil Society Organizations in Public Participation in Local Government and findings of a baseline survey conducted by Ghartey Consult on PPLG 1 was disseminated to them. Another concern that was raised at the forum was the hijacking of assemblies’ programmes by District Chief Executives, depriving community members the chance to participate in decision-making and implementation of projects. The NGO has successful implemented the first phase of the programme that was done on pilot bases in the Bawku Municipal, Bawku West and Garu-Tempane in the Upper East Region and East Mamprusi District in the Northern Region within a period of five years. The Programme is aimed at empowering poor people, especially women, to enable them properly organize themselves and actively participate in shaping policies, influence prioritisation of projects and resource allocation at local and national level for equitable development.