Introduction: The Bongo District CSOs Platform on SDGs in an effort to promote transparency and accountability of public resource management for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals embarked on monitoring and tracking of COVID-19 response activities and resources in the district.
As a strategy to obtain adequate, accurate and reliable information for tracking and monitoring of the COVID-19 response activities of the government and political parties, the Platform began the process by organizing public engagement forums on radio with the Bongo District Assembly and the political parties contesting the 2020 general elections to engage with citizens especially community advocacy teams on their respective activities aimed at not only containing and preventing the spread of the virus but also mitigating the impact of Covid-19 on the population.
Public Engagement Forum with District Assembly: The Bongo District Assembly led by the District Chief Executive (DCE), Hon Peter Ayimbisa in the engagement forum on Bongo Community Radio stated that the Assembly had used a total of Two Hundred and Thirty Six Thousand, Three Hundred Ghana Cedis (Ghc236, 300.00) from the Assembly’s Common Fund and the District Performance Assessment Tool (D-PAT) to provide 173 Veronica buckets, 1,753 liquid soap, 323 hand sanitizers, 876 tissue, 4,150 nose masks and 5 thermometers.
It was stated further that the Assembly had always prioritized water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in its development agenda and had therefore planned and budgeted for key development projects to promote WASH in the district even before the advent of Covid-19. These projects were listed as one mechanized borehole with 3 poly-tanks in the Bongo town market, hand pump borehole at Zorko market with 3 poly-tanks, and another 3 Poly-tanks provided in Bongo-Soe market which was to be connected to small town water project in the area. It was stated that the Assembly also constructed toilet facility in the Bongo market square and was waiting to be connected to the mechanized borehole in the same area.
The Hon DCE added that another toilet facility which was constructed near the house of the linguist of the paramount chief was about to be commissioned for use following the procurement of some remaining items worth Ghc3,000.00 for its completion.
According to the DCE, more toilet facilities had been constructed by the Assembly in a number of locations in the district with considerable large public gatherings. In providing the specifics, the DCE said new 10-seated toilet facilities had been constructed and these were located near the District Health Management Team (DHMT) in Bongo as well as Adaboya, Feo, Namoo, Asogta, Balungu and Soe communities.
In an acknowledgement of the contributions of development partners to the fight against Covid-19 pandemic, the support of Water Aid Ghana was acknowledged and appreciated as the organization provided 20 veronica buckets, 20 liquid soap, 250 hand sanitizers, 20 tissue paper, 500 nose masks and 3 thermometers.
The Bongo District Assembly used the opportunity to sensitize the people about policy interventions, resources and opportunities in the 2020 Mid-year Budget Statement of the Government meant to reduce the impact of Covid-19 on the people and mentioned the extension of free water policy for another 3 months, free electricity for households consuming 50kw and 50% of those consuming beyond 50kw, allocation and disbursement of Ghc 600 million to support Covid-19 impacted businesses. It was said that a number of applicants especially those who applied for smaller amounts had started receiving the support through their mobile money accounts.
Public Engagement Forum with the Political Parties: Political parties took turns in the engagement forum to share with the public, the impact of the pandemic on their campaign activities, contributions of the parties to fighting the pandemic and their commitments to providing more Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) as well as observing the health and safety protocols.
In addressing the engagement forum, the Secretary of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) in the Bongo Constituency, Mr Awinmakya Nsobila Stephen stated among others that the party led by the Chairman and Member of Parliament had always valued the lives of the people of Bongo and therefore used the Common Fund of the MP and other party funds to provide 75 Veronica buckets to markets and other areas of social gathering, 1,296 liquid soap, 400 hand sanitizers, 265 tissue paper, 10 thermometers to Bongo hospital and clinics in Zorko, Anafobiisi , Namoo, Soe and Awaglega communities.
According to him, the NDC was the first party to do a jingle on Radio Bongo to sensitize the people of Covid-19 and how to contain and prevent the spread of Covid-19. The party also visited all communities and markets in the district for public sensitizations on the safety protocols and how to contain and prevent its spread.
On the NDC party’s commitment to prioritizing supply of PPE in gatherings for political activities in the elections, the Constituency Secretary said the party had committed to using 50% of its resources to providing more nose masks and ensuring availability of adequate water and liquid soap at campaign grounds for proper hand washing. He added that the NDC would meet with smaller groups instead of large gatherings to sell their campaign message.
The New Patriotic Party (NPP) on its part, said the number of nose masks, veronica buckets, liquid soap, thermometers, tissue paper and other Covid-19 response items that the party in government and the DCE who is also the parliamentary candidate did for the people in Bongo were countless and could not be mentioned within the time-frame of the programme. He said the DCE and Parliamentary Candidate, for instance, used his own pocket money to provide 80 veronica buckets to the various markets in the District and also worked hard to get the support of Water Aid Ghana to support the whole district with many items.
Like the NDC, the NPP represented by the Constituency Communication Officer, Mr. Kwame Amoah also stated the party’s commitment to a continued observation of the safety protocols and reducing the usual party’s T-Shirts, handkerchiefs and other paraphernalia and rather increasing the supply of Covid-19 response items.
Field Monitoring and Tracking: The Platform after obtaining a lot of information from the District Assembly and Political Parties on Covid-19 response activities and projects undertaken by them then embarked on field monitoring and tracking of the activities and projects shared during the engagement forum. In the five communities that were visited, a number of the projects were seen but with some still under construction. Most of the veronica buckets were without water and liquid soap.
Conclusion: The Bongo District CSOs Platform on SDGs would continue to monitor progress of those projects under construction for documentation and reporting.
Bismark Adongo Ayorogo