The Asante-Akim North Municipal and Asante-Akim South District Assemblies are considering a proposal to identify areas of common interest to develop for the mutual benefit of the two Districts.
The proposal, which seeks to offer adjoining districts the opportunity to identify common development areas and jointly develop action plans for their implementation is being spearheaded by the Bureau of Integrated Rural Development (BIRD) of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST).
At a day's workshop organised by BIRD for the two assemblies at Konongo-Odumase to facilitate the proposal, participants drawn from the two assemblies lauded the concept and made significant input to the deliberation.
The participants, which included chief executives, co-ordinating directors, planning officers, budget officers, assembly members and chiefs identified employment, education and road network as key areas that required collaborative efforts to effectively address.
They argued that lack of employment and low standard of education were the two major problems confronting the two assemblies and agreed to jointly fashion out concrete measures to arrest the situation.
Among the interventions proposed by the two assemblies were the establishment of extractive industries with emphasis on quarry as well as the provision of irrigation, processing and storage facilities to add value to farm produce and further boost agriculture in the area.
They further suggested a common mock examination and the enactment of bye-laws to enforce compulsory education in the area as a means of improving on standard of education.
On roads, the participants recognized the need for the acquisition of a grader to help improve accessible roads in the hinterlands to facilitate transportation of farm produce to market centres.
The participants also identified Konongo-Nkawkaw highway as accident-prone area and recommended the construction of speed ramps as well as towing station where broken down vehicles on the highway would be towed to in order to reduce accidents on the road and also generate revenue.
Dr. Sarfo Mensah, Research Fellow at BIRD, said the concept was an important approach to facilitate and consolidate the decentralization process, adding that, it would encourage the identification and management of joint development area amongst districts.
This will not only improve effective collaboration between contiguous districts but will lead to improved integrated district planning which is essential for maximizing the potential and opportunities of districts assemblies to bring sustainable development to their constituents, he added.
Dr Mensah noted that BIRD would assist the two assemblies to develop legal framework for the promotion of the proposal, stressing that a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) would also be signed to ensure equitable recovery of investments.
Rev. Dr. Akwasi Owusu-Bi, a Senior Research Fellow at BIRD, said his outfit was mandated to help in sustainable development of rural communities to improve the living conditions of the poor and the deprived in the country, adding that, the proposal was one of the innovative initiatives to help improve the lot of the people.
He said the project was being piloted in six contiguous districts in Ashanti, including Asante-Akim North and South, Sekyere East/Afram Plains, Kwabre and Afigya-Sekyere, indicating that it would be extended to other regions when successful.
Rev. Dr Owusu-Bi also said it was time for district assemblies to move away from solely relying on District Assemblies Common Fund for their development projects and initiate moves to improve other sources of funding through viable proposals.
He urged assemblies not to sideline chiefs in the execution of development projects since they were the custodians of lands needed for such projects.