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15.11.2009 Social News

Civil Society Builds Capacity in Decentralization Process

By Kofi Adu Domfeh
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Civil society organizations (CSOs) are repositioning themselves to play a catalyst role in the on-going dialogue to shape Ghana's decentralization process.

They are calling for concerted media partnership to help sustain awareness-creation for the citizenry to own the local government concept.

The concerns were shared at a two-day knowledge and capacity building workshop in Kumasi organized by the Local Governance Network (LOGNet), an umbrella organization of CSOs working to promote effective decentralization and local governance through the promotion of citizen's participation in decision-making and development.

Acting National Coordinator of LOGNet, Douglas Quartey says the decentralization process has faced some challenges partly due to some ambiguities in the policy framework as well as the conception and implementation of the concept without the intent of fully relinquishing power from the centre.

He says the expected outcomes, such as participation of citizens and the improvement in accountability relations between local government officials and other duty bearers to citizens in the districts among other things have been limited.

Mr. Quartey says the review of the country's decentralization process is an important opportunity for the media and other non-state actors to identify and articulate their views on how to make decentralization in Ghana effective. According to him, “it is important that the ordinary citizen who is expected to be the major beneficiary is made aware of what is going on in order to create a sense of local ownership and inclusiveness which are vital elements in entrenching good local governance”.

LOGNet Zonal Representative for the Ashanti and Bono Ahafo regions, Christopher Dapaah highlighted the important role of civil society organizations in the development of the Ghanaian economy, stating the need to empower and rekindle the CSOs to have keen interest and enthusiasm to promote development in the local communities as well as ensure accountability and good governance.

Ashanti Regional Minister, Kofi Opoku-Manu notes that “the bane of the deplorable state of some of our communities is basically the result of lack of confidence on the part of various stakeholders at the district level to compel local authorities to take the right decisions”.

He believes a lot could be achieved with the support and active participation of the people in the process of administration.

Participants at the workshop emphasized the active involvement and support of the citizenry in the decentralization process would depend on the ability of civil society and the media to create awareness and also mobilize citizens to engage their duty bearers.

They noted that the lack of awareness of citizens on the roles and responsibilities of the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MDAs) impacts on their ability to engage effectively with their duty bearers and also exact accountability.

The LOGNet workshop is the second in a series of four zonal workshops being organized by the network for its members and media personnel to build knowledge in the decentralization process in a bid to influence policy and equip targeted groups to work effectively at the local level.

Story by Kofi Adu Domfeh
Development / Accra / Ghana / Africa /

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