EU supports local governance with over 1m Euros
By: Bernice Bessey
To effectively promote public participation in local governance, the Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) has secured a grant of 1,849,265 Euros from the European Union (EU), to implement a three year project on 'promoting social accountability through citizens' participation in local governance.'
The project, which seeks to strengthen Citizens-Government engagement would be carried out in 17 districts across the country, with the objective to enhance participation of democracy and improving transparency and an accountably system of local governance
According to the CDD-Ghana project officer, Mr. P.N.K, Aborampah, the project is also aimed at reducing citizens' apathy in local governance.
He emphasized that several studies in Ghana have established that the issues of responsiveness and accountability remain elusive in Ghana's administrative system, even though it has been entrenched in the constitution.
He noted that the problem of accountability and interest in local governance systems is more pronounced in the local communities, where successive district assembly elections have recorded low patronage.
This, he blamed on the lack of committed and effective local political leadership with desired political will to engage community based non-state actors.
'The absence of a professional working relationship between local administrators, officials and assembly members and civil society-community based organization is adverse to citizens' participation in local governance,' he stressed.
'The ineffective working relationship has distance the assemblies from citizens' participation. More disturbing is the lack or ineffective system of information with regards to the operations of districts assemblies,' he asserted.
Mr. Aborampah further stressed that this state of affairs has led to the emergence of inefficient and unaccountable structures and procedures, leading to poor service delivery at the local levels.
The head of delegation from the European Union (EU), Mr. Claude Maerten said the grant will thus contribute to responsiveness, transparent and accountable governance in the country, especially in the local government administration.
He noted that the project would 'increase citizens understanding and participation in governance processes in their communities, with special focus on traditional authorities, organized groups such as persons living with disability, women and youth groups, and grassroots activists of political parties.'
The head of delegation added that the EU is with the conviction that accountability of public officials and citizens' empowerments are the bedrock of good governance and pre -requisite for effective democracy.
'It is my hope that civil society groups involved in the implementation of social accountability initiatives will help clarify the roles and accountability relationships among government officials, traditional authorities and citizens by mediating the different interest groups in the larger interest of the public' he advised.
He noted that in promoting social accountability, civil society organizations have a role in helping government to better understand citizens' priorities and adopt a collaborative approach towards meeting these priorities.
'It is my hope and expectation that at the end of the project, some of the results to be accomplished will include building citizens' confidence and the awareness of their rights, creating public space for debate and platforms for effective citizen-state dialogue at local and national level, facilitating the development of coalitions and alliances that speak with a united voice,' he said.