A GNA feature by Christian Akorlie
Accra, Nov GNA - Effective management of infrastructure at the community level remains a vital link to ensuring the continuous and sustainable provision of public services in towns and villages. This is important for revenue generation, which the Districts Assemblies require to drive their development programmes; increase provision and access to vital services such as health and water and to enable them make meaningful contribution to the country's development efforts.
Since 1996, the Federal Republic of Germany has committed over 30 million Euros to support Ghana's decentralization programme aimed to empower local communities, prop up management efficiencies and ensure effective decision-making at the local level.
Under the promotion of District Capitals and Towns Project, the German Government through the German Development Cooperation, is assisting various districts to enhance their capacity for planning and implementing urban infrastructure facilities, such as markets and lorry parks and given education on how to operate and maintain them on sustainable basis.
"The projects are operated as demand driven projects, in that the beneficiary communities identify and propose the type of projects to be executed," Dr Wolfram Fischer, Programme Leader German Technical Cooperation, explained.
Each beneficiary community also contributes 10 per cent of the investment cost.
However, how well these projects are managed and sustained, is a key test to the managerial abilities of the various districts and communities. This came into sharp focus during a recent study-tour of Ghana German Cooperation Funded Projects in the Brong-Ahafo and Ashanti Regions by the Ghana News Agency.
Constructed at the cost of 3.1 billion cedis, the Atebubu Market and Lorry Park is a shinning example of an efficient management practice at the local level. The market being managed by a 10-member Market Management Committee, made up of representatives drawn from Traditional Leaders, District Assembly, Market Women, and other stakeholders, offers useful lessons for other market operators to copy.
The Committee supervises and formulates policies. However, a three-man Management team does the day to day running of the market. "Before we took over the market in June 2003, the Atebubu Market Company formed by the Assembly, had woefully failed to deliver on their revenue generation. They were also unable to manage areas of sanitation and maintenance," Mr Amankwah Kokro, Chairman of the Committee told the promised 2.5 million cedis a week to the Assembly, but also left in its wake two months outstanding wages for cleaners; 12 million cedis electricity bill and no money in the Operation and Maintenance Accounts as well as an appalling environment.
"We've been able to reverse all these," Kokro said. The Management Committee pays a net revenue of three million cedis a month to the DA, had so far lodged 131 million cedis in the Maintenance Accounts and is up to date with salaries of the 36 staff it had engaged.
"All these became possible because we are committed to the cause of improving the lots of our people," he said.
"The Management Model allows stakeholder participation, transparency and accountability and efficient management of finances among other things, Dorothea Groth, Counsellor German Embassy told the GNA.
The Nkoranza Water Supply System is another example of good management at work. Built in 2001 at the cost of 4.2 billion cedis, the system was designed to meet the water requirements of Nkoranza up to the year 2013. It consists of four mechanized boreholes and one spring source with 10 kilometre of transmission mains, and 49 public standpipes. Each standpipe serves a population of about 500 people. A Water and Sanitation Board, with representations from all stakeholders, handles the Management of the water system. The system was built with each resident contributing 70,000 cedis to the investment cost.
The day to day running of the system, however, is in the hands of the General Technical Supervisor.
Residents buy a bucket of water at 100 cedis. People engaged to sell the water at the various standpipes get 15 per cent commission on the amount of sales. From these the Management has been able to invest over 228 million cedis and maintains an operational fund for meeting the daily maintenance of the water system.
Dr Wolfgang Weth, Director KFW, Accra said the main idea for communities to generate their own income is to ensure that the projects become sustainable even when support is withdrawn.
"The idea is to save money to finance any future replacement cost of our tools. We do not want to be caught unprepared when the unexpected happened," Mr Kwame Ampofo Twumasi, Nkoranza District Chief Executive, explained.
However, to sustain the good management trend calls for continuous capacity building for staff at the local level.