Civil society organisations and local officials at the Gushiegu and Karaga District Assemblies have criticised the Ghanaian media for not taking their time to educate citizens on critical national development issues especially research work.
Citing the 2015 District League Table (DLT) report published by the Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana), the CSOs and local officials chastised the media for creating a false impression about the performance of the districts surveyed.
According to the DCE for Karaga District, Mr. Imoro Yakubu, “....When the DLT was released last year, the media created a bad impression that we were not doing our work well. Today you have clarified that.
“It is all about how well developed or not we are and areas of service delivery we need to improve upon. With this understanding, we can better involve our citizens in the governance process and deliver targeted improved services”, he noted.
The Gushiegu District Director of Health Service, Alhaji A.B. Yakubu, also said: “It’s quite an eye opener. Hitherto, we were quite unhappy with the way the DLT was presented....it looked like those of us at the bottom were non-performing. From this interaction, you have shown us that it is not necessarily so but there are other factors that may contribute to that.
“Going forward, the media must be made to understand that the DLT is not a measure of non-performance but levels of development to prevent the apprehension the earlier media reports on DLT launch created. The DLT should also go beyond the scores to share reasons so that we identify what is working well to promote cross learning”, he suggested.
At a day’s forum held separately in Karaga and Gushiegu, participants urged the media to take their time when reporting on critical issues like research that bordered on development at the local levels in order to inspire hope in managers of local assemblies.
Introduced in 2014, the DLT is a social accountability tool that ranks Ghana’s 216 districts by their level of development and service delivery. Based on consultations with the ministries and agencies concerned, the DLT uses indicators from 6 key sectors –health, education, sanitation, water, governance and security, to compile a single score for each district. All the 216 districts are then ranked from the district in 1st place down to that in 216th place. With this ranking, it is possible to track which districts are doing well in Ghana and can be learnt from, and which are struggling and need greater support.
|Picture By RISE-Ghana: Some Participants At The Gushiegu Forum|
The forum was funded by the CDD-Ghana with support from the William and Flora Foundation as part of the “I Am Aware (IAA)” project implementation which seeks to improve public goods and service delivery in Ghana.
IAA also seeks to align citizens’ desire for quality public goods and service delivery with public officials’ accountability and responsiveness, by generating accessible or reader-friendly information on the state of public goods and service delivery in the education, health, water, sanitation, agriculture, roads and security sectors via a website www.iamawareghana.com.
The objective of the fora were to mobilize state actors (local officials) and non-state actors (CSOs) to empower them with data on the current state of public service delivery in their respective districts.
In its 2016 Medium Term Development Plans (MTDPs), the Gushiegu District Assembly projected to invest GH¢1,630,178.68 in education, health GH¢952,102.06 and water, sanitation and environment GH¢692,684.37, whereas in the DLT the district scored 36.7 percent in security, health 38.9 percent and water 75.7 percent. It placed 25th out of the 26 districts in the region and 212thout of 216 in DLT score.
For the Karaga District, the Assembly in its 2016 MTDPs projected to invest GH¢2,665,167.00 in education, health GH¢2,016,000.00 and water, sanitation and environment GH¢144,333.00, whereas in the DLT the district scored 21.6 percent in security, health 19.5 percent, water 74.4 percent, education 49.0 percent and sanitation 0 percent. It placed 26th regionally and 215th nationally (an improvement of one spot from the least developed district placing 216 in 2014).
The Executive Director of RISE-Ghana, Mr. Awal Ahmed, explained that the forum was also intended to collect the views of participants on the state of public goods and services, assess the current approaches in service delivery and their views on the role of data as well as current data sources used for planning in their districts.
But the Chief of Gushiegu, Naa Sugri I. Sandow said: “Honestly, based on what I have seen, no one can tell me the Gusheigu District is performing up to expectation. They (local officials) have to put in their best and next time move from being second to last in the next DLT. We have been empowered to walk to DCEs and other people in high positions not to confront them but to discuss issues and demand improved services.”
Mr. Amidu Ziblim, a PTA representative also noted: “The IAA data is very useful, but it must go beyond the scores to provide information on how many water facilities are actually usable. It is sad that many schools still don’t have water and in the dry season, we the people of Gusheigu barely get water to drink. The score for water should be looked at to include those in peri-urban areas,” he recommended.