|Mr. Awal Ahmed|
State and non-state actors in the Karaga District of the Northern Region of Ghana, have agreed there is insufficient service delivery and accessibility in the water, health and education sectors and have called for increased investment.
At a sensitisation forum facilited by the Rural Initiatives for Self Empowerment-Ghana (RISE-Ghana) to discuss the state of public service delivery in the Karaga District, participants said more needed to be done in the areas identified in order to bring improvement in the living standards of all citizens.
The forum was funded by the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) with support from the William and Flora Foundation as part of a project that seeks to improve public goods and service delivery in Ghana.
The project- dubbed “I Am Aware (IAA)”, 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.
For instance, the non-state actors comprising of youth, traditional leaders, religious leaders and informal sector workers were of the view that, the current state of the water sector in the district was worse, a sharp contrast with the position of the state actors (local authorities).
The participants therefore cited health, water and education as priority service delivery areas requiring urgent attention and charged local government authorities to make more investments in the coming years in order to attain quality healthcare and improved literacy rate.
The Karaga District is one of the 26 districts in the Northern Region of Ghana. It was carved out of the Gushiegu-Karaga District in August, 2004 backed by Legislative Instrument (L.I. 2146). According to the 2010 Population and Housing Census, its population is 77,706 representing 3.1% of the region’s total population. Males constitute 48.0% and females represent 52.0%. The population is entirely rural.
The Karaga Districts is the least developed district in the Northern Region as it placed 26th on the District League Table (DLT) which measures the level of development using indicators of Health, Water, Sanitation, Education, Security and Governance. It placed 26th regionally and 215th nationally (an improvement of one spot from the least developed district placing 216 in 2014).
The objective of the recent forum in Karaga was to create an enabling environment for improvement in the delivery of public goods and services by mobilizing state and non-state actors to empower them with data on the current state of public service delivery in their district.
According to the Executive Director of RISE-Ghana, Awal Ahmed, the forum was also 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 programming at the district level.
Participants were taken through the current state of public service delivery in their district using the 2015 DLT and the 2016 District Medium Term Development Plans (DMTDPs) as discussion documents.
This afforded participants the opportunity to compare the relevance of plans and budget projections as well as generate dialogue by showing evidence of areas that needed more attention.
For instance, in the 2016 MTDPs, the Karaga District Assembly 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.
During open discussions, the District Chief Executive for Karaga, Mr. Imoro Yakubu, told organisers: “Your presentation today is an eye opener, when the District League Table 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 said.
“I have learnt a lot today and now I know that Karaga is the least developed district in Northern Region. I have visited the www.iamawareghana.com website already and downloaded some information that we can use to empower our groups to do their advocacy. Information is power and I want to be an active volunteer of IAA to tell people to visit the website. I am happy that the data comes from the state actors themselves. When citizens are well informed, they become empowered to engage and demand their rights and improved service delivery” –Suweidu Abdulai, a representative of GDCA, a local NGO in Karaga District.
Alhassan Mahmud, another non-state actor also said: “The IAA project is very good because it allows us to access data to make a solid case when meeting the big people to demand services. It will encourage us to compare what they have and what is there.”