Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Help Assemblies To Identify Priority Areas For Investment –Journalists Urged

Mr. Awal Ahmed

The Executive Director of Rural Initiatives for Self Empowerment Awal Ahmed, has urged journalists to help District Assemblies to identify the priorities and needs of their citizens so that they can make the right investments that will bring economic improvement in their lives.

He said one way journalists could effectively help the District Assemblies is by highlighting the priorities and needs of ordinary citizens to the attention of local officials so that those priorities and needs could be captured during planning and budgeting processes.

According to him, some District Assemblies refuse to take on board the wishes and concerns of their people when drawing their development plans or planning the execution of projects that are supposedly intended for the benefit of the people. 

“Apart from the president, the only people political appointees such as District Chief Executives will listen to are journalists. As the voice of the people, you know and understand what the needs of ordinary citizens are and therefore, you can help amplify the concerns of citizens so that the DCE can see reason to consider them”, Mr. Ahmed said this during a workshop organised by RISE-Ghana and the Centre for Democratic Development in Tamale.

The workshop was organised for selected media actors to build their capacity as part of efforts to improve governance and the quality of service delivery at the district level. It was intended to enhance the knowledge of journalists in using evidence from the District League Table (DLT) and the I Am Aware Data to inform evidence based advocacy for improved service delivery.

The primary purpose of the workshop was to create awareness and identify key service delivery areas such as health, education, water and among others for citizens, and for the media to champion and monitor for improved service delivery for better outcomes in sectors such as health, education, security, governance, water and sanitation.

Development at the District Assembly level is often largely dependent on the efforts of local authorities and the amount of resources they are able to generate locally through taxes. At times, too, periodic support in the form of the District Assembly’s Common Fund, District Development Fund and among others from the central government and other development partners, makes it possible for Assemblies to provide the needed development for their people.
A Section Journalists At The Workshop

For instance, results of the annual DLT strongly suggest that, some District Assemblies are well endowed and therefore, are able to gather enough resources to implement monumental projects such as schools, hospitals, sanitation facilities, roads and markets among others.

On the other hand, the results also give an indication that other District Assemblies are unable to provide the same or similar facilities owing to lack of or inadequate revenue generation sources, disorganise priorities and incompetent civil servants. 

According to Mr. Ahmed, the DLT which was introduced in 2014 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 ones are struggling and need greater support”, he explained.

The Executive Director RISE-Ghana encouraged journalists to visit and make use of relevant information cutting across health, education and water and sanitation. “Information and data on this website would tell you whether your district is on the right track in terms of development in the key areas cited”, he stressed.

Meanwhile, a three-member media monitoring group comprising of Mr. Muturla Issah from Radio Savannah, Mr. Zadok Kwame Gyesi, Daily Graohic and Mr. Joseph Ziem of The Daily Dispatch was formed to engage in social actions on public services.

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