Six Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) in Northern Ghana, have committed to improve information disclosure and accountability to citizens, in a bid to actively engage them in local governance decision-making process for speedy development.
The Assemblies include the Tamale Metropolitan, Savelugu-Nanton and West Mamprusi districts in the Northern Region, as well as Sissala-East district, Nandom district and Wa Municipal in the Upper West Region.
The move followed a collaboration brokered by the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) with the Assemblies, local radio stations and community-based organizations under its media for participatory and accountable local governance project.
Ms Abigail Larbi-Odei, MFWA’s Programme Officer for Media, Democracy and Development told the Ghana News Agency that the partnership would deepen democracy and local governance practice at the grass roots.
The Foundation’s “Radio for Participatory and Accountable local governance project” has been implemented in more than 20 districts across the country in different phases.
Feedback from the earlier phases of the project showed demonstrable listener satisfaction, improved service delivery and demand-driven development, the foundation, she said.
According to the Foundation, this is the third phase of the project in the Northern and Upper West Regions funded by the Canadian High Commission and the Embassy of the United States.
Under the deal, she said citizens in six districts in Northern and Upper West regions will enjoy access to more platforms that enable them to engage local authorities on pertinent governance and development issues.
“Through consistent radio programming and community governance dialogues, the citizens will more importantly have increased opportunity to interact frequently, hear more about local developments, ask questions and highlight their concerns for appropriate actions and responses from their local government authorities,” she added.
Ms Larbi-Odei said between December 2015 and August 2016, more than 80 weekly radio discussion sessions will be held on six selected local radio stations.
Each session termed: “time with the assembly,” she explained will feature local government officials on different topics with phone-in and Whatsapp platforms that allow citizens to ask direct questions and raise concerns during the programmes.
There will also be the “State of the District” Radio Broadcasts where District Chief Executives will feature on air and discuss how the district fared over a period, the gaps and way forward.
She also said several governance community forums would be held to augment citizens’ sensitization and duty bearers’ responsiveness to issues raised by citizens through the radio and other governance dialogue platforms.
“Citizens’ participation is central to good governance and development and for proper development to take place, citizens must be consulted and adequately engaged in the governance of their daily lives, a process radio provides a significant impetus,” she noted.
She also said “when leaders commit to and actually disclose information to citizens; it helps to build trust in leaders and reduce the agitations and apathy on the part of citizens towards local development”.
Hence this initiative to bridge the communication gap between citizens and their local government leaders.
The other project partners in the Northern Region are: Radio Justice, the Centre for Active Learning and Integrated Development; Might FM, Ghana Developing Communities Association, Eagle FM and Asiri Bisi Self Help Project.
The rest found in the Upper West Region include, RADFORD FM, Action for Sustainable Development; Radio Freed, Partnership for Rural Development Action, Radio Progress, Centre for the Alleviation of Poverty, and the Environment and Child Support.
This article was originally published on www.ghananewsagency.com, December 13, 2015.