The Ghana’s Strengthening Accountability Mechanisms (GSAM) has educated citizens in the Garu and Bawku West Districts in the Upper East Region with knowledge on local governance, to promote effective participation and development.At separate training organized by the Community Development and Advocacy Centre (CODAC), about 150 individuals selected from various communities across the two districts were trained as Community Development Monitors (CDMs) to effectively monitor capital projects for effective execution of those projects.
The training was to further ensure that Ghana’s Strengthening Accountability Mechanisms (GSAM) project funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) was sustained and continued in the districts even after its completion in September 2020.
The GSAM, a social accountability project, is being implemented in collaboration with Oxfam in Ghana, CARE International and the Integrated Social Development Centre (ISODEC) in about 100 districts across all the 16 regions and in Garu, Bawku West and Builsa South in the Upper East Region.
The selected beneficiaries were taken through the community development planning and implementation processes, legal framework for citizen participation in local governance and the role of community development monitor, to ensure citizens monitored capital projects in their respective communities.
Mr Bukari Issaku, Executive Director, CODAC, explained that the decentralization structure of the Local Government Act empowered citizens with the right and responsibility to effectively participate in governance and development processes of their communities and the sensitization programme would help enhance their knowledge in that area.
Mr Issaku said community development monitors were therefore to play critical roles in the execution of capital projects in their various communities to ensure quality and value for money and the sustainability and expansion of the GSAM project.
He said when communities were empowered with the local government framework, they would demand accountability from the district assemblies and effective community engagement would be carried out during siting of any capital project, to ensure that it benefited the community.
The Executive Director advised the community development monitors to ensure neutrality in their work, devoid of political prejudice so as to ensure peace and development.
Mr Sharif Yunus Abu-Bakr, the GSAM project Zonal Officer, Oxfam in Ghana, said the overall goal of the GSAM project was to improve local governance, transparency, accountability and performance by making information available to citizens to enable them engage the local authorities for effective and efficient implementation of capital projects.
He advised the community development monitors to avoid fighting contractors but rather employ the appropriate channels by reporting to the local authorities for redress.
The beneficiaries expressed gratitude that they had been empowered with the knowledge of participatory local governance and pledged to be social auditors in their respective communities.