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Regional News Fri, 22 May 2009

Govt committed to bring development to door steps of people-Ofosu-Ampofo

Koforidua, May 22, GNA- Mr Samuel Ofosu-Ampofo, Eastern Regional Minister, on Friday said government would promote strong partnership with individuals and civil society to bring development to the door steps of the people.

He said however that the level of growth and development "we need as a country cannot be achieved at the grassroots level if citizens are unable to dialogue with government, since every individual is important when it comes to programme planning, implementation and monitoring". Mr Ofosu-Ampofo was addressing the opening of Rights and Voice Initiative (RAVI), a community based organization (CBO) festival in Koforidua under the theme ": Citizen Government Engagement-A Key to Sustainable Grassroots Development". He said the inclusion of people at the local level in decision making was therefore critical in achieving holistic approach to development, adding that it was one of the best methods of promoting transparency and accountability.

"In this regard, the period where leaders used to take decisions and implement them without the necessary consultation with those concerned should be seen as a thing of the past". "If we allow this to continue, it would adversely undermine the principles of democracy". Mr Ofosu-Ampofo said people should be empowered to exercise their voice by demanding their rights and asking questions about issues that affect them. He said in that respect RAVI's approach of empowering and building the capacity of vulnerable groups to speak up for themselves was highly commendable.

"This undoubtedly, demonstrates the commitment of RAVI and its partners to ensuring social justice and the promotion and protecting human rights". Mr Ofosu-Ampofo said the government would continue to provide favourable atmosphere for "Government and citizens' engagement" as well as encourage rights-based civil society activities. Mr Sam Ocran, RAVI Co-ordinator, said the association was funded by DFID as part of its support for strengthening civil society to exercise voice and accountability from the government.

He said RAVI had so far provided support for 34 non-government organizations and about 104 CBOs throughout the country. Mr Ocran said the support had been in the form of funding and capacity building of the CBOs aimed at equipping them to engage the government and its agencies as well as traditional authorities and the private sector to be responsible and accountable to its citizens. Mrs Josephine Sackey, RAVI President, said a key objective of RAVI was to ensure that there were strong grassroots organizations that are capable of engaging with the decentralized local government structures for the promotion, protection, respect for and fulfilment of the rights of citizens in the districts.

Source: GNA