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Regional News Tue, 13 Nov 2007

IDEG, IBIS Ghana hold forum on governance issues in Upper East.

Garu-Tempane (U/E), Nov. 13, GNA - The Institute of Democratic Governance (IDEG) in collaboration with IBIS Ghana, a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) on Tuesday organised a day's forum for the public on governance issues in the Garu-Tempane District.

The Governance Issues Forum (GIF) was aimed at strengthening and enhancing civic participation, women's involvement and public accountability in local governance through dialoguing between citizens and public officials.

The Head of Training and Interface Unit of IDEG, Dr Leo Tlou, explained that Ghana's decentralisation process was initiated with the aim of fostering popular participation in governance, especially at the local level.

She said however, that, there was a persisting perception of lack of ownership, which had been attributed to the low level of participation of the civil society in the planning and the implementation process of national policies.

Dr Tlou explained that, it was against that background that IDEG initiated the GIF programme in 2004, which encompassed a number of strategies including public deliberation and skill training around the country.

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"The GIF primarily is a mechanism to institutionalise policy dialogue at the local level and to decentralise decision-making process while promoting social responsive policy-making and public accountability," she said.

She stated that the first phase of the GIF programme was held in 2005 and 2006 and involved 26 districts in seven of the 10 regions in the country.

She indicated that the dialogue brought citizens and their local authorities together to build a consensus on the allocation of district resources and issues of priority such as youth employment and basic social delivery.

Dr Tlou however, explained that weak institutional framework and lack of effective monitoring and evaluation resulted in the inability of GIF networks to effectively track and monitor the progress of the district programmes.

Dr Tlou said to rectify the problem, the focus of 2007 GIF programme was to strengthen the GIF networks in the districts in order for them to effectively evaluate and control the implementation process of strategies aimed at meeting district priorities and subsequently provide adequate feedback to the districts assemblies.

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She indicated that GIF, since its inception had chalked some successes, including the improvement of relations between state and non-state actors, the empowerment of citizens to proactively engage in the policy making process and the decision of some GIF network members to contest district assembly elections, among others.

Participants identified their major priority needs as education, health, water and sanitation and agriculture and promised to work towards achieving those priorities.

The forum was under the theme; "Citizens' Dialogue with District Officials - Strengthening Civic Participation, Gender Mainstreaming and Public Accountability in Local Governance". Similar fora would be organised for the people of Bawku West District and Bawku Municipality. 13 Nov. 07

Source: GNA