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Enhancing Grassroots Civic Participation in Governance Using New Digital Tools

Six successive and peaceful general elections since 1992 has garnered for Ghana an accolade as a beacon of democracy in West Africa. However, while the country has been lauded for electoral success in times past, there are challenges with participatory, transparent and accountable governance which have accounted for poor public service delivery.

 

Transparency and accountability have always been key requirements for any successful democratic country. But, in many African countries, this requirement is often unsatisfactory or abused for various reasons. In Ghana, citizens’ participation in the formulation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of government policies and programs remains generally weak due either to less attention to mobilizing citizens for this end or the lack of requisite knowledge and skills of citizens. Lack of citizens’ participation therefore constitutes a major gap in the governance process. These factors have remained a major hindrance to citizens’ engagement in the development process.

 

Several key questions thus remain unanswered. Are citizens well informed on issues of accountability? Do citizens have access to the required information to hold public officials accountable? To what extent can the media, civil society organizations (CSOs) and other watchdog institutions play an effective role in ensuring revenues and resources assigned for development are used for their intended purposes especially at the grassroots level. 

 

Through the “Enhancing Grassroots Civic Participation in Governance Using New Digital Tools”project, Penplusbytes with support from the Canadian Fund for Local Initiatives intends to take full advantage of both online and offline platforms to reverse the exclusion of citizens in the governance process by adopting an inclusive and integrated approach that will enable citizens’ participation in the governance process. 

 

The project will take advantage of the proliferation of affordable ICT tools in Ghana and explore the myriad of new opportunities it offers to empower citizens in the quest for more transparency and accountability from government.

 

The overall project objective is to empower citizens through digital tools to effectively participate in the local government decision making processes and promote better public service delivery especially in health and education.

 

This overall objective will be achievedby utilising innovative and integrative mechanisms to close the existing interface and institutional capacity gaps by transforming the relationship between state and non-state actors at the local level.  The project will aim to creating awareness amongst citizens on allocated budgets and development plans for the selected community through easy access to information, engaging public officials in ensuring health and education services are provided as budgeted for and finally enhance the capacity of the media to play effective watchdog role in the promotion of governance and accountability at the local level.

It is expected that at the completion of the project, civic engagement in local governance processes improved, duty bearers and public officials will be more responsive to citizens’ needs and design policies and programmes that will address citizens specific concerns and the media playing an effective oversight role in holding duty bearers account in public service delivery. 

 

DONOR: Canadian Fund For Local Initiatives

 

 

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