Transparency and accountability are key requirements for any successful democratic country. However, while duty bearers show little or no commitment to making available means for citizens to scrutinize their use and management of public money, procedures and structures for the engagement of the citizenry in the monitoring and evaluation of development interventions seldom exist. The lack of proper understanding of development plans, budgets and the financial management systems of governmental structures has led to the absence of the engagement of the citizenry, especially at the local level. The lack of participation form the citizenry has limited the promotion of effective, responsive and responsible governance, and effective public service delivery at the local level especially; ingredients that are imperative for poverty reduction and wealth creation.
It is against this background that Penplusbytes, with support from Making All Voices Count (MAVC), is rolling out the “Grassroots Open Government Using New Digital Tools” project. The project, with the use of a collaborative and an integrated approach is intended to enhance communication and information sharing between citizens and the local government in the Tamale Metropolitan Assembly in the Northern Region and the Ada East District Assembly in the Greater Accra Region.
The project focuses in the area of public service delivery with particular emphasis on Health, Education and Sanitation sectors, and modelled on the concept of “demand and supply”.
In terms of Demand, the project seeks to bridge the following gaps:
The Supply aspect of the project seeks to find solution to this:
The overall goal of this project is to overcome the challenges and problems affecting a citizen’s ability to hold public officials accountable on how the public purse is utilized for the benefit of the people. The objectives of this project are as follows:
The project will create and make available a space and provide easy to use tools to enable citizens monitor and access government information, policy analysis, development plans, budgets appropriations, as well as implementation processes at the local government level. Thus, the project seeks to bridge the gap between citizens and the government, and also equip the citizenry with information they can use to hold government and their representatives accountable for development projects and budget appropriations.
The project also offers the concerned local government authorities the space and means to provide timely information through a clear communication pattern between government and citizens. Thus boosting the tools made available for effective and timely communication between governments and citizens.
The use of various forms of ICTs, especially mobile phones have become so commonplace in most communities in Ghana that leveraging its use to promote open government and accountability is easier now than ever before. In view of this, Penplusbytes will make use of an integrated set of tested tools namely: an interactive online platform integrated with Mobile app, SMS; traditional media, and an information and knowledge management tool. This will leverage an existing tool, ABAN, developed by Penplusbytes to enhance interaction between citizens and government. This will allow the citizenry to participate in the monitoring of the development plans and budget appropriations of the Tamale Metropolitan Assembly and Ada East District Assembly.
It is expected that, “Grassroots Open Government Using New Digital Tools” will ensure citizens have a voice in how resources allocated for development are prudently utilised to eradicate poverty and stimulate wealth creation using both new digital tools and face-to-face interventions such as public forums and community radio broadcast.