News » Interview with an Assembly Member on Governance at the Grassroots

09 October

The Assembly Man for Kongwania Electoral Area in the Kassena Nankena East District Assembly, Hon. Patrick K.K. Adatuu believes getting community members involved in the development and implementation of District Assembly projects will lead to transparency and accountability in local governance.
He is of the opinion that, the budgetary allocations to the district will be enough to serve the needs of community members if the assembly prioritise its expenditures.
Below are substantial extracts from an interview he gave to the African Elections Project.

Question (Q):  what are the development needs of the community?

Patrick K.K. Adatuu (A): Shea-nut and tomato processing plants to provide employment opportunities for the youth, feeder roads from the farm areas to the markets which will help reduce post-harvest losses, water and a CHPS Compounds within the community. 

Q: What is the highlight of the development plan?

A: Building of new schools in the assembly and also the distribution of free treated mosquito nets

Q: Does the development plan currently address the development needs of the community?

A: Some needs are being addressed but more needs to be done in the area of healthcare delivery especially the administration of the National Health Insurance Scheme. Even though the scheme covers quite a number of ailments, the health institutions choose and pick which ailment they treat and also provide drugs for.

Q: Are the educational needs of the district being addressed by the development plan?

A: Educational needs such building new schools and resourcing them with qualified teachers are being done. Also, the school feeding programme has been expanded and it has led to an increase in enrollment and retention of school children.  However, more needs to be done to improve on the basic education examination certificate (BECE) results of pupils through the provision of supplementary readers and extra classes.

Q: Are the health needs of the district being addressed by the development plan?

A: More needs to be done to address the health needs of the district. For instance the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) is not working effectively as some ailments are not covered under the scheme and one has to always purchase drugs from pharmacies even though it is supposed to be free under the scheme. The lab at the Navrongo War Memorial Hospital which serves as the main referral hospital is not working. The hospital also needs more doctors to reduce the patient-doctor ratio.

The District Budget

Q: How is the district budget developed?

A: Usually, the budget committee sends request for all area councils to send their area council plans which is used by the assembly when it is doing its budget for the year.  They then pass it on to the Finance and Administration Committee who analyse the whole budget making sure that all the projects in the annual development plan are captured in the budget. The budget then goes to the Executive Committee for due diligence be undertaken on some of the projects.
The General Assembly then meets on it for final discussions and approval.

Q: What component of the budget is IGF and that of central government?

A: The IGF component is small due to the fact that there are not enough private business enterprises in the district for the assembly to tax and generate more funds internally. Most of the districts funds come from the central government.

Q: Is the budgetary allocation sufficient to address the development plan of the community?

A: Not enough but the little that comes in must be utilized properly. The assembly sometimes embarks on projects and activities which usually lead to waste of resources. For example, the assembly purchased three (3) 4x4 cars for some officials in the district who only use it to get to their offices. That money spent could have been used to buy smaller cars and the rest of the money used to purchase tractors for farmers to co-share for the benefit of the whole community.

Community members and local government

Q: How involved is the community in the development and implementation of the district development plan?

A: The community members meet during community development committee meetings and also at area council meetings. At such meetings they (community) come up with their needs that they would want the assembly to cater for them. These needs are documented into what is called "area council development plan" and it is usually sent to the assembly to be added to the assembly’s annual development plan.
For the implementation of the districts’ development plan, community members are informed of the of proposed projects to be undertaken in their locality and they in turn provide advice as to where in their locality such a project should be cited and provide land and labour for that project.  

Q: Is there a law that requires community participation in local governance?

A: Yes, ACT 462 requires that the assembly involves the community members in the decision making process and implementation of programmes.

Q: If you have to improve community participation in the development and implementation of district development plans, what ways would you do this?

A: The assembly should motivate community members to participate more in area council meetings by at least serving them with refreshments and small allowance for their transportation.

Q: Does the district have a website, radio or any other means of communicating with the community members?

A: The district does not have a website; the assembly uses the community radio station called Nabina FM, ISD vans, phone calls and word of mouth to communicate important issues with community members.

Q: Would the use of SMS for information delivery help in disseminating and receiving information to and from community members? What is required to implement this?

A: High illiteracy level in the district will not make this work. For it to work, the mobile numbers of some educated community members who are will to receive messages and translating it to others will have to be sought. 

Q: In what areas of healthcare and education is additional attention required? e.g. additional budgetary allocation?

A: Malaria prevention and treatment, lobby for more health personnel, provide more funding for the NHIS to work effectively.
For education the assembly should continue building more schools and lobby for more quality teachers to help raise the standard of education in the district.  


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