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Regional News of Monday, 26 March 2012

Source: GNA

New grassroots governance programme takes off in Abura-Dunkwa

African Elections Project (AEP) in collaboration with the Institute of Local Government Studies (ILGS) over the weekend launched a new grassroots governance programme at Abura-Dunkwa in Abura Asebu Kwamankese District (AAKD) in the Central Region.

It is also being implemented on pilot basis at Kassena Nankena East District in the Upper East Region.

The launching was attended by assembly members, community members, opinion leaders, community based organisations and stakeholders in health and education from the two selected districts for the project.

The "Enabling Governance and Economic Transparency in Ghana Using New Media" project is being financed by African Technology Transparency Initiative (ATTI).

It is aimed at promoting transparency and accountability at the community level in Ghana and focusing on local government, health, education and budgets.

The project aims to use web enabled tools, community radio, and in the peculiar case of AAKD, it is partnering a local communication centre; "Best Announcement Centre" and Short Message Service (SMS) to track 22 health and education indicators.

This would bring about greater governance and economic transparency at the community level within the framework of accountability in public spending.

It also serves as a public oversight system, set up to combine SMS, community workshops, emails, website and leveraging community radio phone-in programmes to register, publicise and track public expenditure in health and education at the community level.

Mr Jerry Sam, Project Manager of the African Elections Project, in address said the project which is on the theme: "Ensuring Transparency and Accountability at the Grassroots Level" seeks to encourage the participation of community members in health and education expenditure at the district levels, with the ultimate goal of ensuring economic transparency and accountability.

“Key expected outcome of the project is the judicious expenditure of health and education budgets leading to practical dividends for the community measured by accelerated rate of development at the grassroots level."

Mr Napolean Nsarkoah, Assembly Member for Abura Dunkwa, was thankful that the area has being selected as one of the pilot districts for the project.

He hoped that the project would impact positively on the lives of community dwellers through the provision of health and education infrastructure, adding, "For some time now, the district has been battling with poor results in education and seven schools scored zero in the recent BECE results.

“I hope this laudable project with its new media capabilities will help bring the needed attention to the area and help solve basic problems facing the district."

Madam Agnes A. Akwulpwa, Assemblywoman for Manyoro Electoral Area in Kassena Nankena East District Assembly, expressed appreciation for the project.

She said work on a six-classroom block has begun in the district due to the persistence of the community dwellers who as a result of the project had become aware of the assembly's developmental plans in health and education through SMS messages and ensuring that the assembly delivered on it.

“I hope this project will be undertaken on long term basis since it is creating awareness in the community and getting all and sundry involved in transparency and accountability.”

Okyeame Kojo Abiriw, an Opinion Leader at Tuakwa in the district, said, "Until the project began, I did not know the activities of the assembly, their plans and budget for our community, now the SMS I receive from the project keeps me abreast of developments in the area and the call-in programmes on Yes FM gives me the opportunity to add my voice to the development of my district.”**

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