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Regional News of Wednesday, 8 January 2003

Source: Daily Graphic

Rural communities remain poor – Study

Cape Coast (Central Region) - A study conducted by the Centre for Development Studies (CDS), of the University of Cape Coast (UCC) in four deprived districts in the Western and Central regions, has revealed that the economic conditions of households in the districts have not improved in the past five years.

The study also found that employment opportunities in the areas continue to be limited and unrewarding for members of civil society, with most workers earning less than ?500,000 a month.

A lecturer at the centre, Kenneth Aikins, stated this at a workshop for assembly members and civil society organisations on “Improving Efficiency, Transparency and Accountability of Governance and Resource Management,” at Abura Dunkwa.

Responses were obtained from 420 civil society members, 14 decentralised departments in the Abura-Asebu-Kwamankese (AAK), Komenda-Edina-Eguafo-Abrem (KEEA), Mporhor-Wassa East (MWE) and Nzema Districts. Aikins said that the AAK District, for instance, has an unemployment rate of 94.5 per cent.

He said that the study also found that the decentralised departments in the districts are also faced with the problem of inadequate resources while there is also the lack of collaboration between the district assemblies and civil society organisations in the management of resources.

He pointed out that the district assemblies, as the focus of the country’s decentralisation programme, are expected to be models of efficiency, transparency and accountability of governance and resource management.

In a speech read on his behalf, Isaac Edumadze, Central Regional Minister, said that the introduction of the Rural Development Fund should be seen as an effort by the government to speed up development activities in the rural areas.

He gave the assurance that the government will collaborate with civil society at all times to ensure efficiency, transparency and good governance.

Dr S. B. Kendie, acting Director of CDS said the centre has the role of researching into rural development and helping to empower all stakeholders to play roles more effectively.

He noted that a lot of more monies are getting to the District Assemblies after the decentralisation programme but stated that not much has been allocated to reducing poverty.

He stressed the need for all to ensure accountability and transparency in the use of such monies and improve their living conditions.

The former Vice Chancellor of the UCC, Rev Prof S.K. Adjepong said efficiency, transparency and accountability are pillars of good governance, which must not be allowed to collapse, adding that if these pillars weaken, it opens the doors of corruption.