The relevance of district planning in conflict management in Ghana-a study of Bawku East District Assembly of the Upper East Region

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The current paradigm of decentralized governance in Ghana is aimed at spreading development at the Districts to address the needs of local citizens. Such intension is however marred by violent and deep-rooted conflicts such as the case of Bawku East District. This has had adverse effects on the development of the area. In order to address the problem the District Assembly, in collaboration with Nongovernmental Organizations (NGOs) and the security agencies, in 2001, put in measures to mediate the conflict and to guard against further violence. Conflict however has not stopped owing to the following reasons: the conflict is well rooted in the district and it has not been properly managed through conscious planning. The study in this light, set out to find out whether the Assembly viewed as the planning authority, uses that function at its disposal in conflict management. The methodology adopted for the research was case study. Both purposive and random sampling techniques were used to select institutions and respondents for the interview. Interview schedules were administered to household respondents for the collection of data on root causes of the conflict, impact on the residents and current perception about the conflict. Chiefs, assembly members and other key informants were also interviewed. Institutional based interview were conducted among heads of institutions about the impact of the conflict on their output, identification of conflict signals and appropriate ways of managing the conflict. Interviews were also conducted with Assembly staff on the implications of the conflict for the planning process. The study revealed that all the conflicts fought were between the Mamprusis and the Kusasis. The root cause of it is chieftaincy in which both groups claim legitimacy to the skin. Party politics and land disputes were often used as the conflict accelerators. On the part of the socio-economic effects of the conflict, many human lives were lost and property destroyed, more persons displaced and parties to the conflict set apart. Many staff left the district which affected the efficient performance of a number of departments/institutions and organizations. The 2002-2004 Medium Term Development Plan (MTDP) was only 40% implemented and annual plans for the same period were also adversely affected. The dynamics of the conflict also indicate that the factions have maintained their previous positions that ignited the conflicts. The Assembly has never prepared any conflict management plan to address both pre-conflict and post-conflict situations. Rather the security agencies have taken control over the management of the conflicts through peace keeping and enforcement. Signals that in the past have triggered conflicts in the area are still prevalent and some are already looming. Strategic plan design and institutional arrangement are vital to conflict monitoring and management. But this is absent in the district. Following from the findings, the study concludes that a collaborative approach was a better option for conflict management between the feuding factions. This effort according to the study will be enhanced by designing conflict management plans, strengthening the capacity of the District Planning and Coordinating Unit (DPCU) on conflict management, monitoring and evaluation of conflicts, adoption of decentralized institutional arrangement for conflict monitoring and capitalization of conflict sensitive planned programmes. Such processes are ‘sine qua non’ to sustainable and holistic conflict management in Bawku East District.
A Thesis submitted to the School of Graduate Studies Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi in Partial fulfillment of the requirement for the degree of Master of Science in Development Policy and Planning, 2005