Information systems in district development planning: a case study of Yilo Krobo District, Ghana

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An information system basically joins two nodes, data generators and information users. Information is a vital resource in development planning, as it is fundamental to effective decision-making. An information system is, therefore, needed in order to provide the information required in a timely and cost-efficient way. The Republic of Ghana has made significant efforts towards the decentralisation of decision-making and development planning to the district level at which the District Assemblies play a pivotal role. However, these District Assemblies have faced serious challenges in development planning and one such challenge has been the inadequacy of appropriate data/information for this endeavour. On the basis of this problem, this study was undertaken mainly to identify the nature of data inadequacy at the various levels of the planning process and bottlenecks contributing to this state of affairs on which basis appropriate strategies would be made to both Local and Central Governments for necessary interventions. In order to accomplish this, Yilo Krobo District was selected as the case district mainly because it was the study district for the current SPRING Batch of students (2000/2001) in Development Workshop. Data was collected from both primary and secondary sources. For primary data collection, samples of various institutions were taken using purposive sampling, a non- probability sampling technique. These were the District Executive Committee members of the District Assembly, The District Coordinating Director, the District Planning Officer, the District Budget Officer from the District Assembly Administration and the heads of twelve government departments now operating (or required to operate) under the District Assembly. Though the Area Councils were not interviewed at the time of the survey, information was collected during the SPRING workshop survey on institutional capacity building in the same district. During this survey, all Area Councils were interviewed and some of the information collected was related to this research and was therefore referred to during the analysis. The primary data were collected using researcher-administered questionnaires with both structured and unstructured questions. The secondary data were collected through literature search. The data were measured at ordinal and nominal scales. After the primary data collection exercise, the raw data were processed into percentages and ranks. This formed the basis for discussion and interpretation of survey findings. Based on the methodology outlined, a number of observations were made and are presented as a summary of findings. There is a general problem of insufficient data/information at all stages of the planning process. This is more serious at the implementation management stage where there is complete lack of data/information for providing feedback on progress in implementation. The analysis revealed some critical problems that have contributed to this problem of insufficient data/information for district planning in Yilo Krobo. Specifically there is poor data collection, data processing, and Information management, and information dissemination methods. Additionally, there is low level of participation of stakeholders coupled with poor coordination of information subsystems in the planning process. The following recommendations or proposals have been made to improve the existing information system for district planning in Yilo Krobo: • Institutionalisation of data collection to make it more cost effective • Harmonising geographical or spatial reference units for data collection • Decentralisation of data processing to the district level • Adopting systematic filing systems that keep information in a comprehensive manner • Information contained in the district plans should be used to guide all development efforts in the district • Communication of information between the DPCU and the District Assembly members should be made more user friendly by using appropriate presentation methods such as maps and charts. • Departments should adopt logical frameworks as a tool for sectoral planning. • The District Assembly should create a DDCC to improve the participation and coordination of development agencies and thereby improving information flows.
A Thesis submitted to the School of Graduate Studies, University of Science and Technology, Kumasi in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Degree of Master of Science in Development Planning and Management, 2001