Local organizations in development governance at the District level: a Case Study of Local Organizations in the Bosomtwe Atwima Kwanwoma District

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The potential of local people and their organizations for the promotion of meaningful development in terms of planning and managing their resources has gained increased attention of policy makers and political leaders in the developing world. In Ghana, this has been manifested by the change from Centralized to Decentralized systems of government and the establishment of District Assemblies which should effectively link with other autonomous bodies in the district to ensure effective output. This study was therefore undertaken in order to investigate the role played by local organizations in managing the development process of their district and their effectiveness to perform that role. To achieve this objective, data were collected from three sets of respondents - the leaders /representatives of local organizations, the Assembly members and some of the personnel of the District Assembly. Simple random sampling technique was used to obtain the samples of Assembly members and the local organizations. Relevant District Assembly staffs in terms of relationships with local organizations were selected. In all, 40 local organizations, 15 Assembly members and 10 Assembly personnel were interviewed and these provided the bulk of the information on which this study is based. The data collection methods employed includes desk research, questionnaire administration and informal discussions. The data were analysed by using simple statistical techniques which include conversion of raw scores into percentages, and calculation of measures of central tendency and variation. The results were presented in tabular and pictorial forms. The results of the analysis revealed the general inactive engagement of local organizations in the development functions of the district which is indicative of their limited influence in decision-making and management of the development process of the district. Further analysis also pointed at the general ineffectiveness of local organizations in the district to perform their governance role. This was evidenced by the absence of effective horizontal and vertical linkages, poor resource mobilization and management capacity, lack of and inability to manage and sustain development initiatives, and limited autonomy of the majority of the organizations due to their initiation or formation by government through the District Assembly. However, the traditional institutions and few other organizations indicate some level of efficiency and effectiveness since they link with other organizations and are well structured and still enjoy their autonomy. They have also initiated development projects which are fully supported by their respective communities. From a general perspective, the local organizations in the district are not effective to make the District Assembly responsive to the needs of the local people and accountable to them which is what decentralization is all about. To address these problems, a number of proposals have been put forward. These include: strengthening and enabling the Assembly members who are expected to channel the views, problems and concerns of the local people to perform their functions effectively. The Assembly members should also link effectively with the Unit Committees which are about to be established in order to improve their touch with the grassroots. It is also recommended that Educational Campaigns be held district-wide with a view to educating the people about their roles in the development of their district. In the area of making local organizations effective to perform their development governance role, a capacity building programme should be established and supported by Non-Governmental Organizations. Inter-organization linkages should also be strengthened through the establishment of an umbrella Association of local organizations in the district which should undertake activities that will promote coordination and collaboration among them. It is expected that the adoption of these proposals will ensure the effective participation of local organizations in the Bosomtwe Atwima Kwanwoma District thus making the District Assembly more productive.
A thesis submitted to the Board of Postgraduate Studies, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, in partial fulfilment of the requirement for the award of the Degree of Master of Science in Development Planning and Management, 1998