An assessment of decentralisation as a strategy for rural development in Ghana: a case of Ahanta West District

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May, 2015
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Rural development has been vigorously pursued in Ghana since the colonial era. In this contemporary era, decentralisation has been adopted to promote development in the rural areas. Authority and resources have been devolved from the central government to Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) which are sub government structures created in 1988. By virtue of their geographical proximity to the grassroots, it was envisaged that these sub-government structures would better understand and respond to the developmental concerns of the local people. Using the Ahanta West District as a case study, this study explores the extent to which the decentralization programme has been an effective rural development strategy. Secondary data comprised of previous researches and reports. Primary data was collected through questionnaire survey administered to 200 household heads selected by cluster sampling. Data was also collected through face-to-face interviews with six chiefs, six Assembly members, six Unit Committee members and eight officials of the District Assembly. The survey data was analyzed using the Predictive Analytics Software (PASW) whilst the interview data was analysed based on themes developed for the research. The study revealed that, apart from the provision of basic schools, the contribution of the District Assembly has been woefully inadequate to tackle the myriad of concerns in the settlements. The expectations of basic infrastructure, employment opportunities and improved living conditions have largely not materialized. Decentralisation has also failed to tackle chieftaincy disputes, disunity, apathy and rural outmigration. Major constraints to service delivery are inadequate logistics and funding arising from erratic release of the Common Fund and lack of local revenue base. Another obstacle to progress is the politicization of the programme although it is said to be apolitical The research contends that policy makers need to have a rethink of the implementation of decentralisation. Enhancing revenue generation through private-public partnerships and District Assembly levies, depoliticisation of the programme through the election of the District Chief Executive; as well as massive sensitization on the concept would go a long way to improve the performance of the District Assemblies.
A thesis submitted to the School of Graduate Studies, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Philosophy in Development Studies,