Managing community participation for District development: a case study of selected settlements in Krachi District, Ghana

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Development concepts and theories have shifted their emphasis from the ‘top down’ approach, based on ‘growth with modernization’ of 1960s, to the grass roots approach. The concept of development at grass roots as a vehicle for nation building necessitates effective decentralization of political and technical decision making and effective community participation as an integral part of development decision making. Equal distribution of benefits of growth between rural and urban sectors can be achieved through participation of the community in the development process and effective utilization of local resources. The need for community participation in nation building is stressed especially when there is a scarcity of development resources. In Ghana, the government has created a favorable situation for the participation of the communities in their own and national development by decentralizing of political and technical decision making to local and district levels, so that the local communities organize themselves, discuss and decide, plan, implement and manage matters that affect their well-beings However, most of the communities are not participating in the development process. The local organizations which should have played such a mobilization role are not well organized. On t he contrary, there are some settlements which have mobilizes and utilized their human and other resources to better their situation and addressed some of their problems by their own effort. The objective of this study, therefore, is to investigate the factors contributing to such contrasting situations. The study will also attempt to identify the methods employed to manage participatory processes, and to identify the problems, constraints and potentials in the process of community participation. The data for the study were obtained from four case study settlements in the Krachi district of Ghana. The survey is backed up by in-depth interviews of the local and district level leaders. The study revealed that communities with more homogenous characters can easily organize, mobilize and utilize their human resources than settlements that are heterogenous. It was also found that community initiated projects have a higher more success rate than those fully or partially initiated (identified) by government and other institutions. In homogenous settlements the ‘faith in leaders’ by non-leaders was higher. The study also revealed the problems, constraints and potentials of community participation in the development planning process. Some of the problems identified by the study are lack of financial capacity, poor organization for work; apathy, misunderstanding and disunity among members as well as poor motivation for communal work. The study outlined proposals for managing and sustaining community participation at community and district levels. These include: the creation of a permanent Community development forum as a starting point for discussion of community development matters and deliberation of an action plan which shows the list of self help projects and those projects demanding external support. The other proposals at community level are improving financial capacity, motivation of the community and increasing the efficiency of working time. At district level, establishing and strengthening a district planning unit to coordinate and integrate the activities of different development agents at district level and to harmonize the district capacity with communities demand was proposed. Provision of external support in the form of incentives, cost-sharing, or award is also been suggested. The study concludes that organization of the community, guidance and assistance from above’ and use of appropriate management practices would make the participation of the district population in development activities sustainable.
A thesis submitted to the Board of Postgraduate Studies, University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, in partial fulfillment of the degree of Master Science in Development Planning and Management,1995.