Mobilising rural resources for development: the case of Ahafo Ano District

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Local Government has undergone a series of changes in the country and it is to find, a system of local administration that would be efficient and viable that the Local Government Act of 1971 was enacted. According to the Act, there will be only one unit of local administration to every administrative district. The units are therefore larger in terms of population, area, economic resources thus increasing the economic base ad prospects of stability. Local Government in this sense should be regarded as a means not only to political, but also to economic development. Local Governments need not provide such basic infrastructure facilities such as streets, bridges, water supply and sewage disposal systems, markets, transportation and other utility services but also such social facilities as schools, housing, hospitals, and recreational centres. If the overgrowth of our cities and towns is to be avoided, there is an immediate need also for the same kind of community facilities in our rural areas where as a matter of national and regional policy, people may be provided with employment opportunities, housing, education, recreation and other necessities for healthy existence. From this, it can be assumed that local government must be efficient because it must be capable of managing the local services in a way which will help raise the standard of living of the local people. It is said to be local because the system of government is close to the local people and their problems. it is democratic because it must not only find a place for the growing class of educated men but at the same time command the respect and support of the mass of the people. It is therefore easier for the local government than the national government to be closer to the people. It is therefore the responsibility of the local government council for the conduct of such services in the widest sense and works for the general improvement of the locality. After this cursory look at the local governments a similar examination shall be done to planning and local government in this country. Planning has been given different interpretations by planners of all times, and as a result of this there is no clear cut definition of planning. But before any meaningful approach could be made on this topic a survey of the various approaches that this country has made towards her development programmes would be made so that a way could be found s to how the rural community resources through an effective local government set up could be mobilised for development purpose. According to Friedman., “Planning is primarily a way of thinking about social and economic problems, planning is oriented predominantly towards the future, is deeply concerned with the relation of goals to collective decisions and strives for comprehensiveness in policy and programs. Whenever these modes of thoughts are applied there is the presumption that planning is being done.”1 A careful study of all development programmes in this country will reveal that they all have the welfare of the society in mind since they ail aim at solving socio-economic problems facing the country. It can therefore be safely assumed that planning started in this country during the colonial era, but comprehensive planning started with African governments of pre and post independence eras. In spite of the many development plans drawn by the various governments of this country, it was during the 1967-69 Development Plan of the National Liberation Council that the idea of Regional Development was proposed in the content with the setting up of Regional Development Commission. As a result of the adoption of the same methods of planning by the various governments of this country, there has been agglomeration of industries in this country at such centres as Accra/Tema Metropolitan area, Kumasi, Sekondi/Takoradi, to the neglect of the rural areas. The local communities realising this disparity in the development process lean heavily on the various district councils for the provision of amenities like public places of convenience, schools, health centres etc., and these councils heavily depend on the central government funds for the provision of such amenities. It seems to me that with proper education and organization the councils could perform such duties without necessarily leaning heavily on the central government for assistance. Local participation in development planning is not a new phenomenon in this country. It is through this that the concept of iNnoboaII2 evolved. Under this concept, people agree to work for each other in rotation. This could be done in such areas as: land clearing ‘for farming purposes, building a house, harvesting and. carting of farm products. This method could easily be adopted for rural development instead of it being individual oriented. Rural development in this sense does not mean economic development alone but all that go to make lire worth living in the rural area. It is development from the “grass roots.” It rests on the assumption that individuals living in a community wish to come to terms with their environment and needs by raising their standard of living. The success of such development depends on the initiative of the local people, on their desire to improve the conditions of life in the area, and on the presence of leadership capable of facilitating improvement. Some of the pressing problems facing the rural people are feeder roads, transportation, good drinking water, rural electrification, rural industries, credit facilities and housing. Self-help programmes are in most cases organised in rural areas through communal labour, harvests, voluntary contributions etc., under the auspices of the various town and village development committees or associations in and outside of the community to solve some of these problems of the rural dwellers. From the foregoing, it would be seen that the concept of rural development is nothing new in this country, and the role of the District Councils in rural development should not be under-estimated since it is through them that the impact of the government would be felt at the grassroots level. It is for this reason that Mills Odoi, in his report suggested that:”in addition to the geographical decentralization through the Regional and District Authorities, the ministries should be relieved as far as possible, of the management of programmes and that management should be located as near as possible to the site of operation. Of late, community development programmes have been unplanned and haphazard in this country, more especially, in the rural areas. In the early 1950zs, the building of community centres, plazas, and roundabouts was the order of the day. It was not uncommon to see many guinea worm infested areas building palaces for their chiefs, police stations, plazas, etc., instead of sinking wells from which relatively good source of drinking water could be obtained. The upshot of this unguided planning in the rural areas is the over reliance of the rural communities on the government for the provision of the pressing amenities which could have been provided from the local resources given proper direction and assistance-
A thesis submitted to the Board of Postgraduate Studies, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of the Degree of Master of Science in Regional Planning, 1982