Community participation in rural development project planning: a case study of NGO assisted projects in Techiman District

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The ultimate aim of development strategies is human progress in terms of better living standards. With this orientation most third world governments, including Ghana have been stressing on the need for improving the living conditions of the majority of the rural people. However, given the limited resources at their deposal, these governments have not been able to provide all the welfare needs of the rural people. This has necessitated the adoption of community participation which encourages and emphasizes on development through the people’s own efforts, initiatives and utilization of locally available resources. In Ghana, the rural communities, now conscious of the need to be self-reliant, are seeing to the initiation, planning, financing and implementation of development programmes with the assistance from various development agencies. NGOs are some of these agencies. In Techiman District for example there are quite a number of NGO assisted projects. In an attempt to assess the communities’ participation in these projects, several development agencies were consulted. Using a set of criteria such as leadership and organisation in the settlements; institutional framework for decision-making the assistance advanced by the NGOs and the relevance of the projects to the people’s needs, the involvement of the people in various stages of the projects was appraised. This was carried out through case studies of some NGO assisted projects. The study’s major findings included: (a) Communities’ participation was highest during the implementation stage of project. (b) Their participation, to some extent was as a result of the degree of interaction between the NGOs and. the communities and. also the relevance of the project to the people’s needs. (c) Education, consultation and. dialogue between the communities and NGOs was low, especially with the Church Organisations. (d) Development efforts (especially with the Church Organisations) were concentrated on social facilities like water and. clinics among others. (e) Coordination of activities among the NGOs and other development agencies was poor leading to over concentration of me facilities in some areas. (f) The commonest mode of identifying problems and making decisions was by consensus. (g) There was no effective monitoring and. evaluation of the projects. (h) The design and costings4aeaof the project were too agency based. (i) There was lack of proper coordination between the community leaders, the District Council, the District Planning Office and the NGOs. In the light of the foregoing findings, the following recommendations were made: — (a) AU development activities should be voted through the local development committees to the Development Planning and Budgeting Unit (DPBU) and. eventually to the District Assembly for coordinative purposes. The Unit and Area Development Committees will be responsible. (b) The NGOs should as much as possible be invited in local development meetings so as to give technical advice. (a) The NGO& in conjunction with the Department of Community Development should organize purposive educational campaigns in the villages. (a.) Local newspapers highlighting on local development issues should be established. (e) Equal attention should be given to direct productive, income — generating projects so as to make development more sustainable. (f) NGOs should organise maintenance and management training courses for the local people, wherever they are undertaking projects. (g) The villages should be encouraged to establish ‘self-help Development Funds’. (h) There should be continuous monitoring and. evaluation by both the project management committees and the technical team of the NGOs. Quarterly progress reports should then be sent to the DPBU for coordination purposes. (i) Regarding mode of decision - making, discussion groups in community meetings should be formed so as to exhaustively deliberate over the issues raised before final decisions are made. The study concluded that for rural development planning to lead to improved living conditions of the rural people then their (people’s) participation should be given high esteem. The NGOs should also be encouraged to play a greater role in rural development planning efforts and be provided with institutional linkage that facilitates their contribution to the task of improving the status and welfare of the rural people. The extent to which NGO activities have contributed to improved living standards of the rural poor needs further investigation.
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 Development Planning and Management, 1989