Strengthening community capacity in the provision and sustenance of social infrastructure and services: a study of the EC micro-project approach in the Nkoranza District of Ghana

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Available literature on the existing infrastructure and social services delivery situation in Sub-Saharan Africa show that apart from the age old problem of unbalanced distribution between the urban and rural areas, there is a widening gap between demand for and the supply of these basic social services. In the predicament, the rural areas are the worst affected. The growing inability of governments in Sub-Saharan Africa to meet these basic social services needs is one reason for the search for alternative strategies including donor assistance to support participatory community based self-help initiatives. These alternative approaches are not without problems. The issue of whether the communities have the requisite capacities to undertake such initiatives, and if they do not, whether conscious efforts are being made to build their capacities to accomplish the tasks expected of them in this self-help approach are only two of such problems under investigation in this study. These two interrelated issues which constitute the problem of this study are examined in the context of the on-going decentralization programme in Ghana using the EC approach to community capacity strengthening in the Nkoranza district as a case study. The key concept, “Community Capacity” was evolved through a review of existing literature which revealed that existing Views on what constitutes community capacity is often limited to what is perceived the missing component in the existing Community. This narrow view point does not well articulate the issue of community capacity strengthening. A framework for analysing community capacity was proposed and accompanying indicators to measure the capacity components defined. Based on data collected through field work and secondary sources, the EC approach to community capacity strengthening in the Nkoranza District was evaluated in the context of the ongoing decentralization programme using these component indicators. The evaluation revealed that the EC institutional structures put in place to assist communities initiate, plan, implement and manage their own development run parallel to the national institutional structures put in place to achieve the goal(s) and objectives of decentrati2ation. The district community is not sufficiently involved in the planning of the district MPP as a result of the rather heavy reliance on outside consultants. These coupled with the weak financial base of the community projects and the low level of skilled personnel render the MPP approach as a district strategy for meeting the basic social services needs of the people on a sustainable basis vulnerable. The major recommendations are that the EC institutional structures will need to be realigned with the existing national structures to ensure full community participation and continuity. With regards to the financial aspects, it is recommended that efforts be made to integrate the EC projects into the overall community development initiatives to maximise the benefits accruing from the financial linkages with other income generating projects. it is also suggested that the income generating micro projects package should be linked with non income-generating projects Finally, it is recommended that efforts be made to implement the communities expressed training needs.
A thesis submitted to the board of postgraduate studies, university of science and technology, kumasi, in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of master of science in development planning and management, 1994