The role of community-based organisations in district development: a case of Kwabre District, Ghana

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In Ghana, the Local Government Act 1993 (Act 462) forms the legal basis of the decentralisation policy. District Assemblies are expected to perform development functions in their areas of jurisdiction. This development function of the District Assembly is further reinforced in the Legislative Instruments (L.I) setting up each of the 110 (one hundred and ten) District Assemblies. A cursory look at the Local Government Act, (Act 462) indicates that much as the responsibility for development lies with the District Assembly, the latter is expected to undertake development programmes in partnership with its sub-structures, civil society, the private sector as well as the local people who are ultimately affected by the development process. Community-Based Organisations as component of larger civil society organisations are wellspring of social capital which society voluntarily organises for a common purpose. They are formed on ethnic, religious, social, economic and gender basis, and serve as potent force for rural or community-based development. Their strength lies in their ability to mobilise people for communal labour and educational programmes. Community-Based Organisations can assist in sustaining the progress of district developmental efforts. There is the need for a strategy to co-ordinate their activities and build their capacities in organisational, managerial, technical, advocacy and networking, if districts are to avoid duplication of efforts which sometimes over task the resources both human and financial in the communities and the unhealthy rivalry that sometimes emerge. it would be useful to have co-ordinating committees within the district Assemblies to co-ordinate plans, programmes, budgets and implementation processes of Community Organisations. If this is properly done, it would be to the mutual advantage of the District Assemblies, the Community Organisations and the communities as well. The study examined the role of CBOs in district development within the context of the on-going decentralisation programme in Ghana. To achieve this objective, data were collected from both primary and secondary sources. Forty CBOs were sampled; twenty Assemblymen were interviewed while District assembly staffs whose tasks involve interacting with C130s were randomly selected for the study. The stratified random sampling technique was used, based on the eleven towns and area councils in the district. Focus group discussions and community meetings were held to solicit information on Community-Based Organisations. One major outcome of the study was the weak networking and collaboration between Community Development Groups in the district, in view of the fact that they embark upon their activities without consulting each other. The scope of the study was a limitation as the researcher was not able to include all the existing Community-based organisations in the District. However, a representative sample of CBOs was taken. The study concludes by recommending a co-ordinating committee between the District Assembly and CBOs in the governance process of development.
A thesis submitted to the School of Graduate Studies, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Master of Science degree in Development Planning and Management, 2001