Decentralisation and the Politics of Participation: A Case of Project Planning and Implementation in Asutifi District

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Decentralization is globally recognised as the way of ensuring community participation and local development. Many countries in the world have adopted decentralisation and implemented the concept in different ways. Some of these countries have succeeded, some are getting success, despite the slow pace and others have failed. Mostly in the developing world, countries claim to have been decentralized but it is still normal to see some practices of centralization. The success or otherwise of decentralization is therefore said to be dependent on the notion of development, the level of decentralization, central government attitude towards the local units and the degree to which the practice is allowed to continuously evolve itself. In Ghana, decentralization has been practiced since 1988 and the populace have come to embrace it as the best way to ensuring development and local participation in governance. Although, decentralization in Ghana is aimed at devolving central administrative authority to the district level, the study revealed that, there are still challenges to the successful implementation of the concept. The study adopted a case study approach focusing on the Asutifi District so as to enable a clear understanding of how participation influences project planning and implementation in Ghana. Dependent and independent variables such as Institutional arrangements, planning capacities and planning processes were critically reviewed. Another key aspect of the approach is the reliance on random sampling approaches based on mathematical calculations that ensured a fair distribution of the units of enquiry. This study which was focused on the Asutifi District identified challenges such as non-functioning local government structures, inadequate staff and inadequate logistics among others. A number of Area councils are not functioning and do not have office buildings. The District Assembly does not have enough staff who can be used to build capacity and implement participatory methodologies at the community level. The District also has no enough transport facilities to ease the movement of technical staff to lower levels like area councils and unit committees for either supervision or capacity building. The study also found out that there is a high level of polarisation in the district on matters of policy and development interventions. People’s political affiliations played useful roles in the decisions they made on public issues. The inhabitants of the district are sharply divided into supporters of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the New Patriotic Party (NPP). It is recommended among others that the decentralised bodies should be strengthened and capacitated to undertake lower level responsibilities based on the principle of subsidiarity. Again, the DPCU should be strengthened and provided the needed logistics to carry out their responsibilities effectively. Awareness should also be created among Inhabitants to appreciate the relevance of public policy for communal development and their general welfare to help deal with the usual partisan parochial considerations they attach to such issues. These among others are deemed essential for promoting participation in the governance of development in the Asutifi District.
A Thesis Submitted To the School Of Graduate Studies, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Partial Fulfilment of the Requirements for the Degree Of Master of Science in Regional Development Planning and Management.