Project To Strengthen Accountability At District Levels Launched

A project intended to strengthen accountability at community and district levels in Ghana has been launched in Wa by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Ghana's Strengthening Accountability Mechanism (GSAM) seeks to strengthen citizens to exercise oversight responsibilities in capital development projects to improve local government transparency, accountability and performance. It is a five-year project being funded by the USAID, estimated to cost $10 million and is being implemented in 100 selected districts across the 10 regions of Ghana. In the Upper West Region, the project is being implemented in six districts, namely Lawra, Sissala East, Sissala West, Wa East, Wa West and Nadowli-Kaleo, by IBIS Ghana, a Danish development organisation. IBIS is also in charge of the project in the Upper West, Upper East, Northern and Volta regions. Bridging information gap GSAM, which started in 2014, empowers civil society organisations (CSOs) and communities to participate in the governance process by monitoring and disseminating information on the capital development projects of relevant district assemblies to citizens, to enable the people hold their local authorities accountable and demand improved service delivery. Primarily, it is designed to help bridge the information and accountability gaps at the local level by increasing information flow to citizens on the planning and execution of capital development projects, and creating avenues for citizens and CSOs to monitor, engage and provide feedback on the performance of district assemblies, particularly on capital projects. Launching the project, the Minister for Upper West Region, Alhaji Amin Amidu Sulemani, expressed the hope that the launch of the GSAM project would "mark a new dawn in which citizens and the civil society will rekindle their participation towards ensuring accountability from duty bearers across the district assemblies". He said, "Notwithstanding the remarkable successes recorded in Ghana's democratisation and decentralisation processes in recent years, citizens' involvement in the transparency and accountability processes has not been satisfactory. Improving accountability "The implementation of the GSAM project best illustrates the need for improving accountability and transparency in the governance process," he added. He said sharing of information would help dispel the perception that capital projects were mere conduits for technocrats and politicians to enrich themselves. He appealed to the sponsors of the project and the supervising consortium to extend the facility to the five remaining districts in the Upper West Region. The Country Director of IBIS, Mr Tijani Ahmed Hamza, said the project "is actually in tandem with Pillar 4 of the Ghana Shared Growth and Development Agenda, which outlines support for citizens-based monitoring and evaluation of public policies and programmes". He also said IBIS's involvement in the implementation of the project in the Upper West Region in particular was a confirmation of the international body's commitment to help address basic challenges with regard to good governance, accountability and related issues that would improve lives in the region. The Chief of Party for the GSAM Project, Mr Clement Tandoh, said through the project, communities would own capital projects at the community and district levels.