They, however, expressed worry about the inadequate capacity among local assembly officials to maximise the potential of local-based radio stations as effective platforms for information dissemination and citizens’ engagement.

These came to light at a stakeholder evaluation meeting on “Promoting Information Disclosure and Citizens’ Participation in Local Governance Processes” organised by the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) in Tamale.

The meeting brought together chief executive officers, public relations officers, information officers and district co-ordinating directors, radio stations and some community-based organisations to reflect on ways local assemblies can improve their engagement with citizens in the local governance processes.

It formed part of activities under the MFWA’s project, dubbed “Promoting Participatory and Accountable Local Governance Through Professional Media and Community Dialogues in Northern Ghana,” implemented with funding support from the Canadian High Commission in Ghana.

The project built the capacity of three radio stations in three districts in the Northern Region to create radio platforms that facilitated regular engagements between local assembly authorities and citizens. Besides, about 40 programmes termed “Time with the Assembly” have been produced on the selected radio stations.

Similarly, the “State of the District” radio broadcasts have featured District Chief Executives on air to discuss how their respective districts have fared over a period, the gaps identified and way forward. They also responded to questions from citizens via phone-ins and WhatsApp. Additionally, community forums were organised to augment the radio programmes with local assembly officials interacting face-to-face with community members on development concerns.

Participants at the stakeholder evaluation meeting noted that the regular platforms created on local-based radio stations helped to educate the public on the work of the assembly, the budget cycle, sources of funding and expenditure, medium term development plan, among others.

“The local governance radio programmes help to gauge community concerns and consider the necessary options for addressing them; people now appreciate us better,” Mustapha Ahmed, PRO for Savelugu-Nanton Municipal Assembly, stated.

District Coordinating Director of West Mamprusi, Andrews Mensah, said, “The concept is very good. It helped to clear misconceptions about the assembly; Our people now have a better understanding of assembly’s budget cycle; issues of project roll over and financial management within the Assembly. The DCE himself participated in the state of the district radio broadcast and that was good for the people,”

The MFWA’s Programme Manager for Media, Democracy and Development, Abigail Larbi Odei, said the objective of the intervention was for citizens to have increased platforms to hear more often from local assembly officials on what is going in their localities, ask questions about local developments and get the assembly officials to respond and be more accountable to the people of their stewardship.

Ms Odei added, “It is refreshing that we are beginning to see the usefulness of these governance dialogue platforms as evidenced in the feedback from radio stations, local assemblies and stakeholders at this evaluation meeting and hope that such platforms would be sustained.”

Source: Public Agenda


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