A project aimed at enhancing grass-roots participation in civic life and governance using new digital tools such as online and offline platforms has started in the district assemblies. This is to help connect residents to their assemblies and to reverse the exclusion of citizens in the local governance process. The project is being sponsored by Penplusbytes, a not-for-profit organisation, with support from the Canadian Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI). Citizens’ engagement The project, titled Citizens Engagement, was recently launched in the Ashaiman Municipal Assembly, (ASHMA) in the Greater Accra Region which was attended by representatives of civil society organisations and the media At the Citizen Engagement forum at Ashaiman, a Senior Development Planning Officer of the assembly, Hajia Khadijah Osman, said the assembly had approved a budget of G ¢22,198,447.20 to promote rapid development of the municipality for the year 2017.that would hinge on citizens’ participation The assembly has also set aside a total amount of GH¢12, 470,443.57 as its investment budget for the year. Out of that amount, the assembly was committing about GH¢1,775,000 (14.3 per cent) of that budget this year to improve education service delivery. Health issues For this year, she said the assembly was also committing GH¢2, 057,864.32 to tackle health issues in the municipality. Hajia Osman enumerated some projects earmarked for the municipality for the year 2017 to improve the lives of the people of the area. She said plans were underway to complete the first floor of male and female wards at the Ashaiman Polyclinic at an estimated cost of GH¢180, 821.25. Again, the assembly intends to build a 20-bed capacity isolation ward at the same health facility also estimated at GH¢800,000.00 Hajia Khadijah added that a CHPS Compound would be constructed at Tulaku while a health post with residential facility would also be constructed at Ashaiman Tsui-bleoo. Education In the area of Education, she said the ASHMA, would this year construct a community library and also build a 12-unit classroom block at Tsui-bleoo, adding that the assembly had approved a budget for the supply of 360 mono-desk to a 12-unit classroom block also at Tsui-bleoo, among other initiatives. She, however, stated that the assembly had challenges including inadequate funds, irregular flow of district assemblies’ common fund, poor attitudes of contractors, and non-availability of land. The Programmes Director at Penplusbytes, Mr Jerry Sam, said the citizens’ forum would provide an avenue for awareness creation among citizens of issues such as allocated budgets and development plans which would arm them with the requisite knowledge about the Ashaiman Municipality and thereby contribute meaningfully to the effective management of their resources for the benefit of all Mr Sam expressed the hope that such engagement would help the assembly to plan better and meet the exact needs of the citizens Benefits Mr Charles Zuttah, the Secretary of the Ashaiman-based Ghana Federation of the Urban Poor, a civil society organisation, lauded the initiative stressing that they had been empowered to effectively participate in the local governance decision-making process and promote better public service delivery especially in health and education. The Ashaiman Community Development Officer, Ms Vera Allottey, said such engagement programmes with residents would help to educate the residents and to inform them of development projects being embarked on with their taxes and levies.
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