Improving Citizens’ Access to Information: MFWA Schools 50 Local Assembly Officials in Ghana

Fifty officials from four Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) in Ghana are currently receiving training on how to improve information disclosure and citizens’ access to information. The officials comprise chief executives, public relations/information officers, budget officers, planning officers and environmental officers who are drawn from the Tema Metropolitan, Wa Municipal and Twifo Ati-Mokwa, and Ellembelle District Assemblies.

The training, which is being organised by the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), forms part of activities under the project: “Promoting Citizens’ Participation in Local Governance through Increased Access to Information”. Participants at the training will receive knowledge on and skills in how to effectively utilise media and other governance platforms to share information, and thus become more responsive to citizens’ queries on the management and utilisation of public resources within the local assemblies.

Leaders of the four MMDAs committed to the project when MFWA held inception meetings to broker collaborations between the MMDAs, local-based radio stations and Community Based Organisations. The MFWA’s Programme Officer for Media, Democracy and Development, Ms. Adizatu Moro Maiga said it is important for citizens to receive information from their duty bearers on how public resources are managed and utilized. “This does not only build trust in leaders; it also reduces citizens’ apathy towards local development” she added.

Launching the project in Wa, the Deputy Upper West Regional Minister, Hon. Chinnia Issahaku, observed that granting citizens’ access to information helps to dispel the negative perception they have about local authorities and their work. He therefore charged the assembly officials to take advantage of the project to explore effective ways to become more accessible to the community citizens.

The MFWA’s Access to Information Project seeks to promote accountability, transparency and inclusive governance. It is currently being implemented in partnership with DW Akadamie in four pilot districts and with OSIWA in five additional districts. It involves community forums, comprehensive capacity building programmes for local radio stations based in the target districts as well as support for media programme production on community development and governance issues.

Other activities under the project include training of young community members in citizen journalism, and production of policy briefs highlighting community development and governance challenges in the target districts.

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