Across eight municipal and district assemblies in Ghana, hundreds of citizens are engaging their local authorities on pertinent development issues in coordinated radio conversations.
In a project aimed at increasing citizens’ participation in local governance, the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) is harnessing the power and influence of radio—which is a major source of information in Ghana—to bridge gaps and increase local authorities’ responsiveness in finding solutions to the myriads of development challenges raised by citizens.
The initiative is providing support to well-structured radio programmes, such as the quarterly State of the District broadcasts and Live broadcast town hall meetings, which have offered the platform for fruitful citizens-authorities engagements. The project has also enhanced the communication capacity of the local assemblies by developing and implementing communication strategies which are boosting the assemblies public outreach with their constituents.
In February 2019, over 50,000 citizens across eight municipal and district assemblies in Ghana, tuned in to listen to their Chief Executives Officers present reports on the state of their district in a live radio session. Thereafter, citizens through direct phone-ins, text messages, social media platforms including Facebook and WhatsApp asked follow-up questions as well as clarifying the issues raised in the report.
The State of the District Broadcast is held quarterly and presents an opportunity for local media, citizens and community groups to be informed of the state of affairs in the district and as well follow-up on critical issues ranging from health care, schools and education, farming and agriculture and infrastructure.
The live broadcast town hall meetings witnessed a massive turn out of hundreds of community members–including women, youth and persons with disabilities (PWDs). Citizens and local assembly officials on a common platform discussed key developmental issues including lack of access to clean and potable water, the absence of health facilities, malfunctioning community-based health planning services (CHPS) compound, high rate of unemployment among the youth, dilapidated infrastructural facilities and the distribution of government-procured fertilizers among the farmers. Other community members who could not be present at the meetings followed the discussions live on radio.
Across the eight districts, community members have expressed delight for the provision of the platforms that have enhanced their engagement with the authorities, adding that the coordinated radio programmes will offer them the opportunity to follow up on the promises the authorities have given.
“Here in Vieri our biggest problem is the poor road. We are happy the District Chief Executive (DCE) is here himself. He has promised to take it into consideration and we will be following up with the assembly on the promise. We are happy the town hall meeting was held in this community” a Women Group leader in the Vieri, a community in the Wa West District in the Upper East Region, said.
The Chief Executive Officers and other authorities of the Municipal and District Assemblies have also indicated their commitment to engage with the citizens and the media through the platforms created to ensure the improved access to information in the communities is sustained.
“The Assembly will provide the necessary support to the community and we advise parents and community members to take advantage of the Free SHS and other government policies to create a good livelihood for themselves and their families. We will continue to partner with the media to get information to you on the development interventions in the District,” said the Municipal Chief Executive Officer (MCE) of Walewale Municipal Assembly
The project is being implemented in Wa East District, Wa West District, Wa Municipal, Lawra Municipal and Sissala East Municipal all in the Upper West Region; Walewale Municipal in the Northern Region; Ellembelle District in the Western Region and Twiffo Ati-Mokwa District in the Central Region.
The initiative forms part of the MFWA’s media and good governance programme and is being implemented with funding support from STAR-Ghana.