By Abubakari Seidu Ajarfor
There are clear indications of civil engagement shrinking around the world presenting an increasin need to design better approaches and improve on existing ones to increase citizens participation.
This falls in line with Sustainable Development Goal 16 which focuses attention on the role of citizen action in building effective, accountable and inclusive institutions.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the two day social accountability multi-stakeholder forum held in Accra, the Board Chairman of Ghana Audit Service, Professor Agyemang Dua, who spoke on behalf of the Senior Minister Yaw Osafo Marfo, said, globally social accountability is recognized as one of the tools that Government can uses in the fight against corruption but more importantly, to increase citizen and Government engagement at the national, regional and district levels.
Prof Agyemang said this at the forum under the theme, “Institutionalizing Social Accountability in Local Governance: the Success, Gaps and Way Forward” organized by SEND Ghana jointly by CDD Ghana, Penplusbytes, and Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition.
He indicated that Government’s commitment to the use of social accountability is evident in the Social Accountability program hosted by the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development.
Mr. Dua added that through the programme government is empowering Metro, Municipals and District Assemblies (MMDAs), Civil Society organizations (CSOs) and end users of different public services to ensure that there is value for money.
“Government will continue to work with CSOs to increase social accountability in governance as well as in the planning, implementation, and delivery of public goods and services at national, regional and district level,” he posited.
According to Mr. Dua, the participation of the citizen in development is enshrined in law, administrative guidelines and procedures.
The Head of Research and Deputy Programs Director at CDD, Dr. Franklin Oduro noted that there is a gap between citizen’s engagement with duty bearers and public officials which undermines the effort of social accountability.
He added that citizen’s access to information on local Government development plans and budget remains a challenge because of the fact that official leaders refuse to make the information available to the public.
According to him, citizen’s voice must be enhanced but more importantly translate those voices into action that will inspire change and social accountability in the area of information service delivery.
“The question that often borders our mind is that what should we do differently at both the demand and supply side of information?” Dr. Franklin stated.
He said Government and CSOs must help to increase the momentum of citizens by building best approaches while improving on existing ones to deepen the social accountability efforts of the country.
“We must learn best practices and re-strategize in building social accountability mechanisms at the local level that will bring about the change we all desire for,” he emphasized.