A Critical Review Of The Local Government Capacity Support Project
In March, 2015 the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development commissioned Plan Consult Ghana to undertake a detailed assessment of the implementation of the Local Government Capacity Support Project. This assessment was designed as a critical part of a mid-term review of the LGSP in line with agreements with the World Bank. The overall objective of the assessment was to take stock of progress achieved in relation to agreed targets as set out in the project implementation documents.
The assessment was also to provide information on challenges facing the project and strategies that would be adopted to enable it achieve its objectives. The review covered all four components of the LGCSP; Strengthening the Fiscal Framework for Decentralization, Enhancing Decentralized Urban Service Delivery, Stimulating demand for Accountable Local Government and Service Delivery and Institutional and Project Management Support.
The review process used a combination of primary and desk research approaches to gather and process information for analysis. The primary approach included interviews and discussions with well-informed individuals and groups who are direct stakeholders and beneficiaries in the project. Secondary approach included review of project reports and other key documents on the project. Information gathered through these sources were analysed using appropriate frameworks to enable the review consultants draw conclusions on progress made
and recommend strategies to improve upon performance.
Interviews were held with project stakeholders from 15 of the 46 MMAs that make up the project districts. The review team also held discussions with MLGRD, MoFEP, LGSS, representatives of Media and CSOs.
Overall, the assessment found that there is a steady progress towards achieving the objectives of the LGCSP. Nearly all planned activities have been executed in spite of some start up delays and challenges. Under component one, the MoFEP
has undertaken a number of studies to inform review of key legislation that governs the way government transfers monies to the assemblies and how assemblies’ budgets and utilizes these funds. Manuals have been developed to guide staff of the assemblies in budgeting and new audit guidelines. Simplified
budget templates have also been developed to help assemblies share budget and annual action plans with citizens.
Under the second component, the review found that there have been significant disbursements of UDG funds for investment albeit slow utilisation of the funds by the MMAs. Closely linked to the UDG is the development of capacities in the areas of procurement, financial management, safeguards and contract management among others. The review indicated a slow but steady process in developing capacities and systems for the uptake of these skills. Under the capacity support facility of the UDG, the review found that a number of manuals have been
developed and training provided to all in the areas of financial management revenue management and social accountability.
A number of MMAs have utilised their capacity support grants to develop systems and database to enhance revenue mobilisation and service delivery to citizens. Indeed, some of these MMAs are realising increased IGF receipts. Under component three, a new social accountability unit has been created at the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development to manage the SPEFA initiative and to lead strategies to engage citizens in the local government process.
SPEFA groups have been established in 35 out of the 46 MMAs and there was constant interaction between citizens and MMAs through the Town hall meetings. There was regular training of citizens and CSOs supporting the groups in the
MMAs. It appears as though, however, that, the SAU has not completed full integration into the MLGRD structures.
It was also found that the formation of a voluntary media network with about 350 members had enhanced the media’s understanding of key local government issues. There is increasing interest by media houses to provide reportage and get the assemblies to interact with citizens. Most local FM stations had weekly programs that created a platform for citizens to engage MMA officials.
A major recommendation drawn out of the findings was to strengthen systems that would enable a faster disbursement of UDG funds into social investments within the framework of the Project. This will mean scheduling UDG project to
be completed within 2 years, improving procurement and contract management within the MMAs.
Media houses must be encouraged to actively participate in the governance system at the local level by increasing air time allocated to the Assemblies to advertise and discuss their activities. They are also encouraged to incorporate Social Accountability and PFM issues into their regular programming. The media houses must be encouraged to invest in capacity building by sponsoring staff to undertake comprehensive studies into Local Governance and Public Financial Management Courses.