Ms Fati Lily Soale â€“ Head of SAU
Mr Elvis Otoo â€“ Technical Advisor, SAU
With the enactment of Act 462 in 1993, the Government of Ghana has demonstrated its commitment to deepen the decentralization process of bringing public sector decisions to citizens. As a result, various interventions have been undertaken to empower local communities to actively participate in the prioritization, implementation and monitoring of government development programs. However, citizens have not participated actively in demanding for accountability as a means of improving service delivery by assemblies.
The LGCSP Component Three focuses stimulating demand for accountable local governance and service delivery, which is also the social accountability objectives of the governmentâ€™s Decentralization Policy Framework and the National Decentralisation Action Plan (NDAP). The Component uses a social audit approach to improve citizenâ€™s understanding of local government issues, especially as it relates to Public Financial Management issues, as well as promote citizenâ€™s engagement with the MMAs in order to increase accountability to citizens and improve service delivery.
This component is delivered through the Social Accountability Unit within the MLGRD. Under this component, the MLGRD is generating civil society demand for financial information from MMAs (e.g. on budgets and audits); fostering more effective engagement between civil society and MMAs on PFM issues; as well as strengthening the capacity and engagement of citizensâ€™ representatives on the budget and service delivery issues. It also recognizes and identifies roles and responsibilities for the Ministerial Advisory Board of the Ministry of Local Government as an advisory entity for the social audit process.
Component 3.1 – Social Public Expenditure and Financial Accountability (SPEFA) Process
As part of the LGCSPâ€™s strategy to increase citizenâ€™s participation and interest in local government issues, a social audit approach has been adopted to stimulate civil society engagement with local governments on PFM issues. The Social Public Expenditure and Financial Accountability (SPEFA) SPEFA process brings together representatives of citizensâ€™ groups in the municipality to build their understanding of their local governmentâ€™s public financial management issues as well as to create opportunities for citizens to demand accountability from their MMAs.
The SPEFA process is managed by a consortium of 20 local CSOs with SNV-Ghana as the lead CSO. SNV provides capacity building support to the local CSOs and also assures of quality of delivery of training to citizens. This arrangement allowed for local CSOs based in the districts to lead the mobilization and capacity building of citizens on local government issues.
SPEFA groups consist of representatives of all recognized citizen groups in the MMA. These groups are identified by the MMA and the SPEFA CSOs in the district. Each SPEFA group has about 150 members.
SPEFA groups meet once in every three months for a capacity building session facilitated by the CSO. The CSO may decide to use resource persons from within or from other expert sources including the MMA. SNV leads in the development and dissemination of guidelines and manuals for SPEFA and town hall meetings. The SPEFA process is intended to improve citizensâ€™ perceptions of urban management and increase their engagement with urban assemblies.
The SPEFA is targeted at achieving the following:
- To provide consistent and high quality support for the development and operationalization of civil society-led SPEFA processes in the MMAs;
- To build the knowledge and capacities of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), Community Based Organisations (CBOs) and communities in LGPFM to equip them to engage MMAs and their sub-district structures on these issues;
- To strengthen CSOs/CBOs/NGOs, Members of Parliament, as well as Traditional and Community Leaders to effectively engage with the MMAs and sub-district structures on public financial management issues; and
- To support and underpin the governmentâ€™s Decentralisation Policy Framework and associated Policy Implementation Framework and Action Plan on social accountability.
As part of the SPEFA process, every participating MMA is expected to organise 2 town Hall meetings for citizens to interact with MMA officials on annual action plans, budgets and audits. These town hall meetings provide platforms for accountability to citizens and assembly officials to interact constructively on key development issues.
Component 3.2 – Media Network: Engaging media as part of stimulating demand for accountable local governance and service delivery
The Media Network on Social Accountability complements the citizenâ€™s engagement processes under the SPEFA. The overall objective of this network is to strengthen the capacity of media (print, radio and television) at the national and local levels to report on local government PFM issues. The Media Network is expected to increase the frequency and accuracy of media coverage on relevant topics under the project.
The Media Network on Social Accountability is a voluntary network of media practitioners who are interested in increasing the awareness of the public on local government issues. The media network is intended to increase the awareness of ordinary citizens on public financial management issues as well as to enhance information flow between citizens and the local government authorities.
The objectives of the Media Network include the following;
- to strengthen the capacity of the Media to report effectively on local government PFM issues;
- to increase the number of media entities reporting on PFM and social accountability issues at the national and local levels;
- to increase the frequency and accuracy of media coverage of the supply and demand side of accountability; and
- to ensure consistent, reliable and timely flow of information on local government PFM issues.
The Media Network has more than 350 registered members in all ten regions of Ghana. The Network members include media men and women from state- and private-owned media outlets as well as from the Information Services Department. The Network is organised at the regional level, and each region has its own executives who are responsible for agreeing on a set of activities to keep members engaged. Media Network Members receive frequent capacity building from the SAU on local government PFM issues to build their understanding and thus improve reporting on Local government. The SAU also facilitates access of Network members to key local government officials in the course of reporting.
The Media Network is managed by the Social Accountability Unit of the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development with specialized input from external consultants. The regional offices of the Ministry of Information provide coordination at the regional level and help to mobilize members.