Bringing Government and Community Together
From 2001-2004, NCBA/CLUSA successfully implemented GAIT I (Government Accountability Improves Trust), a USAID-funded program in Ghana through the Cooperative Development Program (CDP), to improve the delivery of public services at the district level by engaging citizens in district-level decisions. In 2005, USAID expanded the project, with an increase of funding to $11 million dollars over a five year period, including a total of 25 new districts under GAIT II.
GAIT II builds the capacity of citizens to transform their traditionally passive role to one of active ownership and interaction with government agencies that provide public services. Citizens have become empowered to discuss local issues and problems while also engaging in the development of solutions. They also can participate in the oversight and management of public services. This increased organization of civil society motivates district leaders to respond to requests and engage local people as partners in governance.
The projects’ primary activities worked to:
- Strengthen the ability of District Assemblies to seek and respond to citizen input by providing training in transparency and participative governance techniques
- Increase the capacity of Civil Society Organizations (CSO) to engage local governments effectively, by offering training in financial management, business skills, media skills, and advocacy
- Improve the delivery of education through the creation and empowerment of Parent Teacher Associations (PTAs)
- Organize citizen participation techniques such as town hall meetings, public hearings, budget review sessions, fee fixing consultations, marches, media events and parent-teacher meetings to allow for public engagement in local decision making
- Organize diverse CSOs into large Civil Unions (CU) enabling citizens to yield greater influence
EMPOWERING PEOPLE FOR CLEAR RESULTS
GAIT II staff has:
- Trained 942 government staff in transparency and participative governance techniques
- Helped improve the capacity of 634 CSOs
- Organized 324 CPTs
- Helped communities develop 16 District Strategic Development Plans
- Trained 65 District Directors of Education
- Trained 968 Internal Resource People (IRP) to ensure the sustainability of GAIT results
- Helped increase student enrollment in target districts by 6.7%
A striking example of community empowerment occurred in the Sekyere West District when hundreds of young people from the Nsuta Youth Movement organized a protest at the local District Assembly Hall. The protest, designed to denounce the slow pace of development and delayed public sanitation projects, resulted in the District Assembly authorities convening a town hall meeting to discuss the community’s concerns. The District Assembly, in turn, drafted a plan responding to the citizens’ major issues that were voiced at these town hall meetings.
Just three days after the strike, the Ghana Water Company started pumping potable water to the Nsuta community, which was one of the community’s primary concerns.