The Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) and UNICEF has held an engagement with the media on reporting effectively on the District League Table (DLT) to generate the desired responses from stakeholders.
The District League Table, initiated in 2014 with consecutive annual publications since, is a simple ranking tool of the level of development in each of Ghana’s 216 districts, and seeks to increase social accountability for development across all the districts so as to improve responsiveness in service delivery.
Mr Rexford Kwaku Asiama, Research Officer at CDD, said the DLT needed more ‘constructive coverage’ as the purpose for publishing the table was not to ‘name and shame’ districts that are saddled with severe challenges.
He said since the development level of a district is the responsibility of the government, the least ranked districts needed more targeted support in terms of resource allocation to overcome their hurdles.
Mr Asiama said the media should be cautious not to present their reports in ways that would completely dismiss districts at the bottom of the table as non-performing and wasteful.
He said the DLT could serve several purposes including its use by citizens to inform themselves on their districts ranking and to call the attention of stakeholders at the national level to address their deprived status.
Mr Asiama said the civil society and media are also expected to use the table to strengthen their understanding of the level of development across the country and call for greater accountability from national government.
Moreover, he said, government could also use the DLT to acquire valuable information on the status of service delivery and to improve their services.
He said the publication of the District League Table is predicated on six key indicators: education, health, security, sanitation, water and governance.
Mr Asiama said these aggregates are specifically narrowed down to the average Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) pass rate, percentage of communities that are certified as Open Defecation Free, percentage of women that have a skilled attendant at birth delivery, coverage of police officers, FOAT Performance Measurement score and coverage of water in rural communities.
He said the criteria used in selecting the above indicators were premised on their representativeness of outcome and output levels, annual stability, and availability at the district level in an annually produced national database.
Mr Asiama said certain observations made in the DLT processes that have informed a change and review of the specified indicators in subsequent publications.
These observations, he said, include inequity in districts at the top and bottom of the table, high within region inequity, challenges in access to data, regular data verification, need for better indicators, resource mobilisation, need for greater commitment to monitoring and evaluation, supervision and accountability from national government to district facility.
Mr Asiama said in terms of feedback, the districts recalled delays in the disbursement of the District Assemblies Common Fund which hampered projects and programmes execution.
He said the state of fiscal decentralisation is shallow among government and MMDAs as well as the persistence of low compliance with local level tax and non-tax revenue mobilisation.
Mr Awal Mohammed, a Research Officer at the Centre, urged the media to delve more into the disaggregated scores and report on particular sectors where the various districts were either performing well or otherwise.
This, he said, would invariably prompt the District Assembles to inject more energies and resources into the sectors where they fall short.
Doing so would also realize the total objectives of the DLT, that is, increasing social accountability for development and improving responsiveness in service delivery, he added.
The District League Table continuously receives various contributions from the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, Ministry of Education, Ghana Education Service, Ministry of Health, Ghana Health Service, Community Water and Sanitation Agency, Ghana Police Service and the Ghana Statistical Service.