The Institute for Democratic Governance (IDEG) has held a two-day sensitisation on local governance and decentralisation processes for citizens of about 40 cocoa communities in seven districts in the Ashanti and Ahafo Regions.
The event was aimed at deepening their knowledge and involvement in the shaping and management of development projects at the community level to enable them demand accountability from duty bearers.
Held at Mankranso, the District Capital of the Ahafo Ano South, the training brought together a total of 160 participants from such communities in the Ahafo Ano North, Ahafo Ano South East and Ahafo-Ano South West.
The rest are; Asutifi North, Asutifi South, Tano North and Tano South Districts.
It is receiving funds from the Mondelez International Cocoa Life (MICL) Programme in Ghana and was made to coincide with the inauguration of IDEG’s Governance Issues Forum Network (GIFNeT) in these communities.
GIFNet is an IDEG/MICL collaboration which provides a framework for promoting participatory bottom-up democracy in Ghana to empower citizens especially the youth, women and smallholder farmers to enable them participate in public policy decision-making at the local levels.
Mr. Ewald Quaye Garr, the Acting Programme Lead for Civic Empowerment for Community Action (CECA) at IDEG speaking at the event, said the goal was to empower those living in cocoa growing communities to have a say in local governance issues that affects their lives.
He said cocoa farmers produced the bulk of the nation’s wealth, yet they were among the poorest in the country and this called for proactive interventions by stakeholders to impact the needed positive change.
“This is exactly the focus of IDEG- to help sustain high cocoa production by building the capacities of farmers to see the need to mobilise themselves not only to engage, but influence their local, national leaders as well as other stakeholders for their developmental benefits”, he added.
“We want cocoa farmers and local people in these areas to own the process of shaping the development of their families and communities”, he noted.
Participants at the training included; representatives from the various respective Municipal/District Assemblies, cocoa farmers and members of the Governance Issues Forum Network (GIFNeT).
He urged the GIFNeT members and people in cocoa growing communities to unite efforts with stakeholders in order to influence government’s prioritisation of infrastructure development in cocoa growing communities to help improve their livelihood.
Mrs. Trueluve Antwi Bekoe, Planning Officer of the Ahafo Ano South East District commended IDEG for the initiative and said it would establish and augment the conscious responsiveness of the local communities with their duty bearers to help facilitate development of their communities.
Imam Safiu Abdulai, GIFNeT member and participant from the Abonsuaso Community in the Ahafo Ano North Municipal, also commended GIFNeT for the initiative and urged the GIFNeT members to put into practice lessons learnt in order to attain the developmental agenda of their communities.
He also urged GIFNeT members and people in the cocoa growing communities to be proactive in the inclusiveness of local governance in order to lobby, win, monitor and sustain socio-economic developments in their communities.