The inadequacies? of the youth?s participation in governance processes and decisions that affect them and their communities have been highlighted globally in the last decade. Obviously most states have failed to strategically harness the benefits of having a youthful population. Subsequently over the last decade, many states and organisation have increasingly initiated efforts to improve youth participation in governance. For instance the African union declared a youth decade [2009-2018] to advance the agenda of youth empowerment and development in member states. At the national level Ghana adopted the national youth policy in 2010 to empower the youth for effective participation in the national development agenda.
It is on this note that the foundation for security and development in Africa [FOSDA] in 2010 initiated the youth in governance [YIG] to encourage the Ghanaian youth to actively contribute to the consolidation of Ghana?s democratic gains. As part of the project, FOSDA with support from IBIS commissioned a baseline survey to ascertain the level of youth participation in local governance in Ghana in 2013, focusing on the three districts in the upper east, upper west, and the northern region of Ghana. Based on the findings, FOSDA extended the study to the northern sector in 2014 in collaboration with the institute of local government studies [ILGS] the study also looked at the role of local governments in youth development and sought to find out budgetary allocations to youth development at the local levels.
In this regard FOSDA and the ILGS have organise a 2 day youth forum to share the findings and recommendations of the study with decision makers, critical stakeholders and the Ghanaian youth.
The theme for this year?s forum was ?PROMOTING YOUTH PARTICIPATION IN LOCAL GOVERNANCE :THE PROSPECTS?.The forum brought together some youth from about 10 districts mainly yilo krobo,Gomoa west,Awutu senya,Ashiaman,Suhum,Nadoli,Agona,Asuogyaman,Awutu senya,Bawku districts etc. The forum therefore aimed at broadening discussions on youth development in Ghana particularly at the local level and chart a way forward.
The study research was was conducted in three assemblies namely yilo krobo municipal ,Awutu senya districts ,and Ashiaman municipal assemblies.ln all, a total of 140 questionnaires were received from sampled groups including districts Coordinating directors, planning officers ,budget officers ,presiding members ,National commission for civic education ,youth groups, Ghana youth employment and entrepreneurial development authority, assembly members, community members and traditional authorities.
The study according to FOSDA adopted a mixed research methods by combining both qualitative and quantitative methods.
The study saw limited involvement of the youth in governance and decision making process of the assemblies. They are not consulted on district development issues nor given any feedback on the decisions of the assemblies.
The study says the youth are disconnected when it comes to local/districts resource mobilisation, disbursement and management. They have no access to local financial information or opportunities to make input into the budgeting process. As a result no local provision is made in the budget for youth development.
It says none of the MMDAs has a comprehensive database on the youth to facilitate diagnosis of unique youth problems and interventions and that there is lack of mentorship for youth observatory and planning units.
The study recommends some interventions to help address the challenges of youth participation and unemployment in the assemblies.
It says MMDAs should improve the quality and scope of data on the youth by integrating youth interventions into overall district development plans and draw realistic actions plans for implementation.
They should also develop district specific youth policies or localize national youth policies in order to meet the orientation, aspiration, culture and the view of the youth in their localities. It called for a special committee to be created in the assemblies that would be in charge of youth development issues in the districts among others.
At the end of the two day national forum, to discuss the report the youth were of the view that youth development is crucial to national development and their effective participation in local governance must be a focus for MMDAs.The ministry of youth and sports, the national youth authority, the ministry of local government are all critical partners in this direction and must therefore be encouraged to play their roles effectively.the network called for the establishment of youth parliament in all MMDAs as stipulated in the national youth policy,it on MMDAs to bridge the communication gap by constantly and consistently involving the youth in deliberations at the local level on development policies in accordance with the local government Act 462.