Access to information is a key necessity for citizens to demand transparency and responsiveness from government and at the same time hold government to account on promises and assurances made to the public.
Penplusbytes working with the Committee on Government Assurances (CGA) in Parliament has adopted a rights-based approach to development, by engaging citizens on various government assurances using new digital tools. This working relationship has enabled citizens become aware of government assurances in their communities, report on the progress of work on various projects promised by government and play an effective oversight role on assurances given by government using new digital tools.
All these have been made possible under the project “Connecting Citizens to Parliament II” with technical support from OSIWA. The project’s digital platform (www.assurances.gov.gh), has made it possible for evidence-based advocacy where information about various government assurances have been simplified and made relevant to citizens to provide feedback on the state of development for those assurances.
Based on the aggregated feedback from the online platforms, the project team is embarking on verification visits to selected projects in the Greater Accra, Central and Eastern Regions. These visits are to assess at first hand, the veracity of claims and reports sent on the digital platform by citizens.
The trip, which is taking place in the week of 10th – 14th August 2020, will take the team to project sites of assurances on development of fishing landing sites at Jamestown, Winneba and Mumford. The assurance on these landing sites when fulfilled is expected to provide jobs, reduce post-harvest losses and increase the export volume of fish from the current 12 percent. The project team will also visit the construction of railway lines between Tema and Akosombo which has been earmarked to be completed by the end of August 2020.
According to Jerry Sam, Programmes Director at Penplusbytes, “this project is contributing to entrenching citizen participation in governance using new digital tools that is providing an easy and impactful way for citizens’ participation and expanding the democratic space”
The outcome of these visits will form part of a policy brief that will be generated and passed on to the CGA ahead of their own monitoring visits at a later date after which a final report will serve as evidence; based on which appropriate sector Ministers will be held to account during the CGA’s public hearings.
The project, which aims at complimenting the efforts of Parliament through the CGA to effectively play its oversight role on the Executive to ensure improved public service delivery, has meant that citizens through the online digital platforms, are now better informed and updated on pertinent assurances that affect their lives via SMS, web-forms and mobile apps as well as social media.