According to Crawford (2004), Decentralisation has become an increasingly widespread and significant dimension of political and administrative reform in many developing countries since the late 1980s; this notion has been supported by various actors across the world; ranging from international development agencies to national governments to non-governmental and grassroots organisations. In Africa, decentralisation is implemented in various forms by governments across the continent; undoubtedly, in West Africa it is difficult to find a country that does not have a decentralization programme. Decentralization has some benefits for which its adoption is being pursued by both developing and developed countries across the globe. Some of these benefits were stated by Crawford (2004) in terms of socio-economic importance and local governments being more accountable to citizens’ needs and desires. Also according to Litvack (2004), decentralization can play an important role in broadening participation in political, economic and social activities in developing countries.
Where it works effectively, decentralization helps alleviate the bottlenecks in decision making that are often caused by central government planning and control of important economic and social activities. Decentralization connotes generally the transfer of political power from central government to sub-national governmental authorities Akpan (2007). Decentralization thus gives citizens greater influence over the level and mix of government services and empowers citizens to hold their officials accountable. Decision making remains the core of every developmental process and decentralization offers grassroots the opportunity to participate in decision making. Participation and decentralization are interrelated concepts in the development of nations since the entire decentralization focuses on incorporating the views of the citizens of a particular country into decisions regarding developmental programmes and projects.
Decentralization as an approach to development administration occupies important conceptual positions within the development decision discourse (Manor, 1999). On the political stands president Kaunda of Zambia brought to bear how democracy influences decentralization in which citizens participate not only through their freely elected representatives but also by their own involvement in decision making processes (Kaunda 1974, cited in Conyers, 2006). The concept of popular participation is also an integral component of the basic needs approach to development which has guided many national and international development policies since the mid of 1970s, and this has led to an interest in decentralized planning among international agencies concerned with basic needs strategies, particularly the International Labour Organisation (ILO) (Conyers, 2006). Several researches were conducted on the decentralization concept both in developing and transitional countries over the years.
Most of the available research (e.g. Ahmad et al, 2005 cited in Akpan, 2007) concentrate on the effects of decentralization expenditure allocation or on the impact of public services provided, and does not focus much on the effective implementation of decentralization policies (Apkan, 2007). While almost all developing countries are experiencing some form of decentralization, the degree of actual implementation differs widely. One of the researches conducted by World Bank, in thirty (30) African countries exploring the decentralization process revealed that-only few countries including South Africa, and Uganda reached the devolution stage of power and resource dissemination to local levels, with the remaining countries still galloping in the earlier stages of decentralization in the form of deconcentration instead of real devolution (OECD, 2004).
Uganda is one of the Sub-Saharan African countries to successfully adopt and implement the decentralization process in order to provide better public services to its citizens (this is supported by the Local Government Act 1997, which rests the responsibility of most service provision on the local government), with the objective of ensuring that services provided are responsive to local needs and available resources are utilized in an efficient and effective manner (Kator, 1997 cited in Akpan, 2007). Uganda did well in the implementation of the process in improving service delivery. Uganda was however criticized on the basis of not being able to achieve enough improvement (Saito, 2000 cited in Akpan, 2007). Obwona (2000) indicated that financial and institutional constraints have adversely affected the ability of the sub-national governments to adequately deliver services of sufficient quality in Sub-Saharan Africa. Sierra Leone is one of the new countries to experience a U-turn in the adoption and implementation of decentralization. Available literature indicates that, the “exclusion and deprivation of the rural masses” formed the bases for the civil war that took place in Sierra Leone.
And hence decentralization was adopted as a key strategy for addressing the problem, energizing local leadership across the country and opening space for popular participation (Zhou, 2009). Ghana, like other developing countries adopted and instituted a decentralization policy in 1988. The policy seeks to create a kind of governance that will encourage a greater degree of local autonomy and make district administration and development more efficient and responsive to the needs of the local people. The current decentralization process took effect from the early 1990s, and was established by the Local Government Law (PNDC Law 207) and further supported by the provisions in the 1992 constitution of Ghana (Article 240 (2) (b)). The Local Government Act of 1993 (Act 463), created the three-tier structure of sub-national government at the regional, district and sub-district levels (Nkrumah, 2000 cited in Crawford, 2004).
The District Assembly is the highest political authority in the district. All the District Assemblies have sub-structures constituting Urban, Zonal and Town/Area councils. These structures have unit committees as the lowest plan implementing authorities, but their outputs are given little recognition and members receive no remuneration due to poor financial statuses, and hence reducing their effectiveness and efficiency thereby lowering the involvement of local people from whom information is to be sort (USAID, 2003 cited in Crawford, 2004). In view of the relevant role of citizen participation in enhancing democratic governance and national development, it is important that attention is paid to grassroots participation in local level decision making and governance.
1.2 Problem Statement
The independent role of the local government, with discretionary powers at the grassroots, was subjected to a provision in Article 240 [2b] of the 1992 constitution of Ghana, which states that measures should be taken to enhance the capacity of local government authorities to plan, initiate, co-ordinate, manage and execute policies in respect of matters affecting local people (Ghana News Agency, 2005 cited in Antwi-Boasiako 2010). Some policy measures put in place by the government to improve grassroots participation include the; National Decentralization Policy (2010) which was formulated to cover certain areas of action including; popular participation and accountability, administrative decentralization, decentralized development planning; spatial planning among others to improve the performance of Sub-District Structures.
The principles of participation in local government and accountability to the locals were also emphasized in Article 240 [2e] of the 1992 Ghanaian constitution, which states that to ensure the accountability of local government authorities, people in particular local government areas shall, as far as practicable, be afforded the opportunity to participate effectively in their governance.
Despite all these efforts towards decentralization and participation of the sub-structures in governance, there are still some challenges that are faced in the decentralization process as a number of Sub-District Structures in most Districts are not functional. For example, during the eras of Rawlings and Kufour’s administrations, the locals rejected their leaders, but the executive rejected the cry of citizens at the grassroots (locals) (Ghana News Agency, 2005 cited in Antwi-Boasiako 2010). It is in this light that, the study uses the Wa Municipality as a case study to examine the prospects and contributions of the Sub-District Structures as well as the challenges confronting grassroots participation in decision making at the local level.
1.3 Research Questions
This Study focuses on examining the prospects and challenges of the Sub-District Structures within Ghana’s decentralization system using the Wa Municipal Assembly as a case study. The research questions for the study are therefore divided into two parts below.
1.3.1 Main Research Question
What are the prospects of the Sub-District Structures to the development of the Wa Municipal Assembly? 1.3.2 Specific Research Questions
1. What are the existing and functioning Sub-Structures within the Wa Municipal Assembly? 2. What are the challenges faced by these decentralized Sub-Structures in the Assembly? 3. What strategies exist for improving the performance of the Sub-District Structures in the Wa Municipal Assembly?
1.4 Research Objectives
The objectives of this research are of two parts; the specific and general and are as follows: 1.4.1 General Objective
To find out the prospects of the Sub-District Structures to development in the Wa Municipal Assembly 1.4.2 Specific Objectives 1. To assess the performance of the Sub-District Structures in the Wa Municipal Assembly; 2. To examine the challenges affecting the performance of the Sub-District Structures in the Wa Municipal Assembly; and 3. To find out the existing strategies to improve the performance of Sub-District Structures in the Wa Municipal Assembly. 1.5 Scope of Study
Geographically the research is undertaken in the Wa Municipality located in the Upper West Region of Ghana. The Wa Municipality shares boundaries with Nadowli, Wa East and Wa West Districts to the north, east, west and south respectively. The Municipality covers a total land area of 234.74 km2 representing 6.4% of the total land area of the Upper West Region. Contextually the study seeks to find out the prospects and challenges of the Sub-District Structures in the Wa Municipal Assembly. It also seeks to identify the existing and functioning Sub-District Structures and to find out the existing strategies to improve the performance of Sub-District Structures. The research will span between the periods of June 2013 to June 2014. 1.6 Justification or Significance of the Study
The study generally seeks to reveal the challenges that the decentralized structures within the Wa Municipality are faced with and their contributions to development. It is to help identify possible ways by which these challenges can be mitigated and how the prospects/contributions of these Sub-Structures can be taken advantage of to enhance development. This is further expatiated under three perspectives/components; that is in terms of; knowledge generation, policy making/formulation and research purposes. In terms of contribution to knowledge, this research will help increase knowledge on the prospects and importance of decentralization and decentralized sub-structures in the Wa Municipality and the need for a participatory system of administration/governance.
It is also intended to help in the understanding of the challenges of decentralization and how they can be mitigated. Drawing down to the policy component of the significance of the study, decentralization goes with the bottom up approach to development. Findings from the study will therefore help policy makers formulate policies to address existing challenges confronting the Sub-District Structures as far as decentralization and the Sub-District Structures in the Wa Municipality are concerned. Findings from the study will also serve as a foundation upon which further studies can be conducted on the Sub-District Structures in Ghana. The study can also serve as a reference point to other researches who would find some relevant things in this study to aid their work.
1.7 Research Methodology
This section of the study presents the methods and data collection sources that will be employed in this study as well as the sampling techniques and methods of data analysis.
1.7.1 Research Design
The Study adopted a case study research design to help investigate the prospects and challenges of the Sub-District Structures within the decentralized system in the Wa Municipality. The reasons for the choice of the case study was to enable the study undertake an in-depth analysis of the prospects as well as the challenges faced by the Sub-District Structures within the decentralized system of the Wa Municipality.
1.7.2 Data Collection Sources
Data for the study will be collected from two main sources .i.e. primary and secondary sources. The secondary data will be gathered from Annual Plans and Reports of the Wa Municipal Assembly, publications in magazines, newspaper articles, internet and other relevant books with regards to the study. Primary data will be collected through questionnaire administration and key informant interviews will be used to collect data from a sample of representative from respective unit committees, area councils and urban council in the Wa Municipality. Table 1 presents the data collection sources and methods for each research question.
Table 1: Data Collection Sources and Methods for Each Research Question Research Question| Required Data/Research Variables| Data Collection Sources| Data Collection Methods| What are the existing and functioning Sub-Structures within the Wa Municipal Assembly?| Functioning Sub-District Structures, functions currently performed, stipulated functions in Act 462, existing staff numbers, office accommodation, etc.Time, Decision making processes, decision making structures| Municipal Assembly Reports, representatives from sampled units, Local Government Act 1993.| Interviews, literature reviews|
What are the challenges faced by these decentralized Sub-Structures in the Assembly?| Funding availability and source, completed developmental projects, initiation of projects, availability of sponsors, information flow within the municipality, Educational levels, logistics,| Wa Municipal Assembly reports, Representatives from Sampled Sub-Structures, project reports| Interviews| What strategies and prospects exist for improving the performance of the Sub-District Structures in the Municipality?| Available policies and projects, Activities of NGOs, Other alternative sources of revenue.| District Planning and Coordinating Units, representatives of Sub-District Structures, etc.| Interviews | Source: Group’s Construct, June 2013.
1.7.3 Sampling Techniques
This section presents the sampling techniques, study population, sample size and the sampling method. This is further elaborated below; 126.96.36.199 Study Population The study population will consist of members and executives and staff of the various Unit Committees, Area Councils and Urban Council of the Wa Municipal Assembly.
188.8.131.52 Sample Size The Wa Municipality has a total of 78 Sub-District Structures which are further segregated into 1 Urban Council, 4 Area Councils and 73 Unit Committees. One (1) person will be interviewed in the Urban Council. With regards to the Area Councils, three (3) out of the four (4) Area Councils will be selected and one (1) person interviewed in each of the selected Councils. Also, 15 Unit Committees will be randomly selected from the 73 existing Unit Committees of which one person will be interviewed from each of the 15 selected Unit Committees. Table 2: Number of Members to be interviewed under Each Selected Sub-Structure Sub-Structures| No. Existing| No. of Members| No. of Structures Selected| No. of Members to be Interviewed| Urban Council| 1| 25| 1| 1|
Area Council| 4| 100| 3| 3|
Unit Committees| 73| 365| 15| 15|
Source: Group’s Construct, June 2013.
184.108.40.206 Sampling Method
The research will use both the probability and non-probability sampling methods during the study. For non-probability sampling, the study will purposively select the one (1) urban council, three (3) area councils. In terms of probability sampling fifteen (15) unit committees will be randomly selected to be interviewed. Simple random sampling however will be used to pick the selected individuals or groups to be interviewed in order to give all sampled groups the fair chance of being picked.
1.8 Data Analysis and Presentation
Quantitative data gathered from the research will be analysed with Statistical Package for Social Science (SPSS). Qualitative data will be subjected to thorough review and critical analysis in order to establish facts and come out with constructive findings as far as the prospects and challenges of the Sub-District Structures within the decentralized system are concerned.
1.9 Organisation of Report
This study will consist of five chapters. Chapter One gives a general introduction to the study. Chapter Two and Three of this study will cover literature review and profile of the area understudy respectively. Chapter Four covers data collection and analysis and Chapter Five concludes the study and gives the necessary recommendations.
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