Participants in a two-day workshop on mechanisms and application of social accountability for public sector service delivery have identified that the accountability relationship between local authorities and organisations is weak and needs to be addressed.
The workshop was organised by the Land Services and Citizenship Project of the Institute of Local Government Studies.
The participants were drawn from the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, metropolitan and municipal assemblies in the Greater Accra Region, traditional authorities, civil society organisations and service providers.
Service providers of the local authorities include private toilet operators, waste management services organisations, medical and utility services providers.
The Project Coordinator of the Land Services and Citizenship Project, Mr Edward Aboagye, indicated that the weakness was because policy makers “in many cases have not established standards for service provision.”
He stated that improving the delivery of public services continued to be the key objective that had occupied the agenda of politicians and public administrators for years.
However, he observed that the local authorities often lacked the capacity and information to oversee and enforce its compact with service providers.
“They also often lack fundamental information about the performance of service providers with which to adequately manage them or the capacity to sanction underperformance.”
Poor local assemblies
Local authorities, he further said, especially the poorer ones, often had little power over service providers and were unable to sanction them for misdeeds and underperformance.
According to him, part of the problem could be blamed on the fact that citizens were often unable to access enough information to monitor the performance of service providers.
A Programme Manager of SNV Ghana, Mrs Sarah Agbey, who spoke on institutionalising social accountability at the local level in Ghana, said such a move would enhance the knowledge of citizens on policies, programmes and projects.
“It will also make mechanisms transparent, open and improve access to reliable information, thus reducing speculation in the system,” she said.
Institutionalising social accountability, she said, would also enhance efforts to improve cooperation among civil society, community groups, citizen’s associations and assemblies.
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