The use of interactive online platforms to encourage the participation of citizens in local governance has built the capacities of District Assembly members to understand the immediate needs of citizens.
The platform has simplified the task of assemblies by cutting down on financial and logistic challenges which in the past has hindered efforts by the assembly to involve its citizens at the grassroots level.
That was the view of Mr Awal Sulemen Iddrisu, the Ada East District Assembly development planning coordinator who said working for a large community such as the Ada East district with limited funding options made the platform a worthwhile intervention.
He explained that by using the social interactive online platform which is integrated with Whatsapp and text messaging capabilities, he is able to receive a large number of concerns from citizens which he incorporates into the development plans of the district.
He was addressing some of the finalists of Making All Voices Count global innovative competition on Tuesday in Ada. The finalists are in the country to have a first-hand knowledge about PenplusBytes project “Grassroots Open Government initiative” and to draw inspiration from its implementation and sustainability.
He said citizens are now able to monitor and access government information, budget appropriations, policy analysis and development plans at the local government level.
The Making All Voices Count is a global competition that harnesses the power of new technologies to make governments more effective and accountable.
The project implemented in the Tamale Metropolitan Assembly and Ada East District Assembly is to ensure citizens have a voice in how resources are allocated for the development of their communities.
Mr Suleman Iddrisu said although the assembly hosts its citizen forum and town hall meetings from time to time, the social platform had provided additional access to citizens to channel their concerns.
In that regard he said, detachment is avoided due to frequent engagement with the people.
Jerry Sam, the project director of the Open Governance Initiative expressed satisfaction with the positive impact the project was making and how technology was breaking barriers and enabling effective communication between duty bearers and citizens.
He said Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and ordinary citizens now have an insight into the work of the district assembly.
He said monitoring the work of the Ada East District Assembly and the Tamale Metropolitan Assembly using digital tools enhances transparency and accountability which are key requirements for any successful democratic country.
With support from Making All Voices Count (MAVC), he said the initiative was a project that uses collaborative and integrated approach to enhance communication and information between citizens and the local government.
The project which started in May last year tackles three thematic areas which include health, education and sanitation.
He said the overall goal is to hold public officials accountable provide easy and accessible information on allocated budgets and development plans for communities which empowers and creates awareness by duly informing citizens about what duty bearers are up to in terms of development.
Dr. Delali Dovie and Dr Raymond Abudu Kassei are part of the 15 finalists who will be pitching their Climate Smart Integrated Flood Management ideas to judges of the competition at the Labadi Beach Hotel on Thursday.
Dr Abudu Kassei lamented the poor drainage system in Accra which was exposed by the June 3rd twin-disasters of floods and fire leading to the death of over 200 people.
He said their innovative idea will see the creation of a coordinated flood response system that will avert future flood disasters.
He explained that the climate Smart Integrated flood system will provide city planners and policy makers enough information to evacuate people from danger zones and that the June 3rd disaster could have been prevented if early warning systems and simple forecasting systems were in place.
Ms Monica Nthiga, South to South Lab Manager of MAVC said many countries of the world have a common governance problem and that the Global innovation competition seeks to support innovation and technology that has the potential to support better governance systems.
She said eight out of the fifteen finalists will have an opportunity to split a £600,000 funding grant and mentorship support to undertake their project and Implement the solutions in their countries.