Community participation in church assisted development projects: a case study of two parishes in the Catholic Diocese of Konongo-Mampong
The ultimate aim of development is to enable the disadvantaged group of the society to achieve better living conditions. Having this in mind, the governments of developing countries including Ghana have been emphasizing on the need for improving the livelihood of their inhabitants. However, due to scarce resources they have not been able to provide even the basic necessities for the resource poor people. This has compelled the community to adopt community participation which encourages and stresses on development by people’s own efforts and utilize the locally available resources. In the specific context of Ghana, Adarkwa (2000) argues that community participation is not a new phenomenon and has had a very long history dating as far back as the 1 950s where “self-help” was the norm for the planning and execution of most development projects. Hence, in Ghana the communities are conscious of the need to be self-reliant and are therefore seeing to the initiation, planning, financing and implementation of development projects with the assistance from different development agencies, namely Church organizations, both secular and religious organizations and the Non-governmental Organizations. In Kwabre and Ejisu Juaben Districts for instance the Catholic Church, protestant churches and the Non-Governmental Organizations assist development projects. The extent of the communities’ involvement in the studied development projects was appraised by using a set of criteria, namely leadership and organization in the settlements, institutions’ framework for decision making, the assistance advanced by the Catholic Church/Parishes and the relevance of the projects to the communities’ needs. It was carried out through case studies of some Catholic Church assisted projects. Based on these a number of findings were made: 1. The findings of the study indicate that community participation varied from project identification to planning, implementation and maintenance. 2. During implementation, participation was mainly in the provision of finance and communal labour. 3. The parishes’ expectation from the Diocese of Konongo-Mampong and the Catholic Church’s headquarters regarding the provision of initial capital to run development projects was high. 4. The local churches assist the communities in their development endeavours based on their own set of objectives. 5. There was no effective monitoring and evaluation schedules for the projects which were studied. Based on the findings, recommendations were made: 1. A continuous monitoring and evaluation schedules have to be conducted by the parishes, and quarterly and yearly progress reports have to be submitted both to the District Assemblies and to the Diocese of Konongo-Mampong for coordination purposes. 2. Both the Diocese of Konongo-Mampong and the Catholic Church’s headquarters officials or their representatives as much as possible be invited in some community meetings to consult, educate and dialogue with the local community. 3. The communities in the project areas should be encouraged to establish self-help development funds. 4. Equal attention should be given to direct productive, income-generating projects so as to make development more sustainable. 5. Churches/Parishes should organise maintenance and management training courses for the communities in the studied project areas. Finally, the study made concludes that for development process to lead to better living conditions of the communities, local people’s participations should be given high esteem. The churches should also be encouraged to play a greater role in development planning efforts and be provided with institutional linkage that facilitates their contribution to the task of improving the status and welfare of the local community.
A Thesis Submitted to the School of Graduate Studies, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi in partial fulfillment of the requirement for the degree of Master of Science degree in Development Planning and Management, 2001