Community participation approaches to rural development in Ghana - a study of Fanteakwa District in the Eastern Region

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Community Participation now appears to be the “soft ware” in rural development. Community Participation as a development approach is an essential cog in the wheel of ensuring that community projects and programmes are well thought out, executed, monitored, evaluated, maintained, managed, financed and sustained for the benefit of the present generation and posterity. There have been several and varied interventions in community participation (CP) in Ghana to solve rural development problems. But it seems the desired results have been eluding the rural communities. The main objective of this study therefore is to determine the various community participation approaches in the Fanteakwa District of Ghana and assess their possibilities and implications towards successful and effective grassroots participation. The study further attempts to assess the communities’ level of CP in relationship to nationwide assessment. Efforts were made to establish findings from the data analysis and recommendations were also considered to improve the level and depth of community involvement and participation in rural development projects and programmes. Data for the study were obtained from rural community settlements in the Fanteakwa District - the study area. Indepth personal questionnaires and interviews were administered by the researcher himself during the month of May, 2000. Respondents were mainly rural community members, opinion leaders, Assembly Members, District level officials at Begoro and head office officials at the relevant sector ministries and departments in Accra. Among the several projects and programmes undertaken in the district since 1990 a representative of seven were examined in details for the study. These community projects were: • Water and Sanitation Projects. • Dedesiwirako Irrigation Development Project. • Rural Electrification Projects. • School Performance Appraisal Meeting (SPAM) Programmes. • Girl-Child Enrolment Drive Programmes. • Ahomahomaso-Ghana-Canada Co-operation Clinic and Nurses’ Quarters Project • Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI) Programmes. The study revealed high levels of participation in some communities, particular projects and at particular stages of the project cycle. On the whole, there was a high level of community involvement and participation at the implementation stage where communal labour was cheaply supplied. The study established low level of involvement and participation at the project initiation of the Girl-Child Enrolment Drive, SPAM and the EPI programmes. The Dedesiwirako Irrigation project showed very high monitoring and evaluation but generally evaluation of projects was found to be not encouraging. Post implementation, maintenance and management teams were significant to the Irrigation, Clinic and the EPI programmes so a high degree of participation was exhibited by the communities under study. While the technical nature of the physical projects of Rural Electrification and Irrigation projects indicated low programmes management capacity, Health and Education programmes had a high level of community involvement and participation at the post implementation, maintenance and management stage of the approach- process. Furthermore, the study confirmed that rural poverty worsened the financial capacity of communities’ involvement and participation in projects. This major shortcoming is a threat to sustainability. The Dedesiwirako Irrigation Project was the only exception but had to pay a high price as the project promoted inequality between the rich and the poor. On the whole, communities perceive effective community participation as the presence of active and vigilant self-help organisations and other voluntary organisations. Major problems identified were financial constraints, apathy and poor motivation for communal workers. The study made the following proposals to address the setbacks in community participation: • There is the need for extensive countrywide educational campaign to sensitise the rural dwellers before national policies are introduced; • Community Water and Sanitation Agency (CWSA) should expand their activities to include provision of community KVIP in addition to household VIP; • Communal labour as an input for project should be quantified in monetary terms; • Unit committees and other community organisations are to be roped in the monitoring and evaluation of projects; • The culture of maintenance of project facility could be encouraged through training of the local people; • For sustainability of project facilities permanent management structures and institutional arrangements could be established; • Trust, transparency and accountability which are vital for the promotion of local initiative and fulfilment should be encouraged in the rural communities; • The timely flow of information for rural development could best be promoted through the installation of a Community F.M. radio facility; • Government should be seen to be keeping faith with the rural communities by total commitment to the community participation concept through practical manifestation and execution of programmes and projects. • Community Participation for sustainability of projects and programmes is likely to yield very high dividends when the network among community members, community leaders, District Assembly and government is strengthened. Finally, the indepth study has remarried the apparent divorce between successful and long-term sustainability of rural projects and rural dwellers through community participation.
A Thesis submitted to the Board of Postgraduate Studies, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi in partial fulfilment of the requirement for the award of the Degree of Master of Science in Development Policy and Planning, 2000