COVID 19 – The Ghana Case 


23rd June 2020 marked exactly 100 days since the first cases of Covid 19 was reported in Ghana. Before the formal announcement (13th March 2020) of the first two cases in Ghana involving returning residents from Norway and Turkey, Ghanaians were already apprehensive given the awful news on Covid 19 around the globe. There were sustained pressure on the government to close Ghana’s entry borders and institute measures to possibly avoid an incidence of Covid 19 or curtail any possible spread should a case be recorded. However, since recording the first cases in March, the country has seen a sharp rise in infections across almost all its 16 administrative regions. The Greater Accra Region (Capital – Accra), Ashanti Region (Capital – Kumasi) and Central Region (Capital – Cape Coast) have for some time been the hottest spots in infections. Today (23.06.2020), 100 days since the announcement of the novel virus (SARS COV 2 or Covid 19), Ghana’s case count stands at 14,568 out of which 10,907 have been declared recovered and sadly 95 officially declared deaths. Read more here: COVID 19 – The Ghana Case Document

Decentralization For Effective Local Service Delivery in Ghana

A study towards deepening fiscal decentralization for effective local service delivery in Ghana

Evidence suggests that local governments are unable to provide high levels of public goods such as roads, electricity, sanitation, education, schools, health, and recreational facilities mainly due to their inability to mobilize adequate resources. There is however no consensus among policymakers, governments and scholars on how best to promote greater revenue mobilization by local governments and make adequate fiscal resources available to them to deliver services.

In the case of Ghana, part of the explanation to this problem is our inadequate understanding of how Ghana’s fiscal decentralization reforms work. Our inadequate understanding is also mainly explained by the processes and approaches used by many existing studies that do not give adequate room for the voices of the implementers of the policy. The need to deepen our understanding of Ghana’s fiscal decentralization reforms through the lenses and voices of the implementers of the policy has become apparent.

This is where Good Governance Africa seeks to contribute to this process by providing insights into how best to make Ghana’s fiscal decentralization reforms work. The major objective is to increase revenues to Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) by addressing the key constraints in the fiscal decentralization process. Ultimately, the findings will help policymakers to design more effective policy tools to help MMDAs raise adequate revenues and increase productive public expenditures at local government level. Read more here: Fiscal Decentralization Document

Urban Poverty and our Collective Safety

Slums and Informal Settlements in cities across Africa – The Ghana Case

A publication by the Cities Alliance states that policymakers and leaders should see investments in the improvement of slums as investments in public health. If this statement was contentious at the time, it certainly will receive some credibility in this period of worldwide pandemic. The events unfolding since the breakout of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, especially in the developing world, are bringing back the debate on how the development of slums and informal settlements should be tackled. Local governments usually refer to these pro-poor urban settlements as illegal, which does not assist in achieving a desirable outcome.

In Ghana, a spotlight on some of these slums amid the fight against COVID-19 has revealed years of neglect of the poor and the most vulnerable city residents. Lacking basic needs such as shelter, food and water, slum dwellers have been found wanting in their ability to adhere to government’s decision to announce partial lockdowns to contain the spread of the deadly virus. In most instances, the urban poor, including slum dwellers, have gone against the executive instrument of the president of Ghana, His Excellency Nana Addo Danquah Akuffo Addo, to stay indoors with the excuse of either having nowhere to call a home or being afraid of dying from hunger. Years of neglect in terms of infrastructure of these run-down communities have thus contributed to situations that could best be described today as inhumane or a ticking time bomb. There have been many calls for action and support for the needy in such communities during this time of COVID-19, with the middle and upper classes fearing that if nothing is done to assist these residents, the entire nation will be at risk. Our collective survival therefore hinges on the steady improvement in the living conditions of all, but especially the poor and the vulnerable (particularly women and children).

GGA-WA is revisiting its research, debates and public engagements on the subject of slums and informal settlements. A summary of some of the policy recommendations from the GGA study on slums and informal settlements in Ghana is set out below:

  1. City authorities must not seek to implement forced evictions – this is to avoid a situation whereby already poor and economically disadvantaged residents in the urban centres are displaced without any alternative accommodation from the government (both central and local).
  2. Need for collaboration and coordination amongst stakeholders – there is the realisation of duplication of efforts of various stakeholders attempting to address the concerns of slums. Years of interventions have yielded limited results, hence the need to pull resources together and coordinate actions to achieve expected impacts.
  3. Improve the general economy to prevent the creation of new slums – while there are bold attempts at addressing development gaps in slums in our major cities, the government must take urgent steps to also develop rural areas to check the continuous migration of people from these communities. Economic development should be equitability distributed to help stop the creation of more city slums.
  4. Slum upgrading or redevelopment should be supported – slums that have existed for many years should be redeveloped to improve the living conditions of the urban poor. Since African governments have failed in their attempts to relocate urban slums, it is time to rethink forceful evictions and the categorisation of slums and other informal settlements as illegal. Instead, they must be upgraded or redeveloped to stem challenges such as COVID-19.

Read more from the research report titled, Slums and Informal Settlements Development Towards Making Ghana’s Cities Resilient Document


Economic Development Pathways for Local Area Development

Ghana currently has 260 districts under its local governance structure and these districts are to bring development closer to the people. The administrations of the districts, formally referred to as metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies (MMDAs), are the highest development authorities at the local level under Ghana’s 1992 Constitution. The decision to create these local authorities to oversee locallevel development was partly born out of the realisation that central government development interventions were inadequate to propel locallevel development consistent with the development agenda of the nation. Also, where these development initiatives were sometimes provided at local level before the introduction of decentralisation, they often did not meet the actual needs of the people. 

To deepen Ghana’s decentralisation agenda, and indeed make the MMDAs self-sufficient in providing local services and development, the ability of the districts in raising their own revenue must be enhanced. Under fiscal decentralisation, the MMDAs, aside from receiving statutory transfers from the central government, are to also raise enough revenue from local fees, fines and rates for development. The mobilisation of these local resources for development is, however, dependent on the economic vibrancy of a given district. Districts may have some comparative advantages in terms of economic activities that the MMDAs could promote or create enabling environments for local level investments. 

The GGA West Africa centre – with its commitment to promoting sustainable governance practices that have the potential of alleviating poverty at all levels of national development, particularly at the local level – is developing capacities at the district level to deepen local economic development. This intervention is seen as a progressive measure in alleviating poverty at community levels. Read more here: Economic Development Pathways Document  


Making Local Economic Development (LED) work in Ghana

Local Economic Development (LED) currently, has no unified definition and development practitioners, international institutions and researchers have diverse perspectives on LED. The different operational definitions on LED are influenced by the entities unique approach to LED. Globally, some organisations such as the United Nations describe LED as a locally-owned, bottom up process by which local stakeholders from the public and private sector and civil society work together to support sustainable economic development (UN-Habitat, 2016). Whiles the International Labour Organisation (ILO) also views LED as a participatory development process that ultimately leads to decent work (ILO, 2006).

Researcher and development practitioner, Bartik (2003), explained that LED is about local capacity building that strengthens small and medium-sized enterprises through skills building and networking for wealth creation. Similarly, according to Trah (2004), LED is a territorial concept and part of local development or regional management, specifically aiming to stimulate the local economy to grow, compete and create more jobs, by making better use of locally available resources. Among the research community, the different perspectives on LED emerge from their distinctive disciplines.

Despite the different views on LED, they all converge on some common characteristics. These common characteristics suggest that LED is a participatory and inclusive process drawing on multiplicity of actors and stakeholders within a territorially defined area and adopts a bottom-up approach to create room for local input into governance and decision-making, and whose purpose is to build entrepreneurial capacity, improve opportunities for economic growth and the quality of life of the local citizens. LED works towards achieving multiple Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

It is particularly instrumental in advancing SDG goal 11 (on making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable) and SDG goal 8 (which aims at inclusive growth and decent work for all) (UNDP, 2015). The objectives of the LED process can be economic growth, business creation, employment generation, engendering innovation, or combinations thereof. LED is important and key to sustainable growth, poverty reduction and the elevation of indices of the wellbeing of people and the society. Read more here: Local Economic Development (LED) – Mini Report

The roles and responsibilities of metropolitan, municipal and district actors in Local Economic Development

Local governance has, since the 1990s, gained global importance in many developing countries. The flurry of national governments’ interest in decentralisation is driven by multiplicity of factors, including: the desire and commitment to improve the efficiency of public services delivery; managing the fast pace of growth of many emerging urban centres; and deepening democratisation and accountable governance at the local level (European Commission, 2007). More recently, there have been efforts, informed by institutional theories, to conceptualise and analyse the connections between institutions, local governance and economic development more generally (Gómez and Knorringa, 2016).

In this context local governance involves complex layers of interactions between real actors in close proximity with each other, and with private and non-state actors to make decisions that have Local Economic Development (LED) implications (Helmsing, 2001). This new form of decentralised local governance also resonated well with many countries that have been implementing local government reforms. However, LED requires a system in which local institutions are part and parcel of the processes of raising economic awareness, framing strategies, facilitating and generating collaborative, collective actions for a common purpose (Helmsing, 2001).

While many countries, including Ghana have been very successful at deepening political and administrative decentralisation, the verdict is mixed when it comes to fiscal decentralisation, a key component of local government reforms. Fiscal decentralisation is a key cog in the drive for greater government efficiency at the local level, particularly in local governments ability to collaboratively initiate, plan and strategise to promote LED (Mensah et al, 2017). This is so because, Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) are the public entities with the mandate to ensure the holistic development of the communities and localities within their jurisdiction, and financial resources are important in this regard.

While many MMDAs have been successful with the provision of various social services, they have been unable to make their local micro economies work to create jobs, incomes and economic opportunities for the masses. As such there is the growing need to negotiate some form of transition from service provision to facilitation of broad-based local development, including local economic development at the local level in Ghana. Good Governance Africa (GGA) – West Africa Centre in Accra has therefore taken it upon themselves to train and empower selected actors in the MMDAs to first deepen their understanding of their economic development function and secondly to equip them with tools to better deliver on that mandate. Read more here: Local Economic Governance Brief


Research into Slums and Informal Settlements: development towards making Ghana’s cities resilient

Ghanaian cities like many of their peers on the African continent continue to experience fast growth in terms of their populations. This growing population puts enormous pressure on the provision of infrastructure and services, and the international call for cities to be resilient and sustainable could be lost on the continent if urbanisation is not properly managed. A major urbanisation development that threatens the resilience of cities is the phenomenon of slums and informal settlements. People migrating into Ghanaian cities without the means to afford the increasing cost of city accommodation tend to find their way to the most abandoned parts of cities and the result is the erection of makeshift structures as homes or shelters.

In the past three decades, there have been growing calls for government and other stakeholders to address the situation. There have been many attempts at forceful evictions as well as attempts to initiate affordable housing schemes for low-income earners, all of which have largely failed. The debate over the most appropriate way of addressing this threat to building resilient and sustainable cities in Ghana continues, with successive governments attempting to implement one policy or another. Recent natural disasters in cities like Accra, however, seem to be compounding the situation, with families and individuals who have lost their homes finding solace in the slums in the face of failed social nets.

This publication adopts a more qualitative approach to unearthing the dynamics in selected slums in the cities of Accra and Sekondi/Takoradi (a twin city). The voices of inhabitants are thus heard in the collection of views on a number of issues in city development and management. Policymakers, security agencies, academia, development partners and the general public will find this publication insightful. Read more here: A Research into Slums and Informal Settlements Document


Ground Zero – Ameliorating Strategies for Kindergarten Education in Ghana

Sharing the vision and understanding of Ghana’s government that every child needs to be educated as part of his or her fundamental human rights, GGA-WA, from its inception, has lent its support to the education sector.

Rightly so, the centre also shares in the belief that “the beginnings of a child’s life are formative, both prior to and after she/he has enrolled in school” but most of all at the kindergarten level.

The GGA-WA stance is not to start with a very grand approach to early childhood education, which cannot be sustained by either the government across the country or by the districts themselves, but rather to adopt simple but innovative ways of delivering quality education.

Ground Zero is, therefore, a probe into existing education policies and programmes that have not been effectively implemented, mostly in public schools.

The study then adopts verifiable techniques to offer early childhood in the most effective and appealing way as an alternative to the current system used in most public kindergarten institutions.

Findings from the research compares facts and figures between public and private institutions for a better appreciation of what the current situation is, and what could be done to improve it going forward.

It is a simple study that has proved useful for the implementers of education policy, especially at the lower level, and could be a guide for the process of transforming kindergarten education in the various districts in Ghana.

The research report in itself is GGA-WA’s contribution to the country’s decentralisation agenda and will support the proper devolution of the education sector among local governments.