Community Civic Engagement processes that promote Good Governance and Development in the Decentralised Local Governance System in Abura
(Submitted in partial fulfillment of the postgraduate course in Advanced Research Methods at the Institute for Development Studies, University of Cape Coast, Ghana)
Dennis K. A. Penu, Comfort Ninson, Albert K. Woode
Our main research objective was to explore the community civic engagement processes that promote good governance and development in the decentralised local governance system in Abura. Abura is a local community near the University of Cape Coast, in the Cape Coast Metropolis of the Central Region of Ghana. Against the background that community civic engagement and grassroots participation in development had become the needed ingredient for sustainable development in Ghana, we set out to gather the existing perceptions and challenges facing civic engagement in Abura and to investigate the motivations for citizens to participate in community projects.
We approached this study with purely qualitative methodology in collecting and analysing our data. In collecting our responses from a purposive sample of five key informants with knowledge in the research area, we used interviews and documented with voice-recorders and written notes. Our findings were analysed through the grounded theory approach in trying to explain the pattern and extent of efficiency in the civic-engagement modules identified on the field.
The summary of our findings include:
- · We identified that civic engagement processes in Abura fit into certain existing typologies of stakeholder participation. These include the workshop approach, self-mobilization and self-management.
- · We also noted that the limited level of civic participation in the community is fraught with difficulties that arise from the duality of community leadership (indigenous and modern) and this resulted in mixed approaches to fostering civic participation.
- · We noticed the possibility of how women’s choices could be affected by their social associations, in the family and in their immediate households.
- Notable among the findings is also the perceived bypass of effective grassroots consultation by the district / metropolitan authorities. We explain that this could be because of the held perception that such community grassroot-consultations are too cumbersome and protract the progress of government projects; especially the fulfilment of (party) manifestos.
- · We also gathered that the people of Abura were ready to participate in community projects for as long as they felt it benefited them
- · From all the responses, we noticed that development projects were perceived as the provision of community infrastructure.
- · There were attempts to employ some innovative ways of engaging the people but this was faced with challenges of limited financial resources and apathy from participants. The apathy was as a result of the fact that their inputs were being ignored and projects did not meet their requests. It is our view that, this makes such development unsustainable.
We conclude from our findings that there is some level of civic-engagement processes in Abura. However, these processes were not thorough and satisfactory enough to ensure cohesive and sustainable partnership between local government, local community members and leaders. Our finding give strong credence to the fact that when people are neglected by their community or political leaders, they are moved to self-mobilize for self-management
It is our recommendation that when community members are encouraged to effectively mobilize themselves to make up for limited external push for development, it provides a strong alternative to the top-to-bottom central development approach. We also believe that it would be of tremendous research significance to look into how the social ties of women influence their choices in society.