Mobility Foundation position paper on the challenges and barriers to traditional leader’s participation in planning and policy development at the local government level. Rural policy development is a complex process with many challenges and barriers

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     IMPLEMENTED BY: MOBILITY FOUNDATION FUNDED BY: OSIWA  POSITION PAPER ON THE CHALLENGES AND BARRIERS TO TRADITIONALLEADER’S PARTICIPATION IN PLANNING AND POLICY DEVELOPMENT AT THELOCAL GOVERNMENT LEVELINTRODUCTION Mobility Foundation embarked on Accountability and Responsiveness through effective  participation of traditional leaders in the Local Governance process with funding from Open Society nitiative for !est Africa "OS!A#$ %his means that traditional authorities should  participate in the local governance process in terms of designing& planning of policies or plans and development pro'ects& both at the community& sub(district and districts level$ n addition& it has e)uipped them with the right knowledge& skills and information to engage in and for active involvement in making decisions& to improve accountability and delivery of social services at thecommunity level$ *olicy is a broad concept that embodies several different dimensions$ n a nutshell& public policy seeks to achieve a desired goal that is considered to be in the best interest of all members of society$ *olicy development can be seen as a decision making process that helps address identified goals& problems or concerns$ n short& any given policy represents the end result of a decision as to how best to achieve a specific ob'ective$ For instance clean water& good health& high educational attainment& decent and affordable housing& minimal levels of poverty& improved literacy and high employment etc$%herefore Government and policy makers are beginning to recogni+e the important role traditional authorities can play in planning and policy development at the district assemble level and efforts are being made to allow them to become more involved in planning and policy(making process$ ,owever& despite these efforts& there are still many barriers and challenges that can stand in their way of involvement$ -nderstanding and anticipating these barriers and challenges is important when a traditional authority is getting organi+ed for or involved in policy activity$ %his understanding can help individuals. organi+ations and local government level more effectively impact the policy(making process$ Meanwhile Ghanaian constitutions of Article /0 "1d# in the 2334 5onstitution states that 6Make democracy a reality by decentrali+ing the administrative and financial machinery of government to the regions and the districts by affording all possible opportunities to the people to participate in decision making at every level in national life and in government7$ Also the 8ational 9evelopment *lanning "system# Act :;< and :=3 of 233: and L 231=& the local government "urban& +onal town councils and unit committees# were established by these Acts to implementation of decentrali+ation policy framework in Ghana for the involvement of POSITION PAPER #3 Page 1  citi+ens in their governance at the district assemblies> level$ !hen knowing the plans and policy developed at the district( and sub(structure level are to benefit the grassroots people$ %herefore the interaction between citi+en groups and State actors is a pre(re)uisite to demand for better andmore responsive services by state institutions$Overcoming the barriers and challenges to planning and policy development at the district levels will serve to facilitate the policy(making process$ %his third policy brief aims at highlighting some of the more common barriers and challenges as perceived by traditional authorities at the districts level to the policy makers for active involvement of traditional authorities in decentrali+ation process$ • Lack of involvement and understanding of the policy process by traditional leaders has made it very difficult for their understanding$ And this has leads to lack of accountable and responsible services delivery as well as malpractices and repeating of pro'ects which has implemented in the 9istrict Medium %eam 9evelopment *lans "9M%9*#$ • %raditional authorities have indicated that there is a lack of access to information about government programs and services$ And information available on policy& government  programs and services is difficult to obtain and interpret by traditional leaders$ ?ut traditional leaders have the desire to learn about and access information about government programs and services that is understandable& concise and timely • Another information challenge is the fact that little research has been conducted concerning rural communities and the policy(making process$ Further& this research is often difficult to obtain by traditional leaders in accessing specific information about their community status$ Once again& this information& if available& tends to be difficult to access and may be e@pensive$ •  Absence of traditional leaders Representation in the Decision-Making Process. The traditional leaders express that urban areas tend to have greater representation in the Assembly especially the government appointees than rural areas and these people are mere party supporters at the district capital$ And this is affecting rural development due toneglect of the traditional leaders in their representations at the decision(making process$ • %he relationship between traditional leaders and government is strained by the traditional leader’s  perception that governments do not understand rural issues and impose policies and programs that negatively affect rural 5ommunities$ %here is sometimes not agreement among key policy makers that circumstances in rural communities are problematic and deserving of government action "9oern  *hidd& 23;;#$ Government is also seen as sometimes downloading responsibilities on rural communities without providing the necessary resources "e$g$& financial support& educational programs# for communities to assume these responsibilities$ Further& traditional leaders and their   community members get frustrated and discouraged by re'ections of policy proposals by government and ever(changing program criteria$ POSITION PAPER #3 Page 2  • From their perspective& the attitudes and action of governments have created barriers to working together to affect policy to improve the health and sustainability of rural communities$ Rural community members often perceive government priorities and  programs as detrimental to their community>s health and sustainability$ %hese perceptionscreate a barrier to community involvement in the policy(making process$ • %raditional Leaders also indicated that planning and policy timeline create difficulties for their inputs& when chance given by local government bodies to impact policy around a  particular issue$ Although government may be considering a policy change for a long  period of time& the public consultation process may be relatively short and not allow %raditional Leaders to research and properly prepare to effectively participate$ RECOMMENDATION FOR OVERCOMING CHALLENGES AND BARRIERS TO RURAL POLICY DEVELOPMENT As outlined above& %raditional Leaders and governments face barriers and challenges in developing policy$ Successful policy development will re)uire reducing these barriers and addressing the challenges$ Recently& both government and %raditional Leaders have recogni+ed the need for creating ways to facilitate rural policy development and have taken initial steps toward removing obstacles that hinder the policy(making process$ Some approaches and suggestions that government and %raditional Leaders can use to positively impact policy development at the rural level are highlighted below$ • t is impossible for public policy makers to be aware and knowledgeable of all policy issues$ ?ecause of this& it is necessary to present facts and research that demonstrate rural community issues and concerns deserving of government action$ %his information createsincreased government awareness of rural concerns and gives policy makers greater support when trying to influence rural policy$ As well& rallying supporters& arranging media coverage& and suggesting viable compromises can raise the priority placed on community concerns and increase the likelihood of positive action$ %hese efforts can be even more effective when rural communities and organi+ations work together to develop clear positions around common concerns$ 9eveloping a united voice on wider policy issues and building linkages with groups with common interests can increase governmentawareness of an interest in rural policy development$ • %here is the need to establish programs to facilitate policy(making process for %raditional Leaders and communities$ For e@ample& recogni+ing the need for further  policy research in all the area councils where local government can create *olicy Research nitiative "*R# to build a solid foundation of e@pertise and knowledge upon which sound public policy can be based& with this traditional leaders and their sub'ects can make valuable contribution to policy initiation$ • As noted above& %raditional Leaders often feel frustrated when trying to have their policy concerns heard by government$ %his frustration may be due in part to a structure that seems to limit opportunities for community members to communicate with government$ 5hanging this structure re)uires the development of mechanisms that provides both communities with a voice and government with a means to hear community concerns$ POSITION PAPER #3 Page 3  • %raditional Leaders and government have also recogni+ed the need for increased access to information and knowledge$ Government of Ghana and Ministry of Local Governmentshould initiate 5ommunity Access *rogram "5A*# to increase access to information at the area council>s levels which will aims to provide community members with affordable  public access to information • %raditional leaders also suggested the need for hori+ontal initiatives to provide means to link rural communities and create partnerships with government departments& organi+ations& and agencies$ %his will address the needs& concerns& and resources of the specific communities involved Conclusion n conclusion rural policy development is a comple@ process with many challenges and barriers faced by both communities and government$ Further& there seems to be much overlap between the challenges and barriers faced by communities and those faced by government$ %his suggests that ways to address these barriers and challenges may be most effective when communities and government work together in partnership$ %he position paper by Mobility Foundation are to reduce the barriers and challenges to policy development at both the community and governmentlevels has likely increased government>s understanding of rural community needs as well as increased rural communities> understanding of how they can work effectively with government andB public policy makers$ ,owever& even though progress has been made in reducing the  barriers and challenges to rural policy development& communities and government must continueworking together with the goal of improving the policy process in a manner that meets the needs of rural 5ommunities$  POSITION PAPER #3 Page 4
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