Published: 31 Oct 2016 Source: University Relations Office (URO)
Professor Kwasi Obiri-Danso, VC (left), Exchanging Pleasantries with Staff of Local Government Service
From the beginning of next year, local government, especially assemblies, will play a critical role in development. As such 65% of the nation’s resources will go to local government if a bill before parliament is passed.
Dr. Callistus Mahama, head of the Local Government Service, made this known when he launched the District Assemblies Enabled Programme for Accelerated Economic and Social Development at the District Level, a partnership between the Local Government Service and Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) at the University.
With the new bill more resources will be given to local authorities to promote local development. The government of Ghana and its development partners will distribute resources to address three areas namely, national level policy making, capacity building and service delivery.
Dr. Mahama said that over the years, local authorities have had a major challenge in tackling education, health, sanitation, planning etc, and called on KNUST with its experts to help the assemblies through the partnership. He noted that challenges confronting Ghana could best be tackled with technology and there had been efforts in that direction at the national level but it was his view that local authorities should be the primary beneficiaries of science and technology which should be brought to their doorsteps to ensure development.
Professor Kwasi Obiri-Danso, the Vice Chancellor, indicated in his welcome address that following the restructuring of Ghana’s local governance system and adopting the District Assembly concept with the main purpose of accelerating development, much had been achieved in terms of self-governance and development at the local assemblies. However, the local assemblies were still confronted with challenges which needed to be resolved such as the improvement of education, security, water and sanitation, social infrastructure and how to raise enough revenue for development.
Professor Obiri-Danso said it was against this background that the competence of the assemblies needed to be enhanced to put them in a better stead to initiate and manage development projects and programmes by sourcing appropriate and sustainable funding for their programmes.
He noted that KNUST, in view of the wide array of expertise at its disposal, could provide the needed platform for knowledge upgrading and skills training for the District Assemblies. “It is, therefore, very appropriate that the Local Government Service (LGS) is partnering with us to build the capacities of the Assemblies, community entrepreneurs and the youth to effectively source and manage funds for the enhanced development of our Districts,” he added.
In this respect, he revealed that a team of experts, with areas of specialisation cutting across all areas of concern for the MMDAs had been put together at KNUST. The KNUST team had been interacting with Assembly leaders and a road map for assisting the Districts had also been developed to help in identifying the specific competency needs of the Assemblies through a needs assessment programme to aid in the development of appropriate training regimes to enhance the knowledge and skills of Assembly members in applying for local and international grants for development projects.
In his presentation on “Why Community Engagement”, Professor William Oduro, Dean of the International Programmes Office (IPO), stated that though engagement was key, the researcher was currently more focused on research and publishing efforts due to promotion requirements, which had created a big gap between research conducted and community needs.
Professor Oduro noted that KNUST was now responding to community needs and making an impact, per its mandate, vision and mission. He gave examples of community engagements from the Building Stronger Universities (BSUII) project, which included improving the quality of farm-made tilapia feeds in the Ashanti Region, integrated aquaculture and agricultural outreach, interactions with industry at various levels and improving locally fabricated stoves and ovens for efficient energy use and clean environment at Suame Magazine.
Other community engagements by KNUST includes improving the shelf life of processed cereal-based foods by cereal processing companies, improving honey and beeswax production and market channels and the development of a KNUST-Academia linkage database with stakeholders for effective engagement.
Professor Oduro noted that community engagement benefitted academic institutions because it made them relevant and visible. It also benefitted faculty, students, government, private partners and industry.