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Use of social media platforms for citizen-local government dialogue ends

BY: Biiya Mukusah Ali
Mrs Ursula Owusu Ekuful — Minister of Communications
Mrs Ursula Owusu Ekuful — Minister of Communications

The Ghana Strengthening Accountability Mechanisms (GSAM) has organised a two-day forum on the effective use of social media platforms for citizen-local government dialogue on capital projects for metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies (MMDAs) and GSAM’s civil society organisations (CSOs) in the Ashanti and Brong Ahafo regions in Sunyani.


The GSAM is a social accountability project which seeks to strengthen citizens’ oversight over capital projects to improve local governance transparency, accountability and performance in 100 districts of the country.

The project is an intervention, with the aim of increasing citizens-assembly interactions and citizens’ access to information on MMDAs capital projects and support evidence-based advocacy on bottom-up oversight through targeted campaigns using social media, the radio, billboards and the press.

The GSAM is a five-year project, established in 2014, funded by the USAID and implemented by three consortium partners, namely CARE International, Oxfam and the Integrated Social Development Centre (ISODEC).

Forum

The forum was aimed at creating a platform for CSOs and district assemblies to share experiences and learn about the use of social media platforms for citizens-local government dialogue on capital projects.


It also sought to share insights into how CSOs and district assemblies could improve on the use of social media platforms to share information on capital projects and enable citizens to voice their concerns and experiences on capital projects in their various districts.

The Communication Specialist of the GSAM project, Mr Mohammed Nurudeen Salifu, took the participants through the identification of appropriate social media platforms, how to make effective use of those social media platforms and how to monitor evaluate and report on the use of social media.

The participants were expected to demonstrate improved knowledge and skills in the use of social media platforms for citizen-government dialogue on capital projects.

Update on assemblies projects

Speaking to the media after the forum, the Chief of Party of the GSAM Project, Mr Clement Tandoh, urged the various assemblies to use their platforms to update and educate citizens on the activities of the assembly, including how the DACF and other taxes collected by the district assemblies from the citizens were used.

He explained that because the assemblies failed to render accounts to the public, citizens had the impression that their taxes and share of the District Assemblies Common Fund were misused by the assemblies.

Mr Tando said it was as a result of this situation that the GSAM project was organising zonal forums for CSOs and district assemblies on the effective use of social media platforms for citizen-local government dialogue on capital projects.

He expressed worry about the increasing abuse of the use of social media platforms created for the assemblies to report on the citizen-assembly relationship and development projects.

According to Mr Tandoh, some assemblies rather put out irrelevant and unrelated information about development projects.

He said the GSAM and its partners were working hard to educate the public through workshops and other forms of meetings to educate them on the need to make good use of the various social media platforms.

Mr Tandoh said platform administrators of the assemblies had been advised to caution their members to refrain from posting irrelevant information on their platforms.