In the city of Sekondi-Takoradi in Western Ghana, the Citizen’s Report Card is a new initiative that asks ordinary people to share their experiences of basic government services – from education and healthcare, to the police and public markets.
The issues raised, have been put in city action plans, which are being monitored by Citizen’s Report Teams, consisting of both citizens and government actors. This month, Global Communities, who run the Citizen’s Report Card, reported on how their on-the-ground visits and partnership with the municipal government use this information to bring about real changes in water and electricity services.
Governance-focussed Radio: Our City: Our Say
Funding from Making all Voices Count increases the ability of the Citizen’s Report Teams to follow up on complaints raised in citizen report cards, and to publicly advocate for citizens’ priorities in service delivery through production of a new governance-focused radio programme ‘Our City: Our Say’.
Between March and May 2015, the Water and Electricity Citizen’s Report Team held a series of meetings with representatives of the Ghana Water Company (GWCL) and with the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) – both contracted by the government – to discuss problems highlighted by the radio programme. They travelled with GWCL staff to reservoirs in Effia, Shama Junction and Shama Town to confirm citizen complaints.
Mr. Kwamena Acquah, Communications Officer for GWCL, said:
This is my first encounter with an NGO doing such an initiative to make an impact on service providers and to get us on our toes.
Building Trust with Government Service Providers Key
The Water and Electricity Team report that building trust with government service providers and challenging the idea that citizen monitoring leads to ‘witch-hunts’ has been key to success. The team, along with representatives of the water and electricity companies now communicate regularly through a Whatsapp group, posting photos from their field trips, scheduling meetings and discussing feedback from the site visits to enable more informal, constructive information-sharing.
It’s a mutually beneficial relationship, with service providers getting no-cost and reliable feedback on issues among their service users, and the Citizen’s Report Team are able to provide answers at a community level about service delivery issues.
Global Communities are justifiably proud of the good working relationship and see it as a cornerstone of on-going effectiveness for improving governance both now and in the future.