From Plan to Action: The Co-Creation Process in Sekondi-Takoradi Metropolis
To sustain the benefits of the OGP initiative under its local pilot program, the Sekondi-Takoradi Metropolitan Assembly (STMA) and its civil society partners prepared its second local action plan, comprised of potentially high impact open government commitments. This action plan – to be implemented from 2018 to 2020 – was prepared through a rigorous participatory process involving all relevant stakeholders in government, civil society, and the private sector. All in all, almost 1,200 citizens directly engaged during the four-month co-creation process, including marginalized groups, like persons living with disabilities and people living with HIV.
Through the OGP Multi-Donor Trust Fund, managed by the World Bank and awarded to “Friends of the Nation”, STMA developed its action plan through a series of activities in three phases:
Phase I: Taking Stock, Stakeholder Mapping, Building Synergies for a Smooth Kick Off.
During this phase, STMA formed a nine-member working team for the co-creation of the action plan, comprised of representatives from all sectors, who reviewed the 2017 Local Action Plan and set out the initial goals for the 2018 co-creation process. A 40-member Multi-Stakeholder Forum (MSF) was also created with representatives from local government and public agencies, the private sector, traditional council, community champions, civil society partners, religious leaders, and vulnerable groups.
Phase II: Building Capacity, Stakeholder Consultations and Brainstorming Sessions.
To broaden the understanding of OGP principles and the co-creation process as we create space for dialogue and participation, we organized consultation meetings with the MSF, communities and vulnerable groups, using semi-structured questionnaires. Twelve community engagements were conducted consulting over 1,141 people in ten communities and vulnerable groups (people with disabilities and people living with HIV/AIDS). The MSF and 20 selected community champions also participated in a training on social accountability and advocacy tools to improve local governance and public service delivery.
Phase III: Turning Citizens’ Priorities into Concrete Commitments.
The MSF identified and aligned citizens’ input and priorities as part of the efforts from the government and civil society organizations to develop plans to sustain engagement on OGP and discuss the draft action plan. The action plan was then validated through a workshop and submitted to OGP.
STMA seeks to adopt smart governance tools in the second action plan that would ensure open, transparent, participatory, innovative and transformational governance with the vision of building sustainability in the structures of the metropolis, command the trust and confidence of the citizens. Areas worth mentioning are the Assembly’s localization of the Sustainable Development Goals in this action plan; the unflinching support of state and non-state actors on using the OGP in advancing the Agenda 2030 and the introduction of Impact Evaluation of these commitments to be conducted by the Behavioral Insights Team.
The Multi-Stakeholders Forum validated and approved five key commitments for the 2018-2020 OGP Local Action Plan, but I’d like to highlight the three I think will have the most impact in STMA:
- Commitment 1: Transparency and Accountability in Public Infrastructure. This commitment can shed light on the delivery of public infrastructure projects through the Information Platform for Public Infrastructure (IPPI) portal. Disclosing information on public infrastructure and allowing citizens to monitor implementation would be a powerful tool in preventing corruption, shoddy works and misuse of public funds and in restoring public trust in government
- Commitment 2: Civic Participation & Fiscal Transparency. STMA recognises that opening its doors to citizens’ inputs could have positive impacts in improving governance and service delivery outcomes. By increasing civic participation in local governance and democratic processes we can ensure that citizens are involved in decisions that actually affect them and empower them to hold duty bearers accountable. Increased transparency and active community engagement in policy discussion and decision making can enhance the responsiveness and accountability of local government. This will also ensure that citizens partner with the government and other service providers in a manner that promotes good governance and community ownership.
- Commitment 4: Access to Information – (Communication and Feedback). This will create a centralized communication platform and outlet to increase proactive disclosure and establish common open data standards across all departments. This has the potential to narrow the information gap between government and citizens, to break down bureaucratic points, to improve the accountability of public services, and to ensure judicious management of public resources. Establishing the “Civic Engagement Platform” can enable active engagement between government officials and communities in real time (monitor and evaluate service delivery, corruption, response times, failures and success). The platform will strengthen the local sphere of government, improving service delivery, more specifically putting people first.
All the commitments outlined in our action plan are very exciting considering the mission of Sekondi-Takoradi which seeks ‘to improve the living conditions of the people of the metropolis through the provision of sustainable socioeconomic development and good governance that is responsive to the needs of the people’. If well implemented, these commitments can have a big impact in people’s lives – particularly those commitments that focus on transparency and accountability in public infrastructure delivery and public service delivery – and open the government back to the people.