A GNA feature by Dennis Peprah
Sunyani, Jan. 07, GNA - The role of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) including the media is critical to effective economic governance at the national and sub-national levels.
CSOs and media advocacy in the country have been characterised by weak collaboration and poor harmonisation to strengthening efforts to demand accountability from public officials.
These weaknesses are sometimes attributed to inadequate policy literacy and capacity among journalists, civil society actors and citizens, particularly at the local government level.
There is an apparent weak appreciation of policy issues which affect the manner in which journalists and CSOs analyse, and frame community and policy issues for public deliberation.
Consequently, weak capacities have undermined responsible journalism, civil society activism, and developmental governance primarily at the local government.
GJA/STAR Ghana Project
To this end, the leadership of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) has sought funding from STAR Ghana and is implementing an 18-month project aimed at strengthening media and CSO collaboration for inclusive and accountable local governance in the country.
Under the project titles “enhanced media-CSO partnerships for Inclusive local governance”, the GJA in partnership with civil society actors will carry out integrated set of media interventions in order to foster and strengthen the seemingly weak collaboration between the two institutions.
Strategically, such interventions will drive the vehicle of demanding effective social accountability from duty bearers at the local and national levels.
According to a statement issued by the GJA and signed by Rebecca Ekpe, the project coordinator, the media and CSOs collaboration is expected to contribute to enrich citizens’ access to quality information through structured media platforms and CSOs outlets.
Journalists and CSOs are expected to build capacity on critical local governance issues such as the constitutional review processes of the District Assembly election, proposed election of Metropolitan Municipality and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs), as well as the creation of new regions/districts.
It is anticipated that the intervention will position media-CSOs to gain further insights into the political-economy of Ghana, especially at the local level and frame issues from informed perspectives to influence advocacy, policy-making and implementation.
The assignment will also enhance the quality of CSOs activities by offering them a structured media platform to increase the spread of sharing success stories from community projects.
This will increase their capacity, engagement and lobbying skills to demand inclusive local governance and accountability from duty-bearers.
GJA anticipates that the project will contribute to improving citizens’ access to information on public policy-making and implementation, and add value to the livelihoods of citizen, especially the vulnerable, marginalised and socially excluded persons in the communities.
Undeniably, the role of the media in the political economy of Ghana cannot be underrated as the media is expected to inform, educate, provide platforms for public debates and deliberations, and serve as watch-dog to ensure good governance.
This mandate is reiterated in Chapter 12 of the 1992 Constitution.
There is an exponential growth of the traditional media over the last two decades in the country and this is a positive sign for press freedom and democratic governance.
To consolidate the gains of Ghana’s fledgling democracy, it is extremely important to ensure that the media development will contribute meaningfully to translate GJA’s mandate into shaping public policy-making and offer balanced and a-political platforms for public policy engagement.
The growth of the traditional media has also been intensified with the emergence of citizens (new) media which has become an important mouth piece in the information supply chain, and therefore have significant impact on the information within public domain.
The role of the new media (social media) in the media spaces can positively impact or otherwise on the contents published and its democratic responsibility of the GJA to contribute to shaping public discourse both at the national and local levels.