In Ghana, District Assemblies use locally collected taxes (called Internally Generated Funds, or IGFs) to help deliver crucial services such as schools and local clinics to citizens. In 2010, following a revelation of mismanaged funds, the Ghanaian civil society organisation People’s Action To Win Life All-around (PAWLA) launched a project to increase the ability of citizens to monitor the collection of these revenues.
PAWLA developed strategies for tracking and monitoring IGF resources. Regional seminars with trained District Assembly officers and village chiefs, public notice boards, and radio programs all helped raise the profile of how these funds should be managed and increased people’s capacity to monitor funds.
This new management system paid off. In 2011, the Pina community of Northern Ghana, where the project was implemented, raised the highest amount of IGFs in the whole region. The decision-making process became more transparent as the new system ensured that local government officials and revenue collectors met with civil society to disclose the amount of revenues collected and expenditures made and the existence of any leakages of funds.
Pina community relations with District Assembly authorities vastly improved. The authorities became more responsive to community needs, including allocating funds to equip classrooms with furniture and new teachers. Nursing students, teacher trainees and other students successfully demanded tuition funds from IGF. In addition, the community was awarded a new mango plantation from a farm assistance program.
- A bottom-up participatory, collaborative approach to local government budget monitoring contributes to better planning and use of scarce financial resources.
- The involvement and cooperation of local governments is crucial for the success of budget monitoring by citizens.
- Involvement of citizens requires ample information availability to and substantial capacity training of such citizens.
Photo credit: Flixtey