By Adesuwa Ero, 2nd year MDP student
Without a shred of doubt, data has the potential to direct and drive how government resources are allocated and used. It is also widely agreed that data is useful in supporting meaningful development plans. An important aspect of my work with People’s Dialogue in Ghana was assisting with community profiling and mapping through the application of Geographical Information System (GIS) tools.
Especially in this part of the world, accessing current and accurate community specific data can be very challenging, making development efforts and government actions sometimes slow, ineffective with minimal impact. For far too long, there has been a persistent disconnect between communities and their respective local and state governments due to the absence of working data to help drive appropriate development, culminating into poor governance measures and an uninformed populace.
|Adesuwa facilitating a community consultation session with Bukom community for a solar energy project|
An important component of the community enumeration, profiling, and mapping that we carried out is the broad and deep community involvement in the process. This process allows for the application of participatory rural appraisal techniques such as the use of transects, venn and polarization diagrams in identifying available public services, flood prone areas, eviction prone areas, community natural resources etc. Capacity building workshops are another essential part of the work, especially when dealing with the non-literate sect of the population. This is done to enable community residents learn and participate in the actual process. This has translated to high-level community appropriation of the process, and a more politically informed populace.
|Community youth learning how to use a GIS tool in collecting data for their community enumeration|
The value of inclusive decision-making is, therefore, pertinent to greater success. It could lead to increased grassroots participation in local governance, increased government accountability, more people-centered policies, improved public services, income generating opportunities for youth, encourage partnership with local businesses and NGOs, and more representative leadership.