Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Penplusbytes Advocates for the Use of Digital Tools for Citizens Participation in District Assembly Budget Hearings

The free access to information and opinion is a precondition for the functioning of an open, human rights oriented democratic society. To this end, Penplusbytes in partnership with Deutche Welle (DW) is implementing a 12 month project dubbed “Freedom of Expression and Media Capacity Building Project”.

The project which is currently being piloted at Twifo Atti-Morkwa District Assembly in the Central Region advocates the human right to access information and to freedom of expression.  It aims at providing easy and accessible information on allocated budgets and development plans for communities and improve the engagement frameworks between citizens and governments for purposes of effective monitoring of programmes, development and budget appropriation and decision making.

Three other Assemblies which will benefit from this project are Tema Metropolitan Assembly, Ellembelle District Assembly and the Wa Municipal Assembly. 

In explaining what the project will achieve Jerry Sam, Director of Programmes at Penplusbytes said, the project will not only build the capacity of media to better inform citizens about the work of the district assembly, but will also deploy an online platform that enables citizens to monitor and access government information. It will further help with policy analysis, development plans, budgets appropriations, as well as implementation processes at the local government level. 

He states that “The project will bridge the gap between citizens and the local assembly in information sharing, encouraging the district assemblies to use digital tools such as SMS and social media to reach and interact with citizens at the grassroots; particularly in development planning and budget formulation and also project implementation. This will ensure greater participation by the wider population and good governance at the grassroots level.”  

Other activities under the project will include a citizen’s forum, a journalism workshop on best practice on the treatment of information from the districts, a District communication strategy workshop and media training for District officials. 

Penplusbytes is a not-for-profit organization driving change through innovations in three key areas: using new digital technologies to enable good governance and accountability, new media and innovations, and driving oversight for effective utilisation of mining, oil and gas revenue and resources.

DW Akademie is Germany's leading organization for international media development. We support the development of free and transparent media, quality journalism, and also offer programs to boost media skills. DW Akademie has developed into an organization that focuses on wide-ranging, long-term development projects.

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