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NGO designs mobile platform for citizen participation in local governance

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Mobile appSavana Signatures, an ICT-focused NGO, has designed a mobile platform called the “Citizens’ Request Dash-board,’ which helps District Assemblies and their people to interact and share opinions on development issues.

The Citizens’ Request Dash-board is a mobile platform hosted at District Assemblies by which citizens can interact with the assemblies and share their opinions via phone calls and text messages, to participate in decision-making.

The platform also allows Assemblies to send messages to their people about development issues they are handling.

It forms part of the Mobile for Social Inclusive Governance (MSIG) Project piloted by Savana Signatures in four assemblies, with the goal to influence government policy and planning by increasing the participation of women, youth and persons with disabilities (PWDs) in local governance.

The four assemblies where the project was piloted within the last year were Tamale Metro, Savelugu/Nanton, Yendi and Wa Municipalities.

Mr John Stephen Agbenyo, Executive Director of Savana Signatures (SavSign), said Assemblies where the project was piloted had indicated that it was cost-effective to use the platform, compared to travelling to communities to reach the people for their opinions or through the town hall assembly meetings.

Mr Agbenyo was speaking at an orientation meeting for staff of some District Assemblies in the Northern Region in Tamale, organized by SavSign, to sensitize them about the Mobile for Social Inclusive Governance project and the need to adopt the platform.

The District Assemblies included Central Gonja, Kumbungu, Tolon, Sagnarigu and Gushegu, where the project is earmarked to be implemented.

He said the mobile platform also makes it easy for marginalized groups to get information without having to rely on others like assembly members, and to get feedback on surveys thereby keeping themselves updated on the activities of the assemblies.

Mr Agbenyo said the platform also provides opportunity for District Assemblies to reach a larger population of the people irrespective of their status in society than they usually do during town hall meetings, and to gather the opinions of marginalized groups on development issues at a lower cost and time compared with the community level meetings.

In view of the platform’s effectiveness, Mr Agbenyo said Savana Signatures was working to secure funds to expand the project across all Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies in the Northern and Volta Regions.

He called on telecommunications companies in the country to make it their corporate social responsibility to ensure that all text messages on the platform are free to enable all to participate in the process to ensure sustainability.

Mr Simon Peter Aziabah, Assistant Development Planning Officer at Central Gonja District embraced the technology saying it would ensure effective data gathering including helping to reach a lot of people to participate in decision making of the District Assemblies.

Source: GNA

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