RIGHTS BASED ADVOCACY
Socioserve-Ghana (SSG) begun our rights-based advocacy work in 2006 under the “Grassroots Economic and Literacy Advocacy Program” (GELAP) which was being implemented by the Social Enterprise Development (SEND) Foundation of West Africa. The purpose of GELAP was to provide economic literacy to poor men and women as well as grassroots’ based, civil society to increase capacity to engage in state actions at the district, regional and national levels to promote proper economic policies and programs for the livelihood.
As the Focal NGO, SSG (then Drama Network) formed and coordinated activities of the Asuogyaman District HIPC Monitoring Committee (DHMC) in order to obtain relevant information required for follow ups and advocacy work in relation to the Programme. The DHMC focused its attention on the award of contracts for Procurement of Goods, Works and Services under the Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy (GPRS) II as well as the implementation of the School Feeding Programme. Various meetings and field visits were organised to assess the tender processes and the school feeding programme. Key findings from the monitoring indicated that Asuogyaman District largely practiced good governance, accountability to stakeholders and distributes resources equitably.
THE WORLD CLASS ACT ADVOCACY PROJECT
This was a 3-year project that engaged young people aged 11-16 years old in global issues with drama workshops and social drama. World Class Act Advocacy Project sought to raise awareness, understanding and knowledge of key development challenges in Africa (poverty and health) among young people in the United Kingdom in order to increase understanding of and empathy towards the challenges facing young people in West Africa. A website was set up www.worldclassact.org for young people and teachers to generate knowledge and understanding of the issues facing people in West Africa. A Teacher Resource is in development that will capture the learning of the project and share ideas, activities and materials for teachers to use in their own classroom practice, allowing the legacy of World Class Act to live on.
THE “GROWING GLOBAL PROJECT”
This was a 3 year DfiD (Department for International Development) funded project targeted at rural primary schools in the UK. It aims to actively explore notions of interdependence through storytelling activities as part of an innovative theatre-in-education programme and continued professional development opportunities for teachers. Based around ideas presented in traditional West African stories, pupils will look at the story of 'The Sky-blue Story-box' and question why it is important that people’s stories are shared around the world. They will first explore notions of identity as an individual, as part of a community and as a member of a wider, global community.
Pupils were taken on an imaginative journey through a dynamic and engaging piece of participatory theatre-in-education that requires them to consider their place in a global society.
EXERCISING VOICE FOR CHANGE
In August 2007, SSG (Drama Network) worked as an Intermediary RAVI Grant Partner (RGP) of a DFID funded project by supporting 5 Partner organisations in selected districts in the Eastern Region to exercise voice and to undertake citizen-government engagement focusing on empowerment, advocacy and other actions to help realize the rights of the poor, vulnerable and excluded. The project had the goal of giving voice to the voiceless and help to increase accountability, transparency, inclusion and participation at the grassroots level.
SSG (Drama Network) supported Partner Organisations by:
- Training them in advocacy, lobbying skills, rights-based approaches, assertiveness, communication for impact, organizational development and financial/accountancy procedures.
- Hand holding Partner Organisations in every aspect of the project.
- Raising awareness of the opportunities and interventions available for the improvement of the livelihoods of the poor, vulnerable and excluded to assist Partner Organisations to raise awareness on such issues to enhance their advocacy work.
- Providing financial support to capacitate them to empower target vulnerable and excluded groups and be all inclusive as they meaningfully engage duty bearers.
- Providing the required training to capacitate them to replicate or scale up similar projects on their own to ensure sustainability when EVOC Project is phased out
PROMOTING THE RIGHTS OF THE VULNERABLE TO INFORMATION (PRIVI) PROJECT
The project focused on communication and information flow on Government’s pro poor policies to poor and vulnerable groups. SSG conducted a baseline to establish the existing community structures involving the poor and vulnerable in pro poor Government policies. SSG employed both quantitative and qualitative methodologies. Based on the findings, a manual titled “Effective Communication for Constituents” A guide for Assembly members in Ghana was developed and distributed to various District and Municipal Assemblies.
The project was funded by Participatory Development Associates and implemented in the Ada East and Asuogyaman Districts
KNOW YOUR MP PROJECT
Know Your MP” Project aimed at ensuring issue based voting and peaceful elections during the 2012 elections. SSG, in partnership with Rite 90.1 FM embarked on parliamentary candidates’ debates in three (3) constituencies; Lower Manya Krobo, Fanteakwa South and Nsawam Adoagyire and peace and tolerance promotion event – ‘Get Involved (GI) Platforms in Six (6) constituencies namely Asuogyaman, Suhum. Ayensuano, Lower West Akim, Nkawkaw and Kade, all in the Eastern
The project was supported by STAR-Ghana with funding from EU, DANIDA, UKaid, and USAID.
OUR VOICE COUNTS PROJECT
Our Voice Count (OVC) implemented in the Asuogyaman District sought to address the exclusion of communities/constituents from the preparation of the District’s Medium Term Development Plan. Opportunities are not created for citizens to participate in and contribute to the development and implementation of these Medium Term Development Plans (MTDP).
District/Municipal/Metropolitan Assemblies are mandated to develop Medium Term Developments Plans for their respective areas through adequate consultation with their communities/constituents. These plans are implemented for a four year period. The guideline, which guides the Assemblies in the preparation of these plans, is developed by the National Development Planning Commission. One critical stage of the process is consultation with the communities including socially excluded groups to identify their needs and priorities to serve as the basis for designing programmes and projects in the plan. However, this rarely happens. Plans that are developed do not capture the priority needs of the communities/constituents. More often than not, few Assembly Members and bureaucrats are assembled to make input on behalf of the entire district during the preparation of the plan. As a result of this exclusion, communities/constituents have little or no knowledge on Medium Term Plans and how they are prepared. There has been low commitment on the part of communities when it comes to the implementation of these plans since the plans do not capture their needs. This was confirmed in a baseline that was conducted prior to the start of the Our Voice Count project.
This project provided the platform for communities and socially excluded persons like women, persons with disability and youth to participate in the plan preparation process. Socioserve-Ghana facilitated the process for communities to develop Community Action Plans (CAPs) that capture the challenges and interventions to address those challenges at the community level. These CAPs were subsequently summed up at the district level which formed the basis of the Medium Term Development Plan.
The project was supported by STAR-Ghana with funding from EU, DANIDA, UKaid.
PROMOTING ELECTORAL INTEGRITY IN GHANA-2016 AND BEYOND
In 2016, Socioserve-Ghana sourced funding from the European Union to contribute to a violent free transparent and credible 2016 general elections in Ghana. The 2 year project commenced in January 2016 and was implemented in partnership with Global Action for Women Empowerment (GLOWA), Development Gateway International (DEGAIN), Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) and Delink Services. It was implemented in 15 constituencies across 5 regions of Ghana- Western, Eastern, Volta, Central and Ashanti.
The project sought to promote accountability and tolerance among political parties and their supporters, by engaging their representatives at the constituency level to renounce violence and cooperate with different electoral stakeholders to resolve election-related conflicts, and by supporting political youth groups to become leaders of peace within their communities. The second objective of the project is to increase the level of peaceful civic participation in democratic processes, by providing electorates with the knowledge, skills and opportunities needed to assess candidates based on policy issues and to make fully informed voting decisions, while supporting them in exercising their democratic rights without fear of intimidation.
Among the major activities implemented in 2016 ahead of the election include;
- Formed and reactivated Inter Party Dialogue Committees at the constituency level, trained and supported them to promote peace and mediate electoral conflict in their constituencies
- Formed and revived existing youth networks, trained and supported them to undertake peace promotion activities and facilitated their constructive engagement parliamentary candidates on youth agenda
- Provided public education on the electoral process targeting most especially women and persons with disabilities
- Held parliamentary debates in 7 swing and competitive constituencies including Asuogyaman, Cape Coast South, Tarkwa Nsuaem, Lower Manya Krobo, Nkwanta North, Effutu, Sekyere Afram Plains
- Trained journalists of 10 radio stations across the 5 regions and monitored those radio stations for indecent language and hate speech on their airwaves name and shame them. The radio stations are; Pure FM, De Beat FM, Nhyira FM, Cruz FM, Thank You FM, Radio Windy Bay, Rite FM, Beyond FM, Victory FM, Bridge FM
Substantial results were achieved at the constituency levels before and during the elections….
- Inter-party cooperation was strengthened and electoral conflicts were resolved at the constituency level. The project made it possible for the IPDCs to be active and visible in their constituencies and have resolved conflicts that erupted before, during and after the elections in Offinso North, Sekyere Afram Plains, and Cape Coast South.
- Political and non-political youth groups collectively renounced violence and promoted peace through youth-led peace activities like games, peace walks and forums ahead of the elections.
- Knowledge of citizens on Ghana’s electoral process has increased in the communities where the educative sessions were held. Women had the opportunity to ask questions about the electoral process bothering their minds. This has brought them closer to government.
- The parliamentary debates provided the platform for citizens to interact with their candidates and for the candidates to share their plans for the development of the constituency as well as respond to questions from the electorates.
- Radio stations under monitoring were more responsible and decent in the language used on their airwaves because those identified as using such inflammatory words were named and shamed.
Major stakeholders who collaborated with us during the year for the implementation include the National Commission for Civic Education, National Peace Council, National Youth Authority and the Electoral Commission. We are grateful for their intense participation and collaboration. We also express our appreciation to the political parties, traditional leaders, MMDAs and local radio stations for their cooperation.
PROMOTING INCLUSIVENESS IN ELECTION 2016
Promoting Inclusiveness in Election (PIE) 2016 was a Nine Months Project implemented by Socioserve Ghana in Partnership with GBC Kaakye FM. The project was implemented in Kwahu Afram Plains North and South constituencies in the Eastern Region and Krachi East, West and Nchumuru constituencies in the Volta Region with support from STAR Ghana with EU, Danida and UKaid as donors.
The project targeted rural and hard-to-reach constituencies on the basis that, they are most of the time left out of the electoral discourse by virtue of their geographical location. In addition, there is little or no meaningful engagement between electorates in these areas and political leaders. Often times they are bribed to vote or incensed to vote on ethnic lines. The PIE project therefore sought to create platforms to enable citizens in rural constituencies to participate freely and fairly in Ghana's 2016 elections.
The excluded citizen groups were empowered to create their own platforms to engage with political party leaders and candidates on issues of concern to them, thereby setting the stage for issue-based campaigning. Inter Party Dialogue Committees (IPDCs) were strengthened to identify triggers of election violence as well as mediate disputes at the constituency level. Leaders of youth groups of political parties, political party supporters and those affiliated to candidates were trained to engage in peace promotion activities and also signed peace pact. State Institutions such as National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), Electoral Commission (EC), Ghana Police services were engaged to provide education on the electoral process and security updates.
Interventions under the project contributed to the achievement of the following results.
- Reduction in the number of spoilt and rejected ballots in project constituencies
- Voting on issues characterised the elections in some project constituencies. In the Krachi East District, where the NDC parliamentary candidate did not participate in the “ Meet your Candidate”/ Debate held, lost to the NPP candidate even though the constituency is noted as a stronghold of the NDC. This was established through radio discussions and remarks from constituents after the elections.
- All 5 constituencies for the first time had the opportunity to assess their parliamentary candidates on one platform ahead of the 2016 elections.
- The “Meet your Candidates”/debates provided the opportunity of bringing the candidates face to face with the electorate to deliberate on issues affecting the constituents, thereby deepening democracy and promoting political tolerance within the constituency
- Policies and interventions of candidates critically analyzed for electorates to take informed decisions
- Knowledge of project beneficiaries enhanced on social and economic issues through the trainings, debates, pre and post-debate discussions
- GESI groups in project constituencies empowered to be assertive
- Generally, no incidences of violence were recorded in communities that benefitted from the project, even in communities indicated by civic groups as having a history of tension and violence during elections such as Dambai, based on which the NDC parliamentary candidate for Krachi East did not take part in the “Meet your Candidate” session. Thus the project contributed to the overall peaceful nature of the 2016 elections.
- The project contributed to ensuring adherence to the rule of law, particularly, electoral laws. This is because aggrieved parliamentary candidates or party members resorted to the appropriate channels to register protests rather than using unapproved ways.
- A total of 8, 216 electorates in 5 constituencies appreciated the need and maintained peace in the 2016 general elections
- The Peace Programs served as a unifying point to bring all political parties on one together. Hardly does one find all the political parties on one stage addressing their supporters but the peace programs brought all the parties together to speak on peace, danced with each other and lighted the peace candle. This symbolizes political tolerance among the parties and their supporters and a mark for deepened democracy.
- The project contributed to building a collaborative relationship among the constituency leadership of the various political parties
The project was supported by STAR-Ghana with funding from EU, DANIDA, UKaid.
DIALOGUES FOR CHANGE PROJECT
The Dialogues for Change project is a two and a half years’ project that worked towards the ultimate goal of making representation of citizens in parliament more responsive and reflective of the needs of citizens, particularly vulnerable groups. The project worked to ensure that parliamentary committees value Parliament-Citizens engagement and adopt it as a mechanism for including citizens’ voices in decision making; mobilize and build the capacity of Community Based Organizations (CBOs)/Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and citizens’ groups around thematic issues (education and health) for engagement with Parliament; create space for Parliament and citizens to interact on issues related to Education policy implementation; and build the capacity of partner organizations for sustainability and future programming, particularly around Gender and Social Inclusion (GESI) issues.
The significant changes chalked by the project is first, it brought women groups, farmers, youth, persons with disability and LEAP beneficiaries face to face with a parliamentary committee. These groups are traditionally left out of the public discourse during policy planning and design but bear the brunt of policies introduced and implemented by Government. Prior to this intervention, there was little or no engagement between GESI groups and Parliament.
Secondly, the project opened up the Committee on Education to new ways of engaging citizens, whereby extensive dialogue is fostered on thematic basis and targeting specific groups such as the vulnerable and the underserved segment of the public. Prior to this project, public hearings conducted by parliamentary committees during oversight visits did not target the vulnerable groups nor and did it allow for meaningful engagement.
Third, for the first time, a Guide on Parliament-Citizens Engagement was developed to serve as a resource for current and future MPs as well as CSOs working to promote citizens participation in governance.
This project was implemented in partnership with NORSAAC and African Centre for Parliamentary Affairs (ACEPA as the LEAD organisation)
The project was supported by STAR-Ghana with funding from EU, DANIDA, UKaid
PROMOTING INCLUSION OF HARD TO REACH AND ISLAND COMMUNITIES IN ELECTION 2020.
This is a one year project which seeks to ensure that that development priorities and issues of hard-to-reach and Island communities are captured in the development agenda of Parliamentary Aspirants and District Assemblies. The project is being implemented in 3 constituencies in the Eastern Region, Namely Asuogyaman, Kwahu Afram Plains South and Kwahu Afram Plains North.
This project therefore seeks to empower these constituencies to engage Parliamentary Aspirants and District Assemblies to ensure their issues are captured in their manifestos and medium term development plans.
Key interventions under this project are
- Capacity building for citizens of hard-to-reach and island communities on the electoral process and their rights.
- Facilitate citizens’ engagement with Election Management Bodies
- Support hard-to-reach and Island communities to develop Community Action Plans (CAPs)
- Revitalise and strengthen Inter-Party Dialogue Committees in the districts to mediate electoral conflicts and prevent violence
DISTRICT ASSEMBLY ANTI CORRUPTION DATA (DAAD) PLATFORM
Socioserve-Ghana in 2020 commenced a project titled ‘District Assembly Anticorruption Data (DAAD) Platform’. The objective of the project was to increase access and uptake of the Auditor-General’s report in addressing issues relating to embezzlement, misappropriation and misapplication of funds of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) in Ghana by anti-corruption crusaders which should lead to retrieval of funds to the state and sanctioning of offending public servants.
SSG implemented this project in partnership with Odekro PMO (an NGO based in Accra) and Maana Consult (an audit firm based in Accra) with funding from Palladium Global PTY Limited (Ghana Branch)
Unfortunately, this project could not run the course due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which affected funding for the project.