Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Civil society must investigate huge payments to consultants



BY EDMUND SMITH-ASANTE

Mr Ibrahim Musah presenting the evaluation report
Mr Ibrahim Musah, Head of Policy and Partnerships, WaterAid Ghana, a non-governmental organisation in water and sanitation, has urged civil society to investigate allegations of huge disbursements of funds meant for sanitation projects to consultants.

He has however prevailed on civil society organisations to do research into those district assemblies that were pointed out and be able to do budget tracking of those resources, and establish whether much of the money actually went into consultancy and what percentage, before drawing any conclusions.

In an exclusive interview after an evaluation of a five-year governance and transparency fund (GTF) programme and its impact on Ghana recently, Mr Ibrahim Musah said before that could be done however, civil society needed to understand the nature of the programme for which there were accusations of the payment of huge monies to the consultants.

“If you don’t understand the nature of that programme and you are commenting, you can be misled because people were commenting highly because of the sanitation challenges that Ghana is facing; that a country with just 13 per cent access rate is spending so much of sanitation money on consultants. But again you need to arm yourself with the evidence,” he cautioned.

Mr Musah who granted the interview after his presentation at the 39th National Level Learning Alliance Platform (NLLAP) organised by Resources Centre Network (RCN), said “If that money was actually spent on consultancy as opposed to providing sanitation facilities and services, that is quite unfortunate but again like I said we need to go deeper.”

Background
According to a publication of the Daily Graphic on proceedings at the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament (PAC), dated October 8, 2013, “Large sums of money allocated to five metropolitan assemblies in 2010 under the Second Urban Environmental Sanitation Project (UESP II) were used to pay consultants rather than for the project.”
GTF Fund
The five-year Governance and Transparency Fund programme, which ended with WaterAid Ghana in September 2013, started in 2008 and was funded by UKAID, formerly DFID.
It covered 14 countries, with 28 CSO partners and NGOs and in Ghana WaterAid facilitated the Coalition of NGOs in Water and Sanitation and the Association of Water and Sanitation Boards (AWSBs) to implement the programme.
According to Mr Ibrahim Musah, the GTF programme sought to build the capacity of CONIWAS membership in governance and accountability to ensure they had the right institutional structure to do their advocacy and influencing.
He said it also sought to build the capacity of community-based organisations, water and sanitation management teams and water user committees, to be able to hold duty bearers at the community, district and national level accountable so that they could be able to implement national policies to benefit poor people.
Mr Musah stated that although there was largely very good delivery on the programme, the evaluation conducted by WaterAid pointed out areas for improvement such as the strengthening of capacity of civil society organisations.
“The programme examined how well communities were structured in monitoring water and sanitation services, and how well governance structures of civil society organisations were in influencing government policies in respect of water, sanitation and hygiene,” he disclosed further.
Transparency
The WaterAid in Ghana Policy and Partnership Head said the programme also sought to bring out structures that could be built to influence transparency and accountable governance in the communities and empower communities to hold water boards accountable in respect of the revenue generated from their activities and facilities under their watch.
He thanked UKAID, CONIWAS and AWSBs for supporting the entire process and making it successful.
Writer’s email: Edmund.Asante@graphic.com.gh
FACTS
·         DFID, now UKAID, created a £130 million Governance and Transparency Fund (GTF) to address some of the pressing issues of the society.
·         The fund has been designed to help citizens hold their government to account through strengthening the wide range of groups which can empower and support them.
  • More than 400 civil societies, media and other organisations throughout the world expressed interest in the fund when it was announced.
  • After an extensive appraisal process, 38 organisations were selected for funding in 2008. Their activities currently cover an extensive range of governance issues and can be linked to more than 600 local organisations in over 100 countries.

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