Full Text: CDD-Ghana Releases Report on IPEP
The Ghana Center for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) has made public, its findings on the implementation of the government's Infrastructure for Poverty Eradication Program (IPEP) dubbed the 1 Million 1 Constituency Programme.
The Ghana Center for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) on Wednesday published details of its monitoring exercise on the implementation of the Infrastructure for Poverty Eradication Program (IPEP) dubbed the 1 Million 1 Constituency Programme.
The report chronicled the key factors including field monitoring, execution, community and local authorities’ engagement, the status of projects, assessment as well as accountability.
In 2017, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, through the Ministry of Special Development Initiatives, initiated IPEP, (a new development-bottom-up approach) to provide deprived communities, basic socio-economic infrastructure aimed at reducing poverty and minimizing all forms of inequalities at the local level.
The New Patriotic Party (NPP) in August launched an online delivery tracker, touting its infrastructural achievements since it assumed office.
For instance, the report recommended the separation of IPEP projects from that of party activities, in order that it is not misconstrued as a partisan agenda to enrich some loyalists.
“There is the need to decouple IPEP projects from party programs and ensure that the DAs are not used as a political party vehicle to dispense patronage to individual party financiers, communities, and organizations in a manner that distracts them from their mandate and set them up to fail.”
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Ghana Center for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) Monitoring the Implementation of the Infrastructure for Poverty Eradication Program (IPEP) dubbed the 1 Million 1 Constituency Programme
As part of efforts to reduce poverty in Ghana and promote inclusive growth, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) promised in its 2016 elections manifesto to allocate the Ghana Cedi equivalent of $1 million dollars to each of the 275 constituencies.
The promise dubbed the “Infrastructure for Poverty Eradication Programme (IPEP)” seeks to enhance capital infrastructure provision at the district/constituency level as a means to accelerate growth, create jobs and reduce poverty, particularly in rural and deprived communities.
Upon assumption of office, the NPP Government established the Ministry for Special Development Initiatives (MSDI) in February 2017 to implement the IPEP. It also set up three (3) Development Authorities (DAs) and their governing boards as well as an Inter-Ministerial Oversight Committee.
In addition, the government set up a ten-member ad-hoc committee to undertake constituency infrastructure needs assessment. Subsequent to that, the MSDI in 2018 began selected government priority infrastructure projects across all the 275 constituencies under the IPEP. The government priority infrastructure project includes the provision of the following:
- Solar-powered rural water infrastructure facilities for all the 275 constituencies.
- Mechanized solar-powered ten-seater toilet facilities across all the 275 constituencies.
- Small–earth dams in selected constituencies largely in the northern ecological zone.
- Pre-fabricated grain warehouses in selected constituencies.
Given that poverty reduction programs in the past have been characterized by mismanagement, misapplication of funds, and corruption, and thereby failing to engineer the desired socio-economic transformation to reduce poverty, the Ghana Center for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) in 2017 launched the ‘IPEP Tracker’ project to monitor the implementation of IPEP.
The overall goal of the CDD-Ghana IPEP Tracker project is to contribute to efforts to eliminate corruption by ensuring transparency and accountability in the implementation of the IPEP. The objective of the project is as follows:
- Strengthen the framework and performance of institutions set up to govern the IPEP.
- Eliminate corruption and misuse of public resources by ensuring transparency and accountability in allocation, disbursement, expenditure, accounting, and auditing of public funds.
- Ensure efficient and good corporate management of public funds allocated to the IPEP through sustained monitoring of its implementation between November 2017 and March 2020, CDD-Ghana carried out three (3) field monitoring exercises at the regional level and in 20 selected districts/constituencies spread across all regions.
The field monitoring activities involved conducting key informant interviews with selected stakeholders at the regional, district/constituency, and community levels. Specifically, the team interviewed, the following key stakeholders:
- Regional Coordinating Council (Regional Ministers, Regional Coordinating Directors, Regional Economic Planning Officers).
- Development Authority (Chief Executives of the Development Authorities).
- District Assembly (District Chief Executives, Development Planning Officers, District Engineers, Presiding Members, Assembly Members, and Unit Committee).
- Political Party (Constituency Chairmen, Secretaries).
- Community (Traditional Authority, Ordinary Citizens)
The CDD-Ghana field team also conducted site visits to all of the government priority infrastructure projects undertaken by the MSDI in all the selected 20 constituencies. This report provides a comprehensive assessment of the IPEP in the 3 years of its operation.
The report consolidates two previous reports released in 2018 and 2019 as well as findings from the final field monitoring and value for money (VFM) performance audit report undertaken by CDD-Ghana and the Ghana Audit Service between February-March 2020 in the selected 20 districts/constituencies across the country.
2.0 Key Findings from the Field Monitoring in District/Constituencies.
The findings from the IPEP Tracker report are categorized under four (4) broad headings:
- Level of community involvement and transparency in IPEP project implementation.
- The operational/functional set-up of the Development Authorities.
- Level of inter-institutional/sectoral collaboration and coordination in the implementation of IPEP.
- Status of implementation of government priority projects under IPEP.
2.1 Level of Community Involvement and Transparency in IPEP project Implementation.
Generally, CDD-Ghana observed the following:
- Low community engagement in project selection and prioritization: Decisions are usually taken at the national level and the district level by few officials such as Members of Parliament and District Chief Executives. Further, the communities indicate that the use of local labor was very minimal.
- Minimal or no community involvement in project initiation and implementation at the district level.
- Very low community awareness of IPEP project in the constituencies/district: The majority of informants in the beneficiary communities report of not being aware that the projects are been provided under the IPEP or the $1 million per constituency program.
- Lack of local content in IPEP implementation: Many of the informants complained about the fact that the contractors working on the projects were not from the community and in some cases outside of the region.
2.2. The Operational/functional Set-up of the Development Authorities (DAs)
CDD-Ghana observed the following:
- All the Das are fully set-up with operational offices and functioning boards selected based on the criteria specified in the constitutive DA’s Act.
- Except for the NDA, none of the other two (2) DAs have developed any work/activity program towards the implementation of IPEP and its activities.
- The DAs have started awarding contracts for the provision of constituency-specific infrastructure such as the building of market stores and culverts in the constituencies.
2.3 Level of Inter-sectoral/agency Collaboration and Coordination in the Implementation of IPEP projects
CDD-Ghana observed the following:
- Awareness and knowledge level among key informants (particularly among bureaucrats both at the regional and district level) on IPEP policy has improved, compared to the findings from the maiden CDD-Ghana monitoring report in November 2017. Many of the bureaucrats CDD-Ghana engaged were able to mention some of the policy objectives and the planned institutional arrangement for the implementation of the IPEP policy intervention.
- The government priority projects under IPEP are broadly aligned with DMTDPs. Many of the bureaucratic informants (Planning Officers) interviewed explained that the provision of water and toilet facilities under the government priority projects, construction of boreholes, school blocks, and rural market facilities were in line with needs expressed by citizens during the consultation for the MDTDP.
However, they see the intervention of the MSDI in the provision of these infrastructure projects as duplicating the efforts of the MMDAs and other sectors.
- The IPEP has not been well integrated within the existing planning and project implementation structures at the regional and district levels. There is weak and poor engagement/collaboration between the MSDI, Regional Coordinating Councils (RCCs), and the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) on IPEP.
- There is also a lack of transparency in contract information and other technical documents. The MSDI has not shared contract documents and site plans with the MMDAs so they are unable to hold contractors accountable or provide effective and independent supervision of the projects.
- There is an overreliance on external consultants and contractors to implement projects under IPEP.
2.4 Assessment of Status of Government Priority Projects Implemented under IPEP
CDD-Ghana observed the following:
- There is evidence of ongoing government priority projects under IPEP across all the 20 constituencies monitored. The ongoing projects include the construction of water systems, community toilets, dams, and small earth dug-outs and warehouses.
- The projects observed are at various stages of completion: While some of the community toilet facilities have reached roofing levels, others such as the water facilities and the warehouses have been completed in many of the constituencies. However, some projects have not taken off or appear to have stalled in the constituencies.
- Some of the projects that have been completed, like the toilet facilities and water facilities, have not been commissioned for use by the beneficiary communities.
- There is very limited information on IPEP projects at the project location sites. Apart from the warehouses, many of the projects lack public information boards detailing key information about the projects (funding agency, project design, project completion date, etc.) to enable community/stakeholder oversight and monitoring
3.0 Policy Recommendations
To improve the development impact of the IPEP policy and program intervention, CDD-Ghana makes the following policy recommendations:
3.1 Improve Coordination between MSDI, DAs, RCC, MMDAs, and Decentralized MDAs.
- There is the need for a clearer definition of the mandate/role of the DAs implementation, coordination, or both. Clarifying the role of the DAs is useful for inter-institutional settlement (i.e. who does what?) at the regional and district level with actors/institutions who have similar responsibilities in the provision and management of public infrastructure at the local level.
- There is the need to align the programs and activities of the Das with those of the District Assemblies to avoid duplication of efforts. DAs must begin to develop their operational guidelines and coordination protocols to enable better alignment in respect to the execution of projects, monitoring, and maintenance.
- The MSDI must hand over the government priority projects to the DAs. This is urgent, as the DAs would need to play an immediate role in the monitoring and maintenance of the priority projects.
3.2 Improve Transparency and Accountability in Contracting and Project Execution.
- To ensure that there is value for money, propriety in the design of infrastructure projects, and the impact on poverty reduction, there should be strict adherence to the Public Financial Management Act. This means that responsibility for the execution and contract monitoring must be clearly assigned.
- The MSDI, MOF, DAs must take immediate steps to sanitize the procurement and contract monitoring process. This will ensure that the allocation, disbursement, and usage of the funds are done effectively and efficiently.
- The government and the MSDI must endeavor to share information about IPEP projects, particularly revised processes of execution and monitoring. Political actors like regional ministers and DCEs who currently have more access to information should lead this process of information dissemination.
- As a matter of urgency, the MSDI and the DAs must operationalize their website and provide relevant information on projects, location, the progress of work, cost, etc.
3.3 Citizen Engagement on IPEP at the District and Community Level.
- The success and sustainability of IPEP depend on the extent to which citizens own the projects delivered locally. Therefore, the Ministry must involve community leaders such as traditional authorities, and leadership of sub-districts such as elected assembly and Unit Committee members in the identification of projects, monitoring, and maintenance.
- The MSDI, RCCs, DAs, and MMDAs must work with media houses, NGOs, and community-based organizations to sensitize the public about the IPEP projects and their role in ensuring their effective use.
- Citizens should be given information about IPEP and the work package of the Development Authorities to help secure ownership and foster greater demand for accountability.
3.4 Project Management and Implementation
- Focus on project implementation at pace and scale to the aggregate value. The project interventions under IPEP, when implemented in the pace and scale needed, can have a greater impact on the local economy in a meaningful time-frame. However, the penchant for spreading projects across many constituencies should be reviewed and informed by the topography of need.
- The project completed under the IPEP, such as the toilet and water facilities, should as a matter of urgency be commissioned for use by the beneficiary communities.
- There is still a need to institute regular performance reviews of the DA. Developing a framework to assess the outcomes of the investments under each DA will be essential to the successful outcome of the policy focus of poverty reduction through improved social and human development under the IPEP.
- There is the need to decouple IPEP projects from party programs and ensure that the DAs are not used as a political party vehicle to dispense patronage to individual party financiers, communities, and organizations in a manner that distracts them from their mandate and set them up to fail.