Ghana’s democratic and constitutional progress over the course of the last decade-and-a-half has earned it much praise and support from the international community. These are non-trivial accomplishments, particularly when viewed in the light of the country’s history of military coup d’etats as well as trends elsewhere in Africa. Yet as Ghanaians settle into a hopeful new era of democratic peace and stability, much more needs to be done in order for Ghana to consolidate its democratic gains and for the Ghanaian citizens’ to derived democratic dividends.
OSIWA has had a long term engagement in Ghana and has significantly supported a variety of Ghanaian CSO’s on democratic governance (promoting traditional leadership as a necessary complement to advance democracy in selected communities in Northern Ghana), access to justice (particularly as they relate to domestic violence) legislative reform (advocacy for the promulgation of a right to information law) and economic reform/natural resource management initiatives. However, much more needs to be done, especially in the area of policy formulation, legislative reforms and grassroots mobilization for meaningful participation in order for Ghana to consolidate its democratic gains and for the Ghanaian citizens’ to derived democratic dividends. Within this background, OSIWA’s specific objective in Ghana during this strategy period will aim to facilitate, at all levels, necessary reforms in policies and practices with a strong biased focus on the improvement of governance and implementation of natural resource management policies that can bring about positive economic and social change.
The globe abounds with dismal examples of how oil and gas revenues have disrupted peace, stability and the governance infrastructure in many countries. The discovery of oil in commercial quantities places the country at risk of the ‘resource curse’ syndrome and could threaten the consolidation of the democratic gains. OSIWA proposes to engage/support local natural resource ‘watch dog’ groups in ongoing legislative/policy reform initiatives to ensure the development of appropriate, acceptable, equitable, progressive and transparent framework for the merging oil and gas sector of the Ghanaian economy. OSIWA will work to facilitate the involvement of host communities in the full stretch of natural resources exploration and track appropriate transparency and accountability mechanisms within the machinery of government and public administration to ensure adequate allocations for their peculiar development and protection of their environment. OSIWA will also aim to support active community participation (grassroots/local voices) in local government decision-making and for the effective implementation of local development plans. Lastly, OSIWA will build on its support for ongoing advocacy for the promulgation of a right to information legislation which is an essential part of a well-functioning democracy and good governance.