Public Expectations in Local Governance: Unit Committees under Ghana’s Decentralised System

  • Gabriel Botchwey
Keywords: Governance, Decentralisation, Public Services Delivery, Unit Committees, Ghana


Effective democratic governance requires the existence of locally elected  representatives with functions that revolve around issues that matter to the  constituents, to which the state responds through public services delivery. This  study set out to examine whether or not citizen expectations from locally elected  representatives are in consonance with the functions that are assigned to them in  national legislative instruments, using the Unit Committees, the base structure of  Ghana’s decentralised system as a case for close examination. The study was  conducted through qualitative semi-structured interviews, covering four districts in the central region of Ghana. Findings show that there are several points of  dissonance or asymmetry regarding what local citizens expect from their  representatives, the functions assigned by the national statutes, and what the local representatives have actually being doing at the local level. Fundamentally, local citizens expect their elected representatives to be involved in addressing pertinent public services delivery deficits, but statutory provisions allocate functions that many Unit Committees are not even aware of, or cannot simply perform in their current state. These disparities, coupled with lack of training, funding and disregard for the role of local representatives account for their largely comatose existence under Ghana’s decentralised system. To remedy this situation, greater space is required in the crafting of legislation to allow local realities to take centre stage in the functions assigned to locally elected representatives in local governance, and to establish a sustainable funding system to support their role.

Keywords: Governance, Decentralisation, Public Services Delivery, Unit Committees, Ghana


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eISSN: 0855-6768