Date: February 22, 2010, 11:28 am


ISODEC, PARTNERS EXPLORE HIV/AIDS IMPACT ON LOCAL GOVERNANCE


The Integrated Social Development Center (ISODEC), in collaboration with the African Democracy Institute (IDASA) of South Africa and the Centre for the Development of People (CEDEP), is embarking on three exploratory researches on HIV/AIDS in Ghana.

Under Idasa’s Governance and AIDS Programme (GAP), the groups will specifically try to understand HIV and AIDS induced political, social and economic exclusion, track the disease’s expenditure and its impact on local government in Ghana.

The Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund are supporting the programme which aims at contributing to the construction of AIDS-resilient democratic societies in Africa. Resilience implies the capacity of an individual / community to cope and bounce back from a crisis and to resist the future negative effect associated with the crisis.

At a day’s stakeholders’ meeting in Accra on the upcoming research, the three institutions said the ultimate goal of the researches is to generate evidence that could be used by policy makers, politicians and different stakeholders in the HIV and AIDS arena to promote societies that were accommodative of all disadvantaged people and were resolute in addressing their challenges.

According to Ms Phoebe Machere, Head of HIV/AIDS and Local Government Unit, GAP of Idasa, GAP aims to promote an increased participation among ordinary citizens in all spheres of life, namely social, economic and political.

She noted that unearthing and fighting political, social and economic exclusion against those living with or suspected of having HIV and AIDS was one way of enhancing participation while at the same time promoting adherence to citizen’s human rights.

“It is imperative to realize that democratic forms of governance based on human rights more often thrive on popular participation and legitimacy and can be undermined by poor participation.�?

In a brief history, she said IDASA was established in 1987 to assist South Africa in transition to democracy from Apartheid and that the organization’s role in this research would be to analyze the adequacy of HIV and AIDS funds and assessed the utilization by different players at the local government level.

“All are affected by the pandemic as the potential impact of AIDS on democracy is enormous. Its impact on economic productivity is high. The political culture is also affected since infected people will withdraw from political life. Can democracy be sustained in an era of this pandemic? �? she asked. She said GAP was therefore launching the multi-country study to identify the relationship between HIV and AIDS in the focus countries. 

Selected districts for the research are Kwaebibrem, Manya Krobo, Ketu, Kwabre, Wassa West, Asikuma-Odoben-Brakwa, Techiman, Wa and Bole.

In his opening remarks the Director of Programmes at ISODEC, Dr. Zakaria Yakubu, stressed that HIV and AIDS was not only a health concern but a development issue as well which must be dealt with. He noted that in Ghana there seemed to be conflicting percentages of HIV carriers.

He said it was imperative to track HIV and AIDS resources at the local government level right from sources of funds to beneficiaries.

In a presentation on identifying the relationship between HIV and AIDS and the fragility of local government structure in Ghana, Ms Ama Blankson Anaman of the Center for Budget Advocacy (CBA) of ISODEC disclosed that the study was devised from prior research conducted in six countries-Namibia, Malawi, Zambia, Tanzania, Botswana and Senegal-that provided an empirical link between HIV and AIDS and electoral systems. She said Ghana was selected on the basis of low prevalence and applicability in West Africa.

“The South African study suggests that HIV and AIDS could affect the effectiveness of decision makers due to prolonged illness leading to absenteeism from public office; the fear of rejection by constituencies, leading to self exclusion, and the repeated vacuums that come with the deaths of local councilors on a regular basis, which might result in delayed decisions or replacement by less experienced candidates.’’

Among the major objectives of the research in Ghana, according to Ms. Blankson-Anaman, included the gathering and provision of empirical evidence on how local governments were coping with HIV and AIDS, provision of tools to assist local governments to plan and manage the HIV/AIDS among their own staff and also promoting citizens’ participation by contributing towards the strengthening of democratic societies across the continent.

 She said the methodolgy to be employed would be focus groups discussions in selected districts, all male as well as female groups, HIV and AIDS positive groups, one-on-one interviews with councilors, Electoral Commission, administrative and political staff of the district, community based organizations and other relevant stakeholders and secondary data. It would also involved the collection of mortality data relating to bye-elections and their causes as a proxy covering two periods; the period before AIDS was reported and the period after it was officially recorded.

Mr. Daniel Chachu of CBA / ISODEC corroborated the key issues that were earlier raised adding that the research would also deal with the availability of national and local HIV and AIDS policies and strategic plans, budget system at the local level, basic information on local government health budget, sources of HIV and AIDS funds, trends and ratios for allocations and actual spending on HIV and AIDS, adequacy of funding and efficiency in spending and the beneficiary perception.

He cited transfer of key staff and lack of proper records, getting full year actual spending, level of disaggregation of financial data and delay in release of data as some of the anticipated challenges.

However, he said stakeholders will receive training on the use of National AIDS Spending Assessment (NASA).



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