Throughout the history of mankind, we have made a lot of progress. We have achieved enormous improvements in our life span, food security, infant mortality and education. Millions of people have been lifted out of poverty through the years. Economic growth and progress are desirable goals of every societies. Yet, there is concern that the focus on economic growth and the creation of wealth is leaving an unacceptable number of people out of the benefits of human progress. There is stills a large part of the population of the world that still struggle to meet the basic needs of live; food, shelter, cloths and health. This concern for the poor and the under privilege in society is the source of the increased emphasis on development. Conventional market economy feed off economic growth but it also feed off huge economic disparities.
The increased emphasis on development also raised questions about its end goal and the best approaches to achieve it. Effort to achieve development differs from one society to another based on a society’s perception of it. Development is said to be unstructured. It may be conceptualised differently from one place to another. It means different things to different people based on their cultural, environmental and social conditions. While some people see development as industralisation, others see it as the achievement of political and economic independence. Sociologists and political scientists see development as the process of modernization and the transformation of social and political institutions, while economists equate development to economic growth (Harbison & Myers, 1964).
Todaro (2000) believes development must be conceived as a multidimensional process involving major changes in social structures, popular attitudes, and national institutions as well as the acceleration of economic growth, the reduction of inequalities and the eradication of poverty. Certainly, it can be said that no matter how development is perceived, the basic universal conception of development is any process or series of processes that results in increased freedom, dignity, self-sufficiency and prosperity to global citizens.
It is universally agreed that the development of any society depends on its institutions and human resources. Therefore, development efforts must be based on strengthening the capabilities of the institutions and the skills of the human resource. This involves increasing the knowledge and skills of the human resources or the accumulation of human capital through education. This will prepare people to live fuller lives and contribute optimally to the development of their communities and nations (Harbison & Myers, 1964).
According to The UNDP (2009), a country’s success at development hinges on the citizens having sufficient capacity to perform efficiently. He stressed that financial resources, including official development assistance, are vital, but not enough to promote sustainable human development. Moreover, without supportive strategies, policies, laws, procedures, well-functioning organizations, educated and skilled people, countries may lack the foundation to plan, implement and review their national and local development strategies.
There is a lot of emphasis placed on “capacity” in every development effort. The ability of individuals, organisations or systems to perform appropriate functions effectively, efficiently and sustainably (Milèn, 2001: 4). Equally important, is the process of equipping these institutions and organizations with the tools and techniques to undertake the necessary function of production and provision of services in a sustainable fashion. This is at the heart of the development effort in many countries ranging from the individual to the national and supranational levels (Horton, 2002). The aim is to improve the human resource competencies to become able to achieve the goals of the institutions in which they work (Chapagain, 2004).
key to institutional development in any country are the capacity building strategies in place to enhance the capacity of the human resource. Many development related problems in developing countries are linked to inadequate institutional capacity to deal with them. That is poorly managed public institutions; inadequate public sector human capacities in terms of knowledge, skills, motivation and commitment; inability to collect and manage public financial resources; or a dearth of knowledge, innovation, and technology strategies. It also relates to the ability to create an enabling environment for private sector development and full participation of civil society in policy-making processes (UNESCO, 2005).
One area of development that deserves most attention is capacity building for development planning. Good planning gives direction to institutions, civic leadership, businesses and citizens to make meaningful decisions for the long term. It helps determine how best communities can grow into that future, while allowing for essential services to be provided in the near term.
Planning is the rational, adaptive thought applied to the future and to matters over which the planners, or the administrative organizations with which they are associated, have some degree of control, and the only effective means of being prepared to react to the uncertainties of the future. A continuous process which involves decisions about alternative ways of using available resources, with the aim of achieving goals at some time in the future ((Jhingan, 2007, & Conyers & Hills, 1984). Capacity building for planning is aimed at improving efficiency in planning and implementation of development projects. The capacity to effectively formulated and implemented plans that will accelerate development process, create employment, reduce or remove poverty by increasing the per capita income of citizens and the reduction of inequalities in the country (Jhingan, 2007).
In most countries, the quest for appropriate and effective planning systems resulted in the establishment of decentralised system of governance (Oyugi, 2000). Countries adopt the decentralized system of administration with the goal of ensuring developing localities by the people. Decentralization has potential to improve levels of public participation, bureaucratic accountability, administrative efficiency, and responsiveness to local needs, among others. it is a means of limiting the functions of central government and strengthening service provision at the sub national level (OECD, 1997).
The need for a decentralised approach to development in most developing countries was necessitated by a number of factors; the failure of development projects as result of the centralization of state apparatus, increasing rural poverty, the frequent political changes, lack of ownership and interests in projects undertaken at the local level and the demand by international organizations for good governance as a condition for granting loans to developing countries (OECD, 1997).
Africa, and many other developing countries, faces a lot of developmental challenges. This is mainly due to the weak capacity of local institutions and agencies to plan and implement development projects. Decision making powers and resources are concentrated at the national level far removed from local participation. Efforts to achieve the millennium development goals has suffered a lot setbacks due to the lack of a comprehensive approach to local capacity building. Capacity is the missing link; if not given greater attention, development efforts in many of the poorest countries will fail, even if supported with substantially increased funding (OECD, 2006). In Ghana, this problem is even more prominent in the public decentralized institutions. The capacity to handle various technical and managerial actions is less than satisfactory (Ayee, 1994).
When Ghana embarked on a decentralized administrative and development planning in 1988, it was to encourage greater local autonomy and participation and to achieve greater efficiency. It was given a legal backing by the enactment of the PNDC Law 207(1988), and later by Chapter 20 of the National Constitution. This law was again replaced by the Local Government Act, 1993, Act 462. This provided the framework for the establishment of the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC) under Act 479 and Act 480 as the highest institution in the decentralized planning system in Ghana.
Ghana’s decentralization system seeks to give people the responsibility to manage their own affairs with regards to planning, implementation, and evaluation of projects that will lift the quality of life of the people in a locality. Hence, a new decentralised development planning system was introduced in 1994 to strengthened this process and systematically rectify the problems and deficiencies of the old centralised planning system in Ghana (Botchie, 2000). This new system was established with the objective that the political, planning and administrative institutions at the district level, will enjoy popular support of local communities and facilitate the mobilisation of resources for development.
Under this system, the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies have been assigned the key role as managers and planners of the overall socio-economic development of the communities within their jurisdiction (Local Government Act, 1993). The Sissala East District Assembly is one of the 170 Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies established with the responsibility for the overall development of the communities under its jurisdiction. The assembly is to formulate and execute plans and evolve strategies for the effective mobilization of resources necessary to achieve its objectives and goals. It is also to promote and support productive activities and social development in the district and remove any obstacles to initiative and development among other assignments spelt out in section 10(3) of Act 462 (1992).