It is a bright Wednesday morning with the sun’s rays glimmering in Segyimase, a small community within the Abuakwa South Municipality. Famous for its gold, Osino, capital of Fanteakwa South District is a town located in the Eastern Region of Ghana along the Accra-Kumasi highway and home to the people of Juaso and Nsuapemso. 19 May 2021 marks another eventful day for the people of these three communities. The people of Segyimase, Nsuapemso and Juaso have gathered for their monthly Citizen Committee Network (CiCoNet) meeting at the Methodist Church of Segyimase. The strong desire to develop their communities has brought together this group of determined people to deliberate on how to improve on their livelihood.

The main objective of CiCoNet is to build the capacities of 60 members from these three communities who would serve as intermediates and whose duty is to help advocate on behalf of communities to see development happening within their communities. Through these meetings, these members would be empowered and acquire knowledge and skills on how to address issues pertaining to the development of their communities, and how to present situations to their local governments when need be. Cognizant of the fact that they cannot rely completely on the Government or Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) for their survival, they have taken this bold step to harness the potential of their communities for progress and development. 

Like all other meetings, they began by reminding themselves of their vision, mission and goals which they had initially developed. This reminder instills in them the strong desire to succeed and propels them towards working hard in achieving their goals. It is also a way of prompting them about their various roles and responsibilities in developing their community.

Figure 1: CICONet members participating in confidence building exercise.

Today’s session which recorded a total of 47 participants, focused on building self-confidence. Participants were engaged in confidence building activities, experience sharing and learning. They were divided into groups and given a task to carry out. To encourage participation, each participant presented the roles they played in ensuring that the exercise was completed. Each group chose a group representative who did the main presentation. Groups graded themselves based on their confidence levels. They also identified the challenges they faced and what they could have done better if they had a second chance.

Figure 2: Presentation of results by a group member

Participants were then given another opportunity to undertake the same activity and were asked to grade themselves again. It was observed,that the level of confidence of participants had improved. 

When queried about what had changed, most participants attributed their improvement to the lessons learnt from the first trial and the desire to get better. Some referred to the slogan “Experience is the best teacher.”

After the exercise, participants were then taken through a talk by the Community Development Officer of ACA, Nana Ama. While making reference to the exercise they just completed, she explained to them the importance of building self-confidence and different ways in which it could be done. She concluded by encouraging them to assist each other as much as possible in this path. 

Giving his impressions about the meeting, George Owusu Asante, Chairman of CICONet stated: “Today’s meeting has encouraged us to be bold and courageous. It has made us to feel more confident and has taught us about unity and love. Now, we have the courage to approach the authorities and present our problems.”

It is therefore very important for these communities to be aware of their rights as well as their roles and responsibilities and the need to hold their local authorities accountable, while honoring their responsibilities. This is a major step in ensuring responsiveness, mutual accountability and sustainable development.