Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

School of Politics and International Studies

Research Student: Dr Gabriel Botchwey

Community Development, Decentralisation and Social Change: Experiences from Ghana

Photo of Dr Gabriel Botchwey

Overview of Research Project

This research project sets out to explore the intersecting issues that mediate the interactions between the state at the local level (decentralised government) and citizens in communities, taking Ghana as a country case-study, with critical theory as its foundation. The decentralised state engages with citizens in specific locations in communities, creating an interface between decentralisation and community development. This citizen-state engagement is mediated by issues which include power relations, information, accountability, capacity, participation, democratic deepening and service delivery (Narayan, 2002; Brinkerhoff and Azfar, 2006), which are also shared grounds or intersections in community development and decentralisation.

In critical theory, the deprivations, inconsistencies and contradictions that people face in their daily lives are the locus of change, which is conceptualized as a continuous dialectical process to attain better quality of life (Taylor, 1993: 48-51; Freire, 2005:92; DeFilippis, Fisher and Shragge, 2007). Critical theory is operationalized within a framework of questioning the answers or policies (in this case, decentralisation and community development) that are put forward as solutions to problems, and by locating the root causes of deprivation and disadvantage in people’s lives in order to tackle them to achieve desirable social change (Ledwith, 2005). Drawing upon these, the study will:

  1. explore the views and experiences of people who have been involved (as well as those not involved) in collective action for development purposes in communities, with reference to the intersecting issues in community development and decentralisation;
  2. identify patterns that create constraints and synergies through analysis of their experiences;
  3. examine how these patterns impact on collective action, local development and social change that affects systems and structures beyond individuals and groups.

This study will investigate, for example, how access to information can affect the power of citizens to exercise their democratic rights, to participate in governance and to demand accountability and better services. It will explore how the various intersecting issues affect each other, learn how constraints develop and synergies are generated, and how these impact on development processes and activities.

Why I chose Leeds:
'The University of Leeds has a healthy institutional ambition to be among the very best in the world; this motivates staff and students to break their comfort zones, creating a stimulating environment for academic pursuits'

Educational history: Masters Degree, Development Studies, Institute of Social Studies, The Hague, Netherlands; Post Graduate Diploma in Education (First Class Division, CGPA:3.6), University of Cape Coast, Ghana; BA (Hons, First Class, FGPA: 3.81) Religions and Sociology, University of Ghana.

Training: Statistical Literacy and Implementation of the Millennium Development Goals (organized by Ghana Statistical Service and UNDP, 2006); Project Formulation, Business Plan Preparation and Financial Modelling, 2004 (organized by World Bank-IFC, SNV and Empretec Ghana); Preparation of Marketing Proposals, 2002 (organized by ILO/FIT); Project Proposals and Report Writing Skills, 2001 (organized by Institute of Adult Education, University of Ghana).

Research history:
1. Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise Survey, as research coordinator, for ILO / Ghana Decent Work Country Programme, Central Region, Ghana, June-July 2007 (Sponsored by DFID and ILO).
2. Survey of Common Health Problems in the Agona District, Central Region, Ghana, for HERONET, (2006-2007).
3. Microfinance Baseline Survey, (2005) for FIT Ghana, Accra.
4. Deepening Community Democracy: Issues for Theatre for Extension Communication Programme, (2005), Civic Foundation, Accra.
5. Small Business Associations and Collective Action, Masters Research Paper (2002-2003), Institute of Social Studies, Netherlands.
6. Health Insurance and Small Business Associations, as team member (2001-2002), FIT Ghana, Accra.
7. Job Quality Issues of micro and small enterprise (MSE) operators, as principal researcher (2001-2002) FIT Ghana, Accra.
8. Occupational Health and Safety issues among MSE operators in Accra, as principal researcher (2001) FIT Ghana, Accra.
9. Micro Insurance Studies for the Self-employed and Small Enterprise operators for IFP/SEED, as team member (2001-2002), FIT Ghana, Accra.
10. Radio Listener Survey for ILO/SEED in Ghana, as team leader (2001), FIT Ghana, Accra.
11. Small-Scale Mining operators working conditions, as principal researcher (2001) FIT Ghana, Accra.
12. Effect of Child Labour on Academic Performance of Pupils, Graduate Diploma Dissertation (2000-2001), University of Cape Coast, Ghana.

© Copyright Leeds 2016