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Decentralised planning and ‘scales’ of participation: an analysis of multi-scale bottom-up planning in Ghana

Okrah, M. (2018) Decentralised planning and ‘scales’ of participation: an analysis of multi-scale bottom-up planning in Ghana. PhD thesis, University of Reading

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Abstract/Summary

This thesis explores how participatory planning interacts with spatial scale processes to translate decisions at a lower scale into decisions at a higher scale in Ghana. Decentralised participatory planning and decision-making have become important way of creating space for inter-scalar decision-making practices across three spatial scales, namely the unit committee, area/zonal council and district assembly. This thesis seeks to understand what the mechanisms of participatory planning at the unit committee are, how participatory decisions at the unit committee are incorporated into district-wide decisions and the rationales for translating unit committee decisions into district decisions. For this purpose, I developed and use a Multi-Dynamic Socio-Spatial Connectivity (MDSSC) framework of analysis. Conceptually, this thesis is focused on participation and spatial scale and I conducted case studies of unit committees, area/zonal councils and district assemblies as scales of decentralised participatory planning in Ghana. The unit committee scale of study involved three mechanisms of participatory planning namely stakeholder sensitisation workshops, community forums and public hearings at Amanchia, Pasoro, Esaase and Mmorontuo unit committees. Using primary sources of information such as interviews and focus group disccusions, I show that with the exception of community forums, none of the mechanisms of participatory planning had been implemented. I extend my analysis to also explore the reasons for inability to implement stakeholder sensitisation workshops and public hearings and the consequent impact on active participation in unit committee planning. The findings suggest that financial and time constraints, local political influence and delay in the issuance planning guidelines by the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC) are fundamental to non-sensitisation and lack of public hearings in this case. In the area/zonal and district assembly studies, I investigated how plans of the unit committees were translated and harmonised at the area/zonal council and district assemblies. Using secondary sources of information, I tried to illustrate the procedures established to undertake harmonisation and prioritisation of development needs at the area/zonal council and district scales. I also used information from in depth interviews and focus group discussions to analyse the realities of harmonising and prioritising unit committee plans into district plans and how these were shaped by singular/plural senses of scale in harmonisation, harmonisation with scale jumping, bringing power into harmonisation and harmonising of scaled networks of connection. The findings highlighted that there was district-focused harmonisation with limited opportunities for active engagement of sub-district scales’ actors in the harmonisation process. The findings also bring into light the rationales for harmonising unit committee plans into district plans namely politically-induced lobbying, decision-making with experience, technical feasibility and decision choices and spatial implications. The district-focused harmonisation was found to be less sensitive to the scalar relations among the units, area/zonal and district scales, leading to the formulation of district medium term development plans (DMTDPs) with less attention to their scalar expressions. In the light of these findings, I argued that there was loss of scalar consciousness, which was operational within a scaled decentralised context of planning. Going beyond revealing the evidence of the loss of scalar consciousness, the study also illustrated the factors that are instrumental in giving rise to loss of scalar consciousness. Key among them are scale jumping with limited interaction, relationally weak networks of flows, and a weak sense of scaled spaces with strong political interests operating in planning and decision-making.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Chettiparambil Rajan, A. and Arnall, A.
Thesis/Report Department:Henley Business School
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Henley Business School > Real Estate and Planning
ID Code:80305

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