Echos from the grave yard: Ward development committees and sustainable development


In response to hostile realities, harsh natural conditions and the challenges for stable prosperous existence and survival engendered by every historical epoch, human beings and human society have demonstrated unparalleled capacity and skills for innovation and creativity, manifested, not only in the design and fashioning of tools and instruments, but also in the establishment of multiple, diverse, complex, sophisticated and dynamic institutions of the present times. 

From very simple forms of relations, operations and procedures grew to very complex, multi-dimensional and sophisticated systems illustrated in the various forms of public, private, social and community institutions alike.

The underlying factor responsible for such marveled developments of human society and human beings is the natural instinct for survival and sustained progress, harnessed into well-articulated, organised, systemised and conscious human knowledge over centuries, passed from generation to generation, with each generation learning form what it inherits, enriching and improving on it through practice. 


This fundamental principle constitutes the driving force for the emergence of modern dynamic institutions. The ongoing and unfolding local government decentralisation process is not an exception to this scientific and historically established fact. The need and justification to bring government closer to the people at the local and grass roots level, the prudence in mobilising the active participation of the people in their wards and communities, in the development process of the respective local government areas, the importance of creating the enabling environment and opportunities for the emergence of well-informed and skilled community members capable of being masters of their destiny and to live up to their responsibilities as members of a larger society are the underpinning factors that gave birth to the local government decentralisation programme. 

These factors therefore constitute the main thrust of every local government authority, which makes it imperative for local government authorities to ensure and facilitate the creation of effective and highly functional ward development committees as dynamic and viable community development institutions. Ward development committees must be viewed and embraced as integral components of councils crucial in the struggle for the attainment of sustainable development as well as sustained quality service star delivery by councils.

The indispensability of well-articulated strategic development plans by local government authorities cannot be overemphasised, suffice it to say, it serves as a guiding compass towards a sustainable future desired by all potential stakeholders and partners within a local government area. The design of a local government strategic development plan is however a process that entails a number of stages engagement, commencing with the constructive of various stakeholders, partners and actors in an interactive manner resulting in the formulation of a common and agreeable long term desired reality or dream [vision] that characterises the local government authority. A thorough assessment of the internal and external realities and factors, negative and positive,   favourable and unfavourable, that are critical to the realisation of the desired dream or future. A brief and reasonably general statement depicting how the desired reality or dream will be attained [mission]. Establish its value, goals and objectives, assess its strength and weakness, opportunities and threats critical to the realization of its dreams. Premised on these, a comprehensive programme designed to address key and pressing concerns and issues pertinent to the long term benefit and interest of all partners will be evolved, guided and directed in the implementation process by an action plan. Monitoring and evaluation to ensure focus and the attainment of the desired impact at all stages should be inbuilt all t rough the process.


Mr Dawda Jones was a former National Assembly member from Banjul.


By Dawda Jones