As a Public Relations Officer, I am the channel through which the Assembly accounts for its citizens. Because of this, I developed a great relationship with the citizens. My main tasks involve speech writing, sustaining the relationships with the media, producing communication materials, mobilising the community and maintain the online channels.
Experience in the Netherlands
The training course with The Hague Academy provided a good combination of theory and practice. The lectures gave us theoretical knowledge whereas the study visits reflected this in a practical way. During my time with the municipality of Rotterdam, I stayed at my host’s house. This was a great experience because I saw how the Dutch family life looks like. My internship was provoking, the municipality of Rotterdam is active in involving its citizens. They implemented various projects in which citizens could express, discuss and even submit their ideas. Their municipal website also has a section with Frequently Asked Questions so that citizens can find answers to their questions immediately. Ga West has a municipal website as well, but it can be improved. During my time in the Netherlands, I gained a lot of ideas on how I can improve it.
Back Home Action Plan
In my contact with the citizens of Ga West Municipality, I have noticed that a lot of them do not feel heard in addressing their issues. The people are disillusioned about the developments in their municipality and do not know how to reach or influence the municipality directly. Therefore, in my project ‘Your Voice, Our Action’ I want to enhance the trust the citizens have in the municipality, only in this way more citizen participation can be achieved.
During my time in the Netherlands, we went on a study visit to the Client Contact Centre in Delft. This visit has enriched my ideas of how citizen participation should look like. In Ghana, we do not have one central location where citizens can go to where they can arrange all their municipal affairs. Yet, I think such a structure is quite essential: the Client Contact Centre is the first step towards the municipality and the starting point of citizen participation. The municipality of Rotterdam has shown me that engaging with the citizens is more than only communicating with them. It is necessary that citizens have the possibility to speak and discuss their ideas about the future of the municipality.