On the Job

After a few weeks of work at the Bole District Assembly, I’m slowly finding my bearings. Here’s my office for the next few months. Specifically, Office 6 on the 3rd floor.

I am working in one of the Central Administrative departments – the District Planning and Coordinating Unit (DPCU). My main colleagues are the District Coordinating Director (DCD, or “Director”), District Planning Officer (DPO, or “Planner”), and the District Budget Officer (DBO, or “Budget”). One thing that’s different than at home is the use of job titles rather than names. You may be walking by and someone says “Good Morning, Environment,” rather than the District Environmental Officer’s real name: Peter.

The DPCU and I will soon be looking at the planning season and sorting through requests from the various departments: Health, Education, Food & Agriculture, Community Development, and others. My main focus lies in researching and assisting 3 areas: Evidence-Based Decision Making (EBDM), Department Collaboration, and Monitoring & Evaluation (M&E).

Before 2009, the various districts (there are about 212 within the country) were operating with different databases spread across different departments. The unit charged with planning did not have access to this information, or it was difficult to understand. Now after many years of work, there are a few districts (6) that EWB has helped to centralize. Information on everything from classroom sizes to the number of chickens in a particular town or area are gathered into one document. This can then be analyzed to determine if a department’s request is valid or could be adjusted.

From the graph I created below, you can clearly see that one area is not like the others. Using data collected in 2011, it shows the contrast between population and outpatient sizes at the various health facilities. There are a total of 6 areas within the Bole district. Three are considered urban: Bole, Bamboi, and Tinga. And the remaining three are considered rural: Mandari, Mankuma, and Jama. I’d be interested in getting your thoughts on why the Bole health facility is seeing many more outpatients that the population it serves. What do you think is causing this anomaly?

One of the areas that I’m still figuring out where I can help add value is in department collaboration. Ghana is still in the process of decentralization, whereby the local government will be given near complete control of the departments in their area. Previously, this work was coordinated from the national level, but has step-by-step given down to the districts. I hope that by the end of my placement, Bole’s Mission Statement will be just a little bit closer to perfection.

From my earlier post, you may be getting a hint of my last area of exploration: Monitoring and Evaluation, or M&E in most international development circles. My past experience in the project management sector has been a great help in understanding this area of work, as it mainly relates to the execution and follow-up of a project. The project may be a school, health facility, borehole, agro-processing center, or a road (as in the photos below).

Two weeks ago, I joined the DPCU and RPCU (their regional counterparts) for a field visit to a feeder road outside Dbogdda. There were men chopping down trees, with women and children clearing the bush, in preparation for the widening of the road. From the work that was already completed, there was a remarkable difference in the performance of the road and the smoothness of travel. The photos below are on the same road, before and after road construction.

I will be adding more stories from work and from home life in the upcoming days and nights. If you have any requests for stories, feel free to put them in the comments section and I will try my best to fulfill them.

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