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Proliferation of New Districts and Constituencies in Ghana: The Mismatch Between Policy Objectives, Outcomes and Impacts

The overall aim of the report was to investigate the extent to which the rationale and mandate prompting the creation of districts and constituencies were fulfilled. The study observed the impact of demarcation of districts on development and the effect of demarcation of constituencies on representation in parliament. Also, an analysis on the possible linkage between creation of new districts and the creation of new constituencies was carried out as a means of observing the presence of possible gerrymandering.

Executive Summary

Demarcation of constituencies in this context connotes the partition of a nation in order for the interests of citizens to be represented in Parliament. In Ghana’s Local Governance context, demarcation in Ghana is purportedly used as a means of dividing the country into smaller, “manageable” units to fast-track the provision of public services to citizens.

Previous studies in other jurisdictions have shown varied effects of decentralisation on service delivery. In Italy, Spain and Norway, Mosca (2016) found that decentralised systems of governance are not necessarily the most efficient means of delivering services, as scarce resources are not always managed effectively. Contrarily, in countries such as Indonesia, Morocco and Thailand, where there is an emphasis on the proper management of scarce resources, decentralised forms of governance are said to have improved local access to services (Smoke, 2001; World Bank 1995; Manor 1999; Rondinelli et al. 1983).

In Ghana, a number of demarcation exercises have taken place over the past two decades, creating both new districts and new constituencies, in, 2004, 2008 and 2012. The creation of districts and constituencies are not supposed to be linked, given that there are separate entities involved and the objectives for their creation are different. However in reality, past occurrences have revealed that both have been created in the same year usually in election years creating an impression that the creation of districts cast their shadows on constituency demarcations. The Electoral Commission of Ghana have the responsibility of reviewing constituency boundaries and can offer the Executive recommendations on the review of district boundaries. Although the connection between creations has led to suspicions in the public sphere of gerrymandering, the Supreme Court have, in 2004 and 2012, ruled that the Electoral Commission was justified in the creation of constituencies and the viability of those new constituencies to contest for 10 parliamentary seats in those years.

This paper assesses three main objectives. The first objective analyses whether the creation of constituencies can/have be/been manipulated by the approach used in creating districts. This was assessed using qualitative research methods and by seeking opinions of experts in the fields of local governance, law, political parties, Civil Society Organisations and the Electoral Commission. Research found that there appears to be a link between the creation of districts and the subsequent creation of constituencies. Perceptions from those interviewed and the general recommendations were that the number of constituencies and/or districts should be maintained or gapped. Also, there is the need to amend some provisions in the law that accounts for the connection between district and constituency creation.

The second objective investigated the possible correlation between development and the creation of districts through two quantitative means. Firstly, regressions were run with data from all 216 districts in the country. The dependent variables were the literacy rate and health, acting as indicators for the level of development. The independent variables in the regression were the population of the districts, the Internally Generated Funds, (IGF) the amount of District Assembly Common Fund they received, an indicator of governance, and a dummy variable, showing the effects on the districts created after 2004. Results of the regression revealed, that while all variables had an effect on development, only IGF and the dummy for the districts created after 2004 were statistically significant in the model used.

The other aspect of the analysis of objective two, case studies of ten metropolitans, municipalities, and districts (MDAs), were used. These MDAs were a mixed sample of those created before 2004 and those created after 2004, 2008 or 2012. Surveys were taken from 200 people in each district, asking for their perspective of the progress made in development in their districts since 2004. Questions related to education and health sectors, and included whether the quality of education had improved, whether access to education had improved, whether health facilities were adequately equipped and whether there had been an increase in the number of health facilities in their area. Secondary data from implementing agencies in the districts, such as the District Education Directorate, District Assemblies, and District Health Directorates, was also collected. The secondary data was used to buttress the opinions of the citizens on the level of development in their communities from 2004 to 2016. The results of the analysis were 11 diverse, with almost equal numbers of respondents agreeing and disagreeing that the quality of education had improved in their districts. A large number of respondents (32 percent) were indifferent about whether the access to education had improved since 2004. For health, the most common opinion of respondents (46 percent) was that health facilities in their areas were not adequately equipped. Based on the data collected for this part of the analysis of objective 2, there is not enough evidence to suggest that the creation of new districts in 2004 led to the perception of increased development.

The third objective of this study analyses the extent to which the Members of Parliament (MPs) of the new constituencies created following the creation of districts in 2004, had fulfilled their mandate to represent their communities. This was measured by assessing whether MPS had successfully lobbied the National Government through Ministers’ question time, the number of public statements they made on the floor of Parliament, and the participation in the Government Assurances Committee, amongst other parliamentary tools. The conclusion of the results of this objective were that it is unclear whether an increase in the number of MPs necessarily improves the quality of representation.

A number of recommendations were suggested due to the results of the study. Firstly, there is a need for more transparency regarding the process of district creation and demarcation. The report also highlighted that there are some grey areas in the law regarding demarcation. This includes the fact that an MP, as an ex-officio member of an MDA, cannot belong to more than one, forces the creation of new constituencies. Since the roles of MPs are not closely linked to the roles of districts, the report recommends that stipulations like this be abolished. Additionally, the Electoral Commission should not feel forced to created new constituencies just because new districts have been created. It was suggested, that since the law does not specifically call for the creation, boundaries should be reviewed and redemarcated if necessary. Similarly, it was also recommended that additional districts need not be created; if the population of a district has grown, rather than dividing it, the district should be elevated to municipality or metropolitan status. Finally, more MPs should be given the opportunity to contribute in the legislative process.


Report by Keshia Osei-Kufuor (IMANI AFRICA), Festus Akuetteh Ankrah (IMANI AFRICA), Constance Ababio (IMANI AFRICA) and Ernest Nii Ashitey Armah (Odekro PI).

With support from Brian Dzansi (Independent Researcher), Patrick Stephenson (IMANI AFRICA), Elvis Ayeh (IMANI AFRICA), Victor Osei Kwadwo (UNU-MERIT), Lolan Segoe -Moses (Odekro PI) and Gifty Mensah (Odekro PI).


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