THE provision and access to basic but essential public services by the local communities continues to remain poor in the country despite the introduction of the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) way back in 1995.
The CDF is meant for the establishment of capital investments which include road construction, upgrading of existing infrastructure with the aim of improving communal access to social services using the bottom up approach to social planning and administration.
But sadly, introduced as a tool to help ease the delivery of public developmental goods and services directly to the local communities, the CDF has been misused leading to constituencies lagging in development.
Thus the warning over the use of the CDF by government is once again timely as there has been rampant abuse of the funds meant to implement development projects in various sectors such as health, education and agriculture.
Many at times there have been reports of serious misuse of these resources that has characterised the utilisation of CDF across the country and not only Southern Province and it is the expectation of the citizenry that the abuse would be a thing of the past.
It is high time that the local authorities entrusted to handle these funds channel the resources to the intended projects and ensure that there was total accountability, management and utilisation of public resources.
It will be important for the local communities to be at the centre of determining their developmental priorities in line with local challenges that need urgent attention and not what the authority desires to do without engaging the people.
There is need to seriously involve traditional leaders who need to be partners in development as they command respect and would play a key role in spearheading developmental initiatives at local level where the authorities do not have representation or know much about the needs and wants of the people.
There must be prudent use of these resources so that the people in these constituencies could be availed with health facilities, clean water and sanitary services.
Persons entrusted to handle these funds must ensure that the deliver to the expectations of the people by empowering the vulnerable through provision of capital for entrepreneurship projects.
It is important to note that CDF is basically the life blood for economic activities in the constituencies and particularly those in rural areas.
This would therefore call for the local authority to ensure that through prudent use of the funds it increases projects and economic activities as this will in return create jobs that would greatly benefit of the locals.
It is also expected that by developing the various constituencies through infrastructure and other projects, the areas become more attractive to investors.
But this would call for quality assurance in the projects being implemented using CDF and any other funding under the local authority so that there is value for money.
The local authority should ensure that there must be timely delivery of all goods and services procured using CDF so that people could benefit without any reservations.
However this will require a lot of information to be shared especially that there are low levels of public knowledge and access to information about the allocation and usage of the CDF because this makes it difficult for them to facilitate the monitoring, evaluation and sustainability of these projects.
Because the low levels of understanding how the CDF works, this has left the door open for abuse by people in positions of influence.
But if well utilised, the CDF has great potential to be an effective tool for community development as it can help advance access to services to local communities by channelling public funds directly to local communities to be utilised on projects identified by the community.