Prior to the implementation of the Social Public Expenditure Financial Accountability (SPEFA) Project in Nsawam, Ghana, the town's market women had complained about the unavailability of electricity supply at the market and the poor conditions they had to work in. The problem had existed for almost three and a half years and the women didn't know how to get their concerns addressed by the municipal assembly, so eventually they lost hope in the institution's ability to restore electricity, let alone extend it to the new market areas.
Through the quarterly SPEFA forums organised by SNV and its partner civil society organisations, citizen groups like the Market Women Association were informed about topics such as the district assembly concept and the role of citizens in local governance. The SPEFA platform improved the market women’s knowledge on local governance and boosted their confidence to engage with duty-bearers in order to get their grievances addressed. This was reflected in the kind of questions they posed to assembly officials and other stakeholders during town hall meetings (a component of the SPEFA project that offered citizens the opportunity to directly engage with duty-bearers and ask them relevant questions in relation to the development of the municipality).
It was this increased confidence and improved knowledge on how to hold duty-bearers accountable for their actions that motivated the market women to engage with the assembly officials on the need to bring electricity back to the market. The repeated engagements were eventually successful, resulting in multiple benefits for the community. The restoration of electricity supply has boosted the economic activities of around 800 small and medium enterprises as they are now able to sell after darkness and make additional income. Buyers now have the flexibility to go to the market after work and the place is free from thieves and drug-users who had been invading the market at night for the past years.
“We thank the initiators of the SPEFA Project (SNV) for considering market women as well. Although not all our concerns have been addressed, we are particularly grateful for bringing back our light. We feel safe and secured from thieves now; our stalls shall no longer be broken at night because the market guards can't see who enters the market at what time and for what purpose.” - Emelia Okwei- Market Queen Mother for Yam sellers.