International Development Planning Review

The role of district capitals in regional development: Linking small towns, rural–urban linkages and decentralisation in Ghana

International Development Planning Review (2005), 27, (1), 59–89.

Abstract

Ghana's decentralisation programme involves the strengthening of district capitals (defined in this paper as small towns) as focal points for the socio-economic development of districts. Few studies have, however, been done on the role of district capitals and the linkages between these centres and their hinterlands as a basis for evaluating the effectiveness of the strategy. This paper provides a conceptualised and analytical model for examining the role of district capitals and rural–urban linkages in regional development in Ghana. The model is operationalised using two district capitals in the central region as a case study. The paper identifies four critical factors in operationalising the model: small towns' production and service functions; proximity and accessibility to higher-order centres; national macro-economic policies; and the impact of Ghana's decentralisation programme. It concludes that the desired goals of the strategy can be achieved by a genuine decentralisation policy and supportive district development policies formulated at the national level.

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Owusu, George