USAID / Chemonics - Development of a web-based portal for the Ghana's National Biosafety Authority (NBA) to smoothen its operations with other regulatory agencies and promote transparency and efficiency.
To effectively promote communication and information sharing with key stakeholders and the general public, the National Biodiversity Association (NBA) with financial support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), sought to establish a website to smoothen its operations with other regulatory agencies and promote transparency and efficiency. The National Biosafety Authority (NBA) was established by the Biosafety Act, 2011 (Act 831) to receive, process, respond, and make decisions on applications on modern biotechnology activities in the country.
The NBA collaborates with other regulatory agencies such as the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA), Ghana Standards Authority (GSA), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), to ensure an integrated approach to the regulation of modern biotechnology and its products.
Due to the risk of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) on health and the environment, extensive regulatory assessments (i.e. field trips, environmental releases, commercial releases, and transit) were required to provide permits for compliance and safe use of GMOs. The rigorous process required the NBA to adopt a digital information management system to promote effective and transparent collaboration in regulatory processes to conserve biodiversity.
Considering this, in 2016, Chemonics International contracted Bewsys to design and develop a web-based portal to support its regulatory processes. In scoping the requirements for the design and development of the portal, the Bewsys consulting team reviewed the functionalities desired by the NBA in collaboration with the programmatic team.
The web portal was custom-built on the registration, document and library, and integrated content management of the Bewsys Regulatory MIS. The web portal was designed to feature a national biosafety information system for handling requests of GMO compliance and use. This feature was aimed at enhancing collaboration between the regulatory agencies, especially in procedures that require cooperation and information exchange. The web portal was also designed to include a web-based forum and a system for information sharing. In collaboration with the programmatic team from the NBA, the web portal was piloted to ensure the functionality and feasibility of the system.
A digitized administrative mechanism to ensure appropriate handling and storage of documents and data in connection with applications and other matters covered under their jurisdiction has hastened the review and licensing processes.
The web portal has made it easier to collaborate with the other regulatory bodies in reviewing applications for GMO certification. Following the implementation of the website, cassava varieties, maize, and BT cowpea GMOs have been approved in less than the estimated times. The NBA can effectively contribute to improving the agricultural sector in Ghana by reducing post-harvest losses and improving resistance to environmental conditions and chemicals.