Strategies in Using Budget Work to Improve Maternal Health

by Rebecca Warner, International Budget Partnership— Jul 14, 2016

Two IBP case studies, one from Tanzania and another from Uganda, examine civil society campaigns to engage governments and hold them to account in providing maternal health care to their citizens. Both feature the advocacy work of the White Ribbon Alliance (WRA), an informal coalition of NGOs, donors, and their global partners dedicated to achieving safe and healthy childbirth for all women. WRA’s chief strategy has been to hold governments accountable by mobilizing citizens to demand decent healthcare for all pregnant women. Yet the coalition used two quite different approaches to push for improvements in maternal healthcare in Uganda and Tanzania.

What Are We Learning About How to Engage with the Executive?

by Jessica Taylor, Program Officer, IBP South Africa; John Kinuthia, Program Officer, IBP Kenya; and Jason Lakin, Country Manager, IBP Kenya— Jul 07, 2016

Productive, collaborative relationships with the executive are crucial to effective civil society budget advocacy. What is called “the executive” actually comprises a complex mix of political and technical leadership, and members of the executive derive their legitimacy from various sources. This essay from IBP’s 2015 Annual Report looks at what we are learning from our experiences in South Africa and Kenya about the nature of working with the executive.

International Budget Partnership Budget Accountability Ecosystyem

What Are We Learning About Ecosystems and Social Change?

by Albert Van Zyl, Director of Strategy and Learning, IBP; and Paolo de Renzio, Senior Research Fellow, Open Budget Initiative, IBP— Jun 22, 2016

By documenting civil society budget campaigns, and the oversight systems in which they are conducted, IBP has become aware of the need to adjust our assumptions about civil society budget work and its impact. More specifically, we need to shift beyond a narrow focus on building the technical skills and knowledge of CSOs to influence the executive arm of government to a more holistic approach that recognizes the complementary roles of different actors in what we have come to call the accountability ecosystem. This ecosystem, in which budget processes are embedded, encompasses a number of institutions and organizations above and beyond civil society and executive government.

Shackled Auditors, Toothless Legislatures: Why Government Oversight is Unable to Deliver Budget Accountability

By Vivek Ramkumar, International Budget Partnership— Jun 14, 2016

Supreme Audit Institutions (SAIs) are crucial government bodies that verify whether public money is being used effectively and lawfully, and assess whether the fiscal information being produced by governments is complete and reliable. Since 2006, the Open Budget Survey has sought to measure the role and effectiveness of SAIs and their contribution to more accountable budgets. In this blog we examine the strengths and weaknesses of oversight institutions based on the data from the Open Budget Survey 2015.

Fiscal Policy, Austerity, and Human Rights in Latin America

by Rebecca Warner, International Budget Partnership— Jun 08, 2016

Economic downturns often leave governments with substantially reduced revenues at the same time as they face increasing demand for public services by those affected by the crisis. Too often governments in this situation will choose to curtail spending in an effort to control public-sector debt, an approach that can have significant consequences on the poorest and most vulnerable. Such budgetary decisions and their effect on marginalized communities are strictly bound by international human rights law. The question of how austerity measures have threatened human rights in Latin America was discussed in April 2016 at a gathering of civil society representatives and officials from international governing bodies.

The Art of Citizen-Led Accountability: Five Take Aways from the World Bank’s Global Partnership for Social Accountability Forum

By Brendan Halloran, International Budget Partnership— Jun 02, 2016

The World Bank’s Global Partnership for Social Accountability (GPSA) partners’ forum held in May 2016 was a space for discussing how civil society can influence government accountability and a chance to reflect on our evolving understanding of relationships between citizens and the state. This post elaborates on five key points drawn from the discussions at the GPSA forum and the International Budget Partnership’s experience with citizen-led accountability.

pesacheck for public finance fact checking

Pesacheck: Building a New Media Culture in Kenya Around Budget Stories

By Jason Lakin, IBP Kenya country manager— May 26, 2016

Accountability can only come from people and organizations consistently monitoring what the media reports and pointing out when stories fall short of the facts. That is part of what fact-checkers around the world do. It was with this in mind that Code for Kenya and IBP Kenya teamed up to create Pesacheck, Kenya’s first fact-checking service for local media sources. The service will examine public finance stories and produce and publish weekly fact-checking reports and catchy data visualizations to shine a bright light on areas where the media could do better.

budget transparency and participation

How to Bridge the “Participation Gap” in Government Budgets

By Paolo de Renzio, International Budget Partnership— May 17, 2016

Government budget transparency has historically received a lot more attention than citizen participation in the budget process. Yet budget transparency alone is not sufficient to bring about positive change. Civil society organizations need to be able to use fiscal information to put pressure on governments, which often happens through institutionalized participation channels. If there are few avenues for participation, budget transparency may end up being irrelevant. On the other hand, participation without transparency risks being ineffective if demands and debates around budgets are based on limited information. What can governments do to improve this “participation gap”?

What Civil Society Should Know About How Governments are Disclosing Budget Information Online

By Paolo de Renzio, International Budget Partnership, Jorge Romero Leon, independent researcher, and Fundar’s Diego de la Mora and Liliana Ruiz— May 09, 2016

When governments first started publishing documents online, budget analysis still required searching large PDFs and patiently compiling the data for analysis. But more recently, with increasing emphasis on fiscal transparency and citizens’ right to information, things got even easier. Many governments are now using so-called “transparency portals” to host large amounts of budget data in machine readable formats. How widespread are these changes? What are some of the emerging good practices? And how can civil society organizations (CSOs) best take advantage of this new opportunity to enhance budget accountability?