Brendan Halloran, Senior Fellow, Strategy and Learning, International Budget Partnership— Aug 17, 2017
In civil society budget activism, there is rarely a shortcut to realizing rights and achieving tangible improvements for the poorest and most marginalized people. Meaningful steps toward more inclusive and effective governance means going beyond openness to navigating and reshaping politics. For IBP and our partners, this presents a great opportunity, particularly in the increasingly challenging contexts in which we work.
by Dustin Kramer, former Deputy Secretary General, Social Justice Coalition, Cape Town— Jul 20, 2017
For the past two years, the Social Justice Coalition (SJC), a social movement based in Cape Town, South Africa, has used budget analysis and advocacy as a tool to campaign for decent sanitation in informal settlements. IBP worked with SJC to undertake research and analysis of Cape Town’s municipal budget in support of the broader advocacy campaign. Initial research uncovered extremely low spending — less than 2 percent of the water and sanitation capital budget was going to informal settlements, even though informal households make up over 20 percent of the city’s population. Faced with this injustice, SJC began to view the budget process as a set of political moments and institutional processes through which the campaign could move.
Brendan Halloran, Senior Fellow, Strategy and Learning, International Budget Partnership— Jul 11, 2017
In Kenya, IBP and its partners seek to support inclusive engagement in the budget process. Yet outcomes have been mixed. This has forced civil society advocacy groups to learn and adapt their approaches, sometimes after investing significant time and effort in a seemingly promising avenue of engagement. Such is the case with the work of Kerio Center and the Uasin Gishu Disability Forum to ensure resources in the Uasin Gishu county budget for persons living with disabilities.
by Nikhil Dey, Social Activist, Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS)— Jul 06, 2017
When fighting for equity and social justice — or good governance and accountability — politics matters. When the political environment shifts, one step forward can quickly turn into two steps back without vigilance and an eye open for opportunities. In India, the government’s attacks on social programs brought many CSOs and social movements together to fight to preserve the progressive policies that they had helped establish. This essay from IBP’s 2016 Annual Report details how sophisticated mass-based protests, bolstered by sharp analysis by independent budget experts, helped protect the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme.
By Jay Colburn, International Budget Partnership— Jun 20, 2017
The budget approval, or enactment, phase of the budget cycle is when the Executive’s Budget Proposal is submitted to the legislature, where the members may then debate, alter, and approve the final budget. Frequently, it is at this point that the key issues in the debate over the budget are established. Because this process culminates in the enactment of the final budget law, this is often the point when media attention is greatest, offering CSOs valuable opportunities to advocate for their issues.
By Ryan Flynn, International Budget Partnership— Dec 01, 2016
Public service delivery is complex, and problems are rarely confined to a particular school, locality, or government institution. But a myopic focus on isolated service delivery problems risks mistaking the symptoms of accountability breakdowns for the causes. The solution? We need to start doing accountability differently. Reformers need support to forge diverse coalitions that are able to navigate this complexity and drive change. But what does this look like in practice? Two recent IBP case studies documenting the work of Support for Advocacy and Training to Health Initiatives (SATHI) and Samarthan in India provide some insights.
By Brendan Halloran, International Budget Partnership— Oct 25, 2016
There’s been a slow-dawning realization among open governance advocates that pushing for more inclusive and accountable governance requires a much deeper engagement with politics. As a community, promoters of open governance have often sought short cuts around the messiness of political dynamics. Or they have understood the need to address politics but struggled to adapt their tools and approaches. Yet there is mounting evidence that initiatives that fail to grapple with the political dimensions of this work have not been as effective as they could have been.
by Jonathan Fox, School of International Service, American University— Sep 01, 2016
Civil society advocates have long argued that greater transparency leads to greater accountability. Put more information in the public domain and it will be used to hold governments to account. Yet the causal chain between transparency and accountability may be only as strong as its weakest link. While a steady stream of evidence from the mushrooming domain of transparency and accountability initiatives show progress on information disclosure, traction toward greater accountability has been quite limited. That’s without even addressing the challenge of shrinking civil society space. Yes, “it’s too soon to tell.” But the challenges of civil society organizations using government information to improve accountability appear to lie deeper.
by Rebecca Warner, International Budget Partnership— Aug 18, 2016
Safe, clean, and adequate sanitation services are essential to basic quality of life. The provision of such sanitation services by the City of Cape Town in South Africa has long been a huge concern for residents of Khayelitsha and other informal settlements surrounding the city. The Social Justice Coalition and Ndifuna Ukwazi used budget analysis to rally residents to tackle the issue of inadequate sanitation facilities through the City of Cape Town’s budget process. Their successful budget advocacy campaign involved educating residents on how the City manages water and sanitation services, analyzing the budget, and a layered training of trainers, which allowed the campaign to extend the reach of its limited resources.
By Delaine McCullough. International Budget Partnership— Jul 26, 2016
Over the years, IBP has documented civil society campaigns that have combined budget analysis with other advocacy tools to improve how public money is managed and how public services are delivered. One such advocacy tool is strategic litigation. Taking the government to court can, however, be a risky and resource-intensive endeavor, so why do it? Well, in many cases litigation can be an effective way to get parties that disagree over how to use public resources to clearly state their positions before a forum. And, in light of the disturbing recent trend of government efforts to close political space for civil society, litigation may often be the most viable option for CSOs seeking social change.