Learning Program

Why a learning program?

The International Budget Partnership and its partners recognize that in order to enhance the effectiveness of our work, it is essential to systematically document our impact and learn lessons from our experience. The overarching goal is to enable a substantial increase in the effective impact of budget work (analysis and advocacy) on people’s lives. In order to improve the rate at which the activities of IBP and its partners translates into the social justice outcomes that we seek, we need to learn more about the intermediate steps to achieving these outcomes. For example:

  • What are the most effective ways to build civil society budget advocacy and analysis capacity?
  • Which advocacy techniques are most influential with policy makers?
  • What kinds of comparative budget research are needed to influence international debates and campaigns?

The work of the Learning Program can be grouped into three components:

1. Self-monitoring systems:

Partners undertake self-assessments that seek to continuously monitor the impact of their work. Organizations formulate a few indicators based on their advocacy strategies and then collect data to see if their strategies are working as planned. If not, they can make any midstream adjustments that may be necessary. Click here for a Guide to Self-Monitoring for NGOs.

2. Case studies of civil society campaigns:

External researchers conduct vigorous, objective studies that document the impact of larger campaigns and coalitions in which partner organizations take part. The goal of this research is to document what budget analysis and advocacy can add to broader campaigns for social change, allowing partner organizations to learn more about when, why, and how certain kinds of civil society budget work succeeds or fails. Examples of case studies include:

  • In the Face of Crisis: The Treatment Action Campaign Fights Government Inertia with Budget Advocacy and Litigation At the turn of the millennium the South African government allocated a total of R214 million (US$28.5 million) to the fight against HIV/AIDS, an epidemic that had reached crisis proportions. Less than 10 years later this figure has risen, in inflation-adjusted terms, to R3.96 billion (US$528 million), a real increase of over 1,850 percent. This study looks at how a civil society organization’s ongoing campaigns for treatment access that combined negotiations with the government, mass mobilization of its members (including civil disobedience campaigns), and litigation contributed to this increase.
  • Tracking Funds for India’s Most Deprived: The Story of the National Campaign for Dalit Human Rights’ “Campaign 789” In India the Scheduled Caste Sub-Plan (SCSP) is a program designed to provide direct benefits to the Dalits, who are considered to be “outcastes” and have faced centuries of exclusion and discrimination. This case study looks at how a civil society campaign undertook sustained monitoring of SCSP funds  and advocacy throughout the policy and budget cycle to identify  misuse of these funds and pressure the government into admitting to diverting these resources and committing to repay the money.
  • Children’s Right to Early Education in the City of Buenos Aires: A Case Study on ACIJ’s Class Action Through a complex litigation strategy that involved “freedom of information” requests, budget analysis,and media dissemination, the Civil Association for Equality and Justice (Asociación Civil por la Igualdad y la Justicia, or ACIJ) pressured the formerly reluctant government of the city of Buenos Aires, Argentina, to acknowledge a legitimate unsatisfied claim related to school vacancies for initial-level education and commit to making significant policy changes. This case study examines the ACIJ campaign and draws lessons for civil society engagement in public finance processes.

View more case studies here »

3. Cross-national comparative research:

This approach is useful when international findings can reinforce national campaigns or when comparative findings can contribute to international advocacy.