Case Studies

Our case studies investigate how civil society organizations and coalitions can support active and inclusive citizen engagement in budget processes, influence positive reforms, and hold governments to account for how they are raising and spending public money. Our research includes how civic actors navigate the fiscal governance system to drive improvements in budget processes, policies, and accountability. Our case studies place the highest value on rigor, impartiality, and strategic insights. When producing them, we work with external, country-based researchers, who study the links between civil society advocacy activities and government decisions and practices with regard to budget process or policy.


Dancing with the System: Samarthan’s Efforts to Strengthen Accountability in Rural India

For more than a decade, the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGA) has promised the possibility of dignified employment to India’s rural poor. Yet this bold program has run into the realities of powerful interests and weak oversight. With support from IBP, the civil society organization Samarthan has worked to strengthen implementation and accountability for MGNREGA in Madhya Pradesh. In doing so, Samarthan has made use of multiple tactics and tools. But the organization has also had to navigate a complex and fragile accountability ecosystem and find ways to strengthen it at the same time. Is Samarthan’s work only addressing the symptoms of the problems with MGNEGRA? Or is the organization helping to address the root causes of structural inequality? This case study speaks to these questions through brief exploration of Samarthan’s recent efforts.

strengthening accountability in rural india
Without a Will, Is There a Way? Kenya’s Uneven Journey to Budget Accountability

In Kenya’s Uasin Gishu County, the government responded to the demand of an organized group of citizens living with disabilities for improved services by dedicating significant resources to this issue. IBP partner the Kerio Center supported the citizens group in engaging the government through several formal channels to ensure these resources were best used to meet their needs. Still, the government ignored their petitions, which is symptomatic of situations across Kenya’s new county governments, in which formal mechanisms for citizen involvement in budget processes exist, but there are few incentives for government to make these channels meaningful forms of engagement. This case study explores these issues further.

Kenya's Uneven Journey to Budget Accountability
Budgets that Exclude: The Struggle for Decent Sanitation in South Africa’s Informal Settlements

For nearly a decade, the Social Justice Coalition (SJC) has been working to realize the rights of marginalized citizens of Khayelitsha, a community on the outskirts of Cape Town, South Africa. Over the past several years, the group has focused on dignified sanitation, advocating for the provision of adequate and permanent infrastructure rather than the proliferation of temporary toilets that have been the city’s preferred approach to the issue. As the sanitation issue has become increasingly visible and so more political, revealing the deep exclusion still prevalent in post-Apartheid Cape Town, SJC has had to navigate a treacherous landscape of engagement with authorities. Analyzing the municipal budget and mobilizing citizens to engage in the budget process has grounded the group’s advocacy in something specific and concrete and has enabled them to maintain a clear focus on their goal. This case study demonstrates that pro-reform actors need to develop diverse capacities, strategies, and approaches in order to navigate what is often a weak accountability ecosystem.

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Ukraine: Combating Corruption Disguised as Charity

This case study describes how health advocates in the Ukrainian city of Poltava created the Institute of Analysis and Advocacy (IAA) to take on entrenched corruption in the provision of local healthcare. IAA’s campaign targeted different levels of government and links in the service delivery chain, from individual hospitals to the national legislature. Reformers undertook a variety of complementary tactics to uncover and document corruption, lobby for change, and address the root causes of corruption in the healthcare system.

Combating Corruption in Ukraine Case Study International Budget Partnership
Ukraine: Light of Hope’s Work Improving Social Services For Marginalized Groups

This case study documents how Light of Hope, one of Ukraine’s largest and most successful non-state service delivery organizations, established the Poltava Social Adaptation Center, a facility that delivers a complex array of services to ex-prisoners, drug users, people who are HIV-positive, and the homeless. Light of Hope garnered an unprecedented level of support from the city government for the center, including funding from the city budget. In the process, the organization also challenged the stigma surrounding marginalized groups.

International Budget Partnership Case Study Ukraine Social Services
Honduras: The Fragility of Gains in Budget Transparency

Honduras once stood out as example of how rapidly improvements in budget transparency could be made. In 2012 IBP praised the country for the exceptional gains it made on the Open Budget Index (OBI), when its score jumped from 11 in 2008 to 53 in 2012. Yet just a year later, amidst a period of troubled politics, the county suffered a series of setbacks that led to a tightening of the executive’s grip on the budgetary process and to freedom of information being restricted. This was reflected in its OBI score in 2015, which fell to 42. This case study examines the background to the rise and fall of budget transparency in Honduras.

Honduras: The Fragility of Gains in Budget Transparency
Taking an Ecosystems Approach: Support for Advocacy Training Initiatives’ (SATHI) Public Health Work in India

The state of Maharashta is one of India’s most powerful economic engines. Yet despite India’s commitment to the principle of universal access, the state government spends less than 4 percent of its budget on health. Support for Advocacy and Training to Health Initiatives (SATHI) has been working to improve healthcare in Maharashta for almost 20 years. This case study documents the strategies and achievements of SATHI and its coalition partners, the impacts of CSO interventions on public health delivery and accountability, and challenges that have emerged.

case study public health india
Taking an Ecosystems Approach: Samarthan’s Work on Rural Poverty in India

Despite years of strong economic growth in India, rural poverty still affects tens of millions of households. In 2005, the government created the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) to address rural poverty. The scheme, which commits the government to providing adult members of rural households with 100 days of paid work, should provide a revolutionary safety net for rural households. Yet corruption, insufficient administrative capacity, a lack of awareness among many rural inhabitants, and manipulation by influential political and economic actors have undermined it. Samarthan, an organization dedicated to pursuing more inclusive development in the state of Madhya Pradesh, has worked to realize the scheme’s potentially transformative promise. This case study summarizes their approach.

india samarthan case study
Argentina: Enforcing a Legal Victory for Universal Access to Education

This case study recounts the Civil Association for Equality and Justice (ACIJ) campaign in Argentina to push the City of Buenos Aires to comply with its legal obligation to provide free public education to children between the ages of 45 days and five years. Responding to a breakdown in the formal mechanisms for monitoring government compliance, the ACIJ lobbied both the executive and the legislature, took further legal action, and mobilized public support through the media and other advocacy efforts. While the campaign is ongoing, ACIJ has already managed to secure more places for students, better spending on infrastructure, and a new system of online enrollment.

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Palestine: Teaching Active Citizenship Through Social Audits

In much of the West Bank, there are rampant problems in the funding and delivery of government services and infrastructure projects. This case study follows Palestine’s Teacher Creativity Centre’s (TCC) efforts to mobilize students to conduct social audits of public services and demonstrates the challenges and benefits of involving students in strategies for social accountability.

IBP Case Study Palestine Social Audits
Uganda: Winning Human Resources for Health

This case study recounts how a coalition of civil society organizations coalesced around the goal of bolstering staff at health facilities in Uganda, enlisting the support of key parliamentarians and government officials to win new funding for the sector.

winning resources for health in Uganda case study
Uganda: Aligning Local and National Concern for Maternal Health

This case study recounts how the White Ribbon Alliance Uganda has pursued a multi-pronged strategy to win greater and more effective spending on maternal health.

case study: maternal health in Uganda
Maternal Health In Tanzania: Stuck Between Public Promises and Budgetary Realities

This case study recounts how White Ribbon Alliance Tanzania achieved both successes and setbacks in its campaign to win more funding for emergency maternal healthcare at local clinics.

case study: maternal health in tanzania
The Hidden Corners of Public Finance: A Synthesis of Country Case Studies that Look Beyond the Core Budget

This report gives an overview of eight case studies commissioned by the International Budget Partnership that examine public spending that can occur outside of the core budget.

Raising The Stakes: The Impact of HakiElimu’s Advocacy Work on Education Policy and Budget in Tanzania

This case study examines the issues, campaign, and impact of HakiElimu’s work in Tanzania to target meaningful policy decisions that lead to higher quality schooling.

When Opportunity Beckons: The Impact of the Public Service Accountability Monitor’s Work on Improving Health Budgets in South Africa

This case study illustrates how a South African civil society organization has used its budgetary analysis to advocate for improvements in health service delivery.

Foreign Assistance and Fiscal Transparency: The Impact of the Open Budget Initiative on Donor Policies and Practices

This paper presents research that sought to document how, when, and why three donor agencies have adopted the Open Budget Index.

The Impact of the International Budget Partnership’s Open Budget Survey and its Partner Institutions’ Advocacy on Budget Transparency in Honduras

This case study looks at how the preparation and publication of the Open Budget Survey 2010 in Honduras increased awareness of Honduras’ budget transparency problems.

Budget Transparency in Afghanistan: A Pathway to Building Public Trust in the State

This case study discusses major improvements in government budget transparency and public engagement in Afghanistan, presenting an analysis of the roles of the following actors in the trend toward more open budgeting: 1) the International Budget Partnership, foreign donors, civil society organizations, and the media; 2) the government; and 3) the legislature. This paper argues that by increasing its OBI score from 8 in 2008 to 21 in 2010, Afghanistan has made important progress, though it still remains below average.

The Impact of the Open Budget Initiative Secretariat and its Partners on Budget Transparency in the Democratic Republic of Congo

This case study analyzes the role of civil society in the reform of public finances, budget transparency, and public participation in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). With pressure from IBP’s partner, the Réseau Gouvernance Economique et Démocratie (REGED), the government of DRC took several new steps to improve government transparency.

Social Justice Coalition Pushes for Access to Sanitation in Informal Settlements in South Africa

Formed in 2008, the Social Justice Coalition (SJC) is a coalition of civil society organizations in the informal settlement of Khayelitsha in Cape Town, South Africa. This case study examines the Clean and Safe Sanitation Campaign, which was aimed to ensure that the City Council properly maintained existing toilets and also provided additional clean and safe sanitation facilities in informal settlements.

This case study was updated in 2013.

South African Legal Resources Centre Successfully Advocates for Adequate Education Facilities

The Legal Resources Centre (LRC) is a South African nonprofit human rights organization that conducts public interest litigation. This case study looks at the LRC’s legal campaign to force the South African government to provide adequate school facilities.

The Role of Brazilian Civil Society in the Tax Reform Debate: INESC’s Tax Campaign for Social Justice

When the Brazilian government sent a new tax reform proposal to Congress in 2008 that would exacerbate the already high level of economic inequality, the Institute for Socioeconomic Studies (INESC) came together with other leading civil society organizations to form the Movement to Defend Social Rights under Threat by Tax Reform (MSDR). This case study examines the work of the coalition that contributed to the tax reform being abandoned.

Ghana: Budget Monitoring by SEND-Ghana and its Partners Helps Improve Nutrition for Children and Support Local Farmers

This case study describes the Social Enterprise Development (SEND-Ghana) Foundation’s budget monitoring work, which was used to promote improvements in the Ghana School Feeding Programme.

Freeing Funds to Meet Priorities and Needs: Sikika’s Campaign to Curb Unnecessary Expenditure in Tanzania

This case study shows that a focus on media outreach and raising public awareness may not be enough to bring about changes in contexts where budget allocation processes are closed and there are strong internal pressures to maintain the widespread patronage and rents that can be drawn from recurrent expenditures in the budget.

Evidence for Change: The Case of Subsidios al Campo in Mexico

The Subsidios al Campo campaign used Mexico’s freedom of information laws to obtain and publish official data on the recipients of agricultural subsidies, and its analysis brought a large amount of new information into the public domain, shifting the debate about agricultural subsidies from a focus on their overall size to a discussion of how equitably they were being distributed, which challenged a powerful agricultural industry in the process.

This case study was updated in 2013.

Samarthan’s Campaign to Improve Access to the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme in India

This case study examines a civil society campaign to address problems in the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act’s (NREGA) administration and mobilize people to demand work they are guaranteed under the scheme.

This case study was updated in 2013.

In the Face of Crisis: The Treatment Action Campaign Fights Government Inertia with Budget Advocacy and Litigation

This study looks at how the Treatment Action Campaign’s ongoing campaigns for access to HIV/AIDS treatments combined negotiations with the government, mass mobilization of its members (including civil disobedience campaigns), and litigation contributed to this increase.

Children’s Right to Early Education in the City of Buenos Aires: A Case Study on ACIJ’s Class Action

This case study examines the Civil Association for Equality and Justice’s (Asociación Civil por la Igualdad y la Justicia, or ACIJ) complex litigation strategy, which involved “freedom of information” requests, budget analysis, and media dissemination, to pressure 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.

Tracking Funds for India’s Most Deprived: The Story of the National Campaign for Dalit’s Human Rights’ “Campaign 789”

This case study looks at how a civil society campaign undertook sustained monitoring of India’s Scheduled Caste Sub-Plan 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.

Show Me the Money: Budget Advocacy in Indonesia

In Show Me the Money: Budget Advocacy in Indonesia, authors from five civil society organizations – IDEA, the Inisiatif Association, Lakpesdam NU, the Centre for Information and Regional Studies (PATTIRO), and the Indonesian Forum for Budget Transparency (FITRA) – present case studies on their budget work to fight against corruption and improve the allocation of government resources, and five case studies from smaller organizations based in various local districts in the country.

Earthquake Reconstruction in Pakistan: The Case of the Omar Asghar Khan Development Foundation’s Campaign

This case study describes how a large coalition of civil society organizations and citizens embarked on a campaign to jump-start Pakistan’s efforts to rebuild in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake that shook the Hazara region and the Azad Kashmir province in Northwest Pakistan on October 2005.

Quality of Education Reforms: The Case of HakiElimu’s Campaign of 2005-2007

This case study describes HakiElimu’s campaign to ensure that every Tanzanian child receives a high-quality basic education.

South Africa: Civil Society Uses Budget Analysis and Advocacy to Improve the Lives of Poor Children

This case study describes how the persistent campaigning by a range of civil society organizations and coalitions has contributed to significant budget and policy changes over the last decade such as the expanded eligibility for the Child Support Grant.