We initiated our work in Egypt in the wake of the Arab Spring revolutions as citizens called for greater accountability from government in an atmosphere of freedom that held the promise of more room for civil society activism. Our work began with creating awareness among civil society groups of how budget work could help advance their advocacy efforts as they sought to bring about a better life for citizens, especially the poor and underprivileged. We spent much of this early period holding trainings for CSOs at both the national and local levels. We also began to support some of the groups who had participated in these trainings. Those groups included:
- South Center for Rights (SCR) – to undertake budget analysis and advocacy related to sanitation services in four selected villages in Upper Egypt.
- Association for Health and Environmental Development (AHED) – to support analysis of the pay scale regulations for health services providers and how these regulations were being implemented nationwide.
- Budgetary and Human Rights Observatory (BAHRO) – to research and produce a background paper on program-based budgeting (PBB) that would serve as fundamental information upon which to build an advocacy campaign with the goal of having the government adopt PBB.
- Welad El Balad – to report on local budget issues in a monthly, four-page supplement in ten local citizen newspapers in Lower and Upper Egypt, and produce budget infographs online.
Recognizing that the unusual and fluid situation in Egypt sometimes required the organization to work in less familiar ways, IBP adopted an approach that also included working closely with other international NGOs that already had funded programs ongoing in the country, but wanted our assistance in adding the budget angle to their work. To date, IBP has worked most closely with two such organizations:
- Coptic Evangelical Organization for Social Services (CEOSS ) – IBP helped their work with Disabled Persons Organizations (DPOs) in the issue of disabled inclusion in the mainstream education.
- CARE International, Egypt – building capacity of their grassroots partner CSOs in Egypt and Tunisia in order to be able to identify service delivery issues that can be addressed through budget work.
As we continue our work in Egypt, we will focus on continued partnerships with and capacity building of CSOs, maintaining and deepening relationships with the Ministries of Finance and Planning, documenting civil society budget work in Egypt through case studies, and assisting groups to participate in and work effectively to monitor the process of decentralization.