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

By Brendan Halloran, International Budget Partnership, Nov 09, 2017

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

By Brendan Halloran, International Budget Partnership, Nov 09, 2017

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

By Brendan Halloran, International Budget Partnership, Nov 09, 2017

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.

budgets that exclude sanitation south africa

Realizing Human Rights Through Government Budgets

By Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the International Budget Partnership, Sep 27, 2017

This publication explores the linkages between obligations under international human rights law and budget policies and processes. It seeks to sensitize government officials to better understand their human rights obligations as they decide budget allocations, implement planned expenditures, and assess the budget’s impact on the realization of human rights. It also aims to provide non-governmental actors with information about the relationship of human rights to budget processes and specific budget decisions, so that they are better able to hold their governments to account.

Realizing Human Rights Through Government Budgets

Engaging Government Differently: Social Audits and Service Delivery in South Africa

By International Budget Partnership South Africa , Sep 19, 2017

This short video tells the story of how residents, elected officials, administrators, and civil society organizations worked together to improve sanitation in Wattville, near Johannesburg in South Africa. Work done by Planact, the Social Audit Network, IBP South Africa, and the government of Ekurhuleni led to faulty portable toilets being replaced, improved relationships between government and residents, and a commitment to scale up a collaborative approach to social accountability.

social audit sanitation wattville south africa

Deliberating Budgets in Kenya: Tools and Examples

By International Budget Partnership Kenya, Sep 05, 2017

These videos capture highlights of budget deliberation demonstrations organized by IBP Kenya in Isiolo, Mombasa, and Nakuru counties. Additional videos include information on how to facilitate a budget deliberation demonstration, how to help citizens think about budget tradeoffs, and additional resources.

Public Deliberation of Budgets in Kenya

Taking Stock of the Volatility of Budget Transparency

By Paolo de Renzio, Daniel Hiller, and Suad Hasan, Aug 24, 2017

“Volatility” in the publication of budget documents — when the public availability of documents containing key budget information changes repeatedly over time — is a common occurrence across countries included in the International Budget Partnership’s Open Budget Survey. This Budget Brief presents the results of a study of evidence related to volatility in budget transparency across countries included in the Open Budget Survey, drawing on survey data between 2008 and 2016, public finance management laws, and the strength of government systems linked to the production of budget information.

The Volatility of Budget Transparency

How Can Government Foreign Debt Operations Be Made More Transparent?

By International Budget Partnership, Aug 01, 2017

Emerging market economies are increasingly turning to international capital markets to finance their budget deficits and support their development needs. Unfortunately, in some cases, these arrangements have caused controversies. This Budget Brief examines government operations in international capital markets in Kenya, Mozambique, and Malaysia to assess whether they suffered from a common set of problems. It also highlights how limited transparency contributed to the mismanagement of the monies raised by the three governments, and proposes a set of transparency and accountability measures that could potentially mitigate problems in government operations in international capital markets.