Jan 23rd, 2013 4:37 PM UTC
Today, the International Budget Partnership (IBP) – ONE’s key partner for efforts to promote open and transparent budgets in developing countries – released their 2012 Open Budget Survey. The 2012 Survey assesses 100 countries on 125 questions; 95 about the availability to the public of documents related to the budget cycle, and 30 about how citizens may participate in their country’s budget process. The Survey was carried out in 2006, 2008 and 2010, but has evolved over time. This year, IBP has partnered with the Open Knowledge Foundation on a Data Explorer, where you can see maps and rankings of Open Budget Index scores, sort questions by topic, or look at how the rankings have changed over time. Check out the data – the results may surprise you!
Click the infographic to make it larger
Participation in Focus
New for this year’s Survey is a series of questions on participation, something which IBP and ONE agree is essential if budget transparency is to pay dividends in terms of accountability and improved development results. The average score for the 100 countries surveyed in the 2012 survey is just 19 out of 100 on the 30 questions that measure participation. We’re excited that IBP is focusing on improving participation, and about the innovative ways the survey shows countries are getting citizens involved – including South Korea’s finance ministry field trips, Trinidad and Tobago’s public forums, and New Zealand’s tax hotlines – which allow citizens to report tax evasion or fraud anonymously. Sharing these stories helps to show that not all participatory budget processes have to look the same.
The Open Budget Index
The Survey includes the 2012 Open Budget Index, where countries are ranked on a scale of 0 to 100 based on the 95 budget questions. Countries score zero by making no budget documents public, or 100 by being completely transparent and making public all documents.
For 40 countries, data illustrates that progress has been made since 2006; those countries’ average Index scores increased from 47 in 2006 to 57 in 2012. The Index also shows that countries that start from a low baseline of transparency improve faster than those whose scores are nearer the middle of the ranking. Similarly, it’s even harder for countries that score well to improve significantly. Since the 2010 Index, countries that had been the least transparent, with scores of 40 or less, improved from 19 in 2010 to 26 in 2012, a 36 percent increase. Otherwise, however, progress was limited between 2010 and 2012.
How is Africa Doing?
Among African countries, South Africa leads the way with a score of 90 on the Index. This score is 2nd overall, behind only New Zealand, and ahead of the United Kingdom. Uganda also scores well, with 65, in the “significantly” transparent category. Unfortunately, 14 of the 26 countries in the index that provide “scant or no information” on budget documents are African. However, bad Index scores are relatively cheap and easy to fix. By simply making public budget documents that countries already produce, Index scores would improve significantly. And making those documents public is crucial for citizens in those countries to see how their governments are spending money.
There are seven countries where transparency has improved significantly (by more than 15 points) since 2010: Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Mozambique, Pakistan and São Tomé e Príncipe. However, in Egypt, Zambia, Sri Lanka and Serbia, scores decreased by more than 15 points since 2010. So while improving budget transparency can be easy in the short term, institutionalizing participatory budget processes is more difficult, but necessary to ensure that progress is maintained and built upon by civil society.
South Africa: Africa’s Star Achiever
South Africa maintained very high levels of budget transparency in the 2012 Index, and while their rank dropped from 1st to 2nd in this year’s Index, their very high level of budget transparency – higher than that of the UK, France, Norway, Sweden and the United States – is very impressive. And the information that the South African government makes available has been used in successful budget advocacy. IBP’s website has multiple cases studies of local organizations using information about the budget to execute effective campaigns. One, by the Treatment Action Campaign, resulted in a National Treatment Plan for HIV/AIDS, putting 1.6 million HIV+ South Africans on ARV treatment. Another campaign focused on improving access of a social security grant to poor children increased access from 2 million in 2001 to nearly 11 million in 2012.
The IBP’s Open Budget Survey and Index are incredibly important to us, and to citizens around the world who need information in order to hold their leaders to account for the money they spend. We commend IBP on another job well done, and look forward to hearing more stories about how transparency is helping civil society around the world make the changes they want. Open Budgets, Transform Lives.
Dec 18th, 2012 4:30 PM UTC
By ONE Partners
What can we do to fight corruption? One of the most frequently asked question Transparency International got when we published the Corruption Perceptions Index 2012 last week.
The question is especially pertinent in Africa, which only has five countries in the top 50 countries on the index, where lower scores indicate a greater perception of public sector corruption in 176 countries. 90% of African countries on the index score less than 50 out of 100, with Botswana in 30th place showing what can be achieved in the fight against corruption, and Somalia in last place warning what happens if you don’t.
Corruption is a daily burden in Uganda, which ranked 130th out of 176 countries, and has recently faced a major aid scandal. The situation is particularly tense in the health sector. Our research has shown that less than half of staff were available at health facilities. The absence of health specialists inevitably exposes people to paying bribes if they want preferential treatment.
Indeed, 24 per cent of health providers we surveyed acknowledged that taking informal payments in exchange for services is common. 44 per cent reported that service users sometimes offer gifts to health workers. (Our colleagues in Zimbabwe face a similar challenge: nurses once fined women for screaming during labour).
The situation is aggravated by the lack of transparency and accountability, making it harder for citizens to tackle the problem. None of the lower level health facilities we looked at had complete financial records, and most facilities did not have updated drug stock registers.
In 2010 we set out to address corruption problems in healthcare and farming by rolling out several development pacts in central Uganda, similar to those tried by our colleagues in India.
We told communities to pick their own development agenda, then asked local politicians to commit to fulfilling that agenda. People were able to pick the issues that matter to them, and clearly described what they expect their leaders to deliver.
Some of the leaders refused, some signed up. Not surprisingly, more of the latter were re-elected than the former.
Photo: A regional politician signs a pact.
After the pacts were signed, citizens set up committees to monitor progress. Politicians and officials now often give the committees access to their offices to get information.
The result was relentless community pressure for better services. The committees personally counted drugs as they were being delivered. The list of drugs received is posted on notice boards. More staff have been hired, more mosquito nets delivered and more people are visiting the health centre. Parents have learnt to monitor budgets, and are now tracking school budgets too.
The people from my village are happy because they can receive all the basic drugs prescribed to them by the physician at no cost and drug shortages have become history in the health centre – A member of the Kyebe sub-county community
Another priority was government funding for subsistence farmers. The government provide funds to support farmers. Under the scheme, local authorities are supposed to use funds from the state to buy seeds and equipment for local subsistence farmers. The problem is they often buy sub-standard seeds and machinery and keep the difference.
We held review committees attended by both local politicians and government representatives. In the past, politicians had always blamed the other for failings. But when they were all in the same room, it suddenly became harder to duck responsibility.
Photo: Transparency International and community members witness the pact signing
We have managed to give farmers more control over the process. The criteria for selecting farmers who receive support was made simpler and more open. More farmers joined the government support programme, having been made aware of their rights and the selection process was made more open.
Our work continues.
In the north of the country, we are now helping citizens report problems in health care by sending SMS text messages. For example, they warned that malaria nets are not being distributed despite the fact that a health centre that recently received a delivery from central government. Read more on this here.
Jun 19th, 2012 10:32 AM UTC
By Guest Blogger
Rakesh Rajani is a ONE member and the Head of Twaweza (meaning “we can make it happen” in Swahili), a 10-year initiative to enhance access to information, citizen agency, and public accountability in East Africa. Below is his contribution to USAID’s Frontiers in Development essays.
If there were a prize for global organizations most tainted with corruption, FIFA, the International Federation of Football (Soccer) Associations, would be a strong contender.
For years, its board members are said to have demanded, received, and dished out bribes for purposes such as vote buying and selling rights to host the World Cup. The “crony culture” inside FIFA has reportedly caused huge losses—about $100 million in one instance alone when an exclusive deal with a marketing company went belly-up. These acts have spawned investigations, books, and blogs seeking to expose the organization, but FIFA appears to have warded off serious reform. Its current boss has been in charge for 14 years and part of FIFA for 38. He ran unopposed in the last election, in part because his two rivals were disqualiﬁed for foul play. His predecessor had been at the helm for 24 years.
Precise numbers are difﬁcult to establish, but soccer has well over a billion supporters worldwide. Many of these tune in every week on radio, TV, and, increasingly, the Internet. More than 700 million are estimated to have watched the ﬁnal games of the World Cup in 2006 and 2010, across all six continents. It is easily the world’s biggest sport.
While growing up in Mwanza, Tanzania, listening to commentary of English league games on a crackly BBC shortwave transmission was the highlight of my week. Today, walk through East Africa’s bustling neighborhoods or rural communities on weekends, and you will likely see animated men and (increasingly) women listening to a duel between national rivals or watching Chelsea play Arsenal or Barcelona take on Real Madrid. You will see much of the same across large parts of Africa, Latin America, and Asia. In many cases, these are communities that have no electricity and low incomes, but some entrepreneur will have rigged up a generator and an improvised satellite dish, and be turning a tidy proﬁt charging entrance fees.
It’s not only about relaxing in front of the TV. Soccer is among the most common topics on social media, radio call-in shows, and street corners. Crotchety pundits, hip pre-teens, and nerdy economists alike pore over team statistics to discern patterns, debate choices, and predict outcomes. It is public engagement interspersed with politics, business, and local drama, but soccer remains at the core. And soccer evokes great emotion. When there is a crucial goal or save, observe the poetry of celebration rituals or the slow motion implosions of defeat among both players and fans. It’s quite an experience.
Why does soccer work? Why, unlike so many badly governed public agencies, NGOs, and projects, is soccer so powerful, lively, and engaging? Could it be that soccer has got something so right, that it doesn’t much matter that its state of supra governance is somewhat shambolic? And if that is indeed the case, might it provide useful insights for how we think about development in countries where the intractable problems of supra governance will not be sorted out soon?
Soccer and development, while very different, have several features in common. I’ll highlight four. Both have purposes or goals to score. Both have rules and conventions of how things are to be done. Both have someone deciding whether conduct is right, imposing sanctions for foul behavior, and judging the ﬁnal outcome. And both have actors who need to be motivated and focused to deliver. But each handles these features very differently.
In Soccer, Success Is Clear and Simple
Soccer isn’t called the “beautiful game” for nothing. Players display enormous skill when dribbling, passing, and making daring dives and gravity-defying turns. Fans love these moves, and TV screens replay some of the best ones over and over, so that viewers can study the skill and savor the moment. Papers speak of the teams that play the most entertaining football. But all this skill is aligned toward a very simple and very clear purpose: to score more goals than the other team. Sure, a lot of other statistics are collected, such as the number of passes, number of fouls, percentage of possession, ages of the players, and so forth. The artistry is fun and appreciated, but what matters is how it contributes toward the purpose. What counts is the ﬁnal score.
The incentives are well aligned too, in the short and long term. You win the game, you celebrate, your team gets three points. Everyone involved—the players, the managers, the owners, the spectators—understand this. In the long term, those points and goals add up, and you move up the league table or on to the next round of the competition, until you win the cup. The better you perform, the more likely you are to earn a better salary.
Read the complete essay on page 18 of USAID’s Frontiers in Development publication.
Photo Credit: Kendra Helmer/USAID.
Dec 13th, 2011 3:39 PM UTC
By Edith Jibunoh
AYT was founded by a group of five young people in 2005, all working in different sectors, but with a common interest to profile the youth agenda. They recognized that scattered initiatives, which they were all individually involved in, were not going to be powerful enough to bring about change. With this understanding, they combined their efforts and today their model promotes partnerships between the younger and older generation with a focus on economic empowerment and governance. Three of the original founders are still involved with AYT today.
AYT staff and Network Members
The bulk of their programs are carried out by young people and builds in a research component, in order to assess change and impact, capacity building for sustainability, as well as an advocacy component, driven by youth and targeting policy-makers. They have produced a guide to youth action against corruption and have used this guide to train 96 young people to date. AYT is also involved in employment training as a way to engage young people in entrepreneurship. African youth are very active users of twitter and facebook, and especially in Kenya, and this medium has allowed AYT to more effectively engage young people and encourage discourse.
At the onset of AYT’s activities, they found that so many of the youth population were involved in corrupt activities without realizing they were complicit in corruption, simply because of their lack of knowledge. In order to address this they collaborated with the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission (KACC) to train youth about what corruption meant and organized them to monitor and report acts of corruption. With the support of a USAID funded program, AYT also organized young people to conduct audits of Constituency Development Funds, which are designed to channel resources to youth programs. These funds have been notorious for the misappropriation of funds, but with the AYT’s organizing capacity, young people started to ask questions about the funds that were meant to aid their development and monitor their disbursement.
Beneficiaries of AYT’s empowerment programme
While there are other youth organizations in Kenya, very few are engaged in the promotion of an inter-generational discussion that allows a platform for young people to engage in policy. The culture of civil society in Kenya is known to be primarily confrontational, a defensive reaction to the previous governments hostility to civil society. But since 2002, the new government has been much more receptive to civil society. So rather than become a watchdog of the Kenyan government, AYT’s approach has been to promote dialogue between policy makers and young people. Their non-confrontational approach is really one of the key strategies that have enabled them to be successful. In adopting such an approach they are also cautious to safe guard against becoming “yes-men” and instead demonstrate value to the government by proposing alternatives to perceived systemic problems that promote corruption.
The Africa Youth Trust has been doing amazing work! We commend their efforts and congratulate them for joining the list of 2011 ONE Africa Award finalists!
Nov 17th, 2010 7:17 PM UTC
By Osahon Akpata
Finally, Nigeria, Africa’s largest oil producer, has decided to set up a Sovereign Wealth Fund, safeguarding some of its riches for future generations. Since the discovery of large petroleum deposits in the late 1950s, there have been several attempts to put aside some of the unexpected bounty that comes from rising oil prices. The most recent version of these initiatives was the aptly named the Excess Crude Account (ECA).
At the end of 2007, there was $20 billion in the ECA, but sadly it has dwindled down to barely $400 million in recent months. The depletion was due to state governments claiming their share of the account in order to stabilize their local economies, which were affected by the financial crisis. There was no constitutional barrier to prevent the raiding of the account.
Nigeria’s new Minister of Finance, Olusegun Aganga, a former Managing Director at Goldman Sachs, announced in September, 2010 that a Nigerian Sovereign Wealth Fund draft bill has been submitted to the National Assembly. The fund has already been seeded with $1 billion of capital. This is very good news for the future generations of Nigeria since little of the $1.6 trillion the country has earned from petroleum resources has been conserved. It is important that the bill be passed because this will give the fund the necessary legitimacy to protect its assets from getting into the wrong hands and from the vagaries of changing regimes.
Osahon Akpata was born and grew up in Lagos, Nigeria. After completing his undergraduate degree in Accounting & Finance in England, he moved to the US where he has had an extensive career in finance and marketing. He has written articles for NEXT newspaper, Black Star News, Saharareporters.com and the African Sun Times. Osahon is currently enrolled for an MBA at Columbia University in New York City. He is working on a project evaluating Nigeria’s proposed Sovereign Wealth Fund as part of his coursework.
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