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 14th, 2012 8:31 PM UTC
By Dr. Sipho Moyo
Ghana is a country I’ve come to admire profoundly for its democratic credentials over the last five elections since 1992. And now, I have seen that country successfully transfer power for the sixth time in a row without an implosion. Ghana has done it again… it’s pulled off yet another peaceful election last week on December 7!
What makes this truly commendable is the fact that Ghana has maintained its reputation as an oasis of peace in a troubled region where smooth elections are not always taken for granted. Ghanaian activist and Free Africa Foundation President Professor George Ayittey highlighted a number of key factors that account for Ghana’s political maturity in an article for CNN this week.
I want to focus on three critical factors – from Professor Ayittey’s article – that Africa can learn from. These factors have helped Ghana in becoming not only the political inspiration of the continent, but the country from which we have come to expect much.
First, the existence of a free media, particularly print and broadcast media and the proliferation of FM radio stations in Ghana, has provided a precious tool for exposing problems, holding government accountable and ensuring transparent elections.
A second underpinning aspect has been the existence of a strong and vigilant civil society – enabled by freedom of association, of expression and of movement as well as the use of new technology and social media.
The third important dynamic has been the maturing of political leaders, which in the words of Professor Ayittey, was “stupendously displayed in the 2008 elections,” and has been demonstrated in this recent election where once again the difference between votes for the two leading candidates has been marginal.
Ghana concluded its elections on Sunday, and voted in President John Dramani Mahama of the New Democratic Congress, who beat his rival Nana Akufo-Addo of the New Patriotic Party. President Mahama avoided a run-off by a whisker, garnering 50.7 percent of the votes, compared to Akufo-Addo’s 47.7 percent.
The elections were declared free and fair by the African Union, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Coalition of Domestic Election Observers (CODEO), and the US government amongst others.
However, even with an election that close, Ghana’s main opposition party will not be taking to the streets to challenge the results, in which they are sighting counting irregularities. According to the chairman of the main opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), Jake Obetsebi-Lamptet they will be taking their matters to the Supreme Court. Yes, in the midst of an electoral dispute, Ghana continues to bolster its image as a peaceful nation.
You really do have to admire Ghana. My sincere congratulations to Ghanaian citizens for a peaceful election.
Image credit: Kofi Akrofi
Mar 29th, 2012 9:36 AM UTC
By Guest Blogger
Please welcome Aliou Goloko to the ONE Blog. Aliou is a Senegalese journalist who his passionate about Africa and football. He offers his take on the Senegal elections. Image courtesy of SeneNews:
After several months of uncertainty and tension, the Senegalese people have again expressed themselves through the ballot box. The election of their fourth president, Macky Sall, stands as another fine example of African democracy.
Wade, victim of his supporters
Sall defeated incumbent president Abdoulaye Wade, who ran an unsuccessful campaign for a third term after nearly twelve years in office. Many ordinary citizens, along with the opposition, denounced his campaign. The outgoing president’s supporters, most notably his family, only made matters worse by behaving poorly in the public spotlight. Wade’s stubborn defense of his controversial son, politiican Karim Wade, cast a dark cloud over his candidacy. Other members of his entourage have been arrested for financial misconduct and physical assault, but have yet to stand any punishment. To these stains we must add the stress of increasing demand for staple foods and resulting price hikes, the skyrocketing unemployment rate, and the luxurious lifestyle enjoyed by state offcials.
The N’diguël: End of a tradition?
Senegal’s population breaks down into 94 percent Muslim, 5 percent Christian, and 1 percent animist. During election season, politicians tend to seek the public approval of religious leaders, who issue voting instructions called the n’diguël.
Previous presidents, including Wade, used this opportunity to consolidate their power. This election proves that today’s voters, especially youth, don’t’ see the n’diguël as a mandate. Even with religious sanctioning, Wade still lost the election — which means that religious leaders’ hold on the voting booth is loosening.
After a political career serving Wade, Sall stands as the future leader of the Senegalese state. A real plebiscite, Sall was supported by the 12 other candidates and claimed nearly 66 percent of the vote — a clear victory that prompted his opponent to congratulate him even before the official declaration of results.
His political career was impressive even before this feat. His resume includes stints as a minister, member of Parliament, prime minister, founder of the Alliance for the Republic party, and president of Parliament. During his tenure as head of Parliament, he summoned Karim Wade to court to testify about supposed misuse of ANOCI funds (National Agency for the organization of the Islamic Conference). For that bold move, he fell out of favor with Wade — but into favor with the Senegalese people.
What awaits President Macky…
Sall will have to tackle many challenges head-on to satisfy an electorate that is increasingly demanding and aware of its rights and duties.
Sall will have a lot on his plate to fulfill the many commitments he made during the campaign. He has spoken about the restoring republican values, limiting the lifestyle of state officials, championing good governance, ending impunity, rehabilitating the education system, reducing cost of living, and improving access to health care. No small feat.
After a tense election season, Sall will have much to do to reestablish a peaceful and stable political climate. Frictions will undoubtedly rise up in the redistribution of responsibilities. As Sall manages the transition to his new administration, he will have to continually evealuate the political climate and its many diverse characters.
The second generation of the Senegalese political elite brough Wade to power; the third generation has ended his career with the assistance of new media, especially social networks.
Like Web 3.0, new citizenship in Senegal — Democracy 3.0 — is more interactive, more participatory and more informative. New media have played an important role in achieving democratic change in Senegal, allowing all citizens to participate in the political process and advocate for the change they want to see as Senegal negotiates the third democratic shift in its history.
The number three appears time and time again in this election cycle. Sall’s upcoming presidency, the third since independence, derailed Wade’s third term. The new president enjoyed support from a strong campaign made up of three components: youth movements (Y’en a marre), broader citizen movements, and coalitions of political parties. These voters are passionate about their so-called third generation rights: healthy food, decent housing, fair education, health care and employment.
Undoubtedly, this is the birth of Senegal’s “Third Republic,” one that values justice, labor and solidarity as advocated by Macky Sall. A newly invigorated democratic era that distances itself from electoral fraud, this participatory democracy is imbued with autonomy and freedom.
Who wrongly said that democracy was not meant for Africa? Africans are eager for it, and here it is: Democracy 3.0
May 23rd, 2011 11:27 AM UTC
By Dr. Sipho Moyo
If governments and leaders are not accountable to their citizens, resources will be squandered, services such as health and education will not be delivered effectively, businesses will not thrive, civil society will not flourish and conflict-affected countries will remain stuck in repeated cycles of violence and instability. For development to be sustainable, people need to be able to hold their governments to account to demand that they make good use of revenues, including aid, taxes and the proceeds of oil, minerals and other natural resources.
This video, the first in a series of videos produced as part of ONE’s Profiles and Perspectives Project was shot in Johannesburg as part of ONE’s Africa Symposium. In it, some of the brightest minds in business, civil society and academia explain how people are asserting their power, using information and new technologies to hold their governments to account.
African-led civil society organisations such as SEND – the winner of ONE’s 2010 Africa Award – play an important role in empowering local people to hold decision-makers to account, so that health, education and other services are improved. Technologies such as mobile phones, the internet and social media – in combination with traditional media such as newspapers, radio and television – are enhancing access to information and turbo-charging demands for accountability. Greater transparency and information technologies have the potential to transform the landscape of power, empowering people to raise their voices, to provide feedback, to hold their governments to account and to drive faster progress on poverty reduction and economic development.
From Kenya to Nigeria, from Cairo to Cape Town, in urban and rural areas, Africans are leading the way, using new technologies to transform the landscape of power. Ushahidi – meaning testimony in Swahili – is a great example. Born out of the post-election violence in Kenya, and bringing together African entrepreneurs, techno-whizzes, and civil society activists, the crowd-sourcing platform is now piloting an approach in which people use cell-phones to provide feedback on health and education services. Twaweza, an organisation that is about spreading information and sparking conversations that lead to change is another great example. This is about “citizens making stuff happen” as Twaweza puts it. Not donors. Not just governments. Not just NGOs. Not just the private sector. But people. Technology is not a silver bullet. Bad politics still constrains development. But in Africa as elsewhere, accountability, turbo-charged by transparency and technology, is on the move!
Building on its traditional focus on smart aid and its ongoing work on natural resource governance and transparency ONE is looking to promote an agenda on governance, transparency and accountability that responds to African priorities. We think that ONE can help to promote effective, transparent and accountable governance in three ways:
Transparency and accountability around aid, budgets and natural resource governance – and citizens’ monitoring of service delivery, for instance in relation to health and education – are current front-runners in terms of specific issues and campaigns that ONE might focus on. But we are keen to hear from you. What are the issues that matter to you? What are you doing to demand accountability? What successes have you had and what challenges have you faced? And what can ONE do to support your demands for accountability? We’re really keen to get your feedback, so please add your comments below.
Dr. Sipho Moyo and Dr. Alan Hudson
Apr 5th, 2011 1:10 PM UTC
By Edith Jibunoh
The Nigerian elections were scheduled to commence on Saturday, April 2nd with the parliamentary elections preceding the April 9th presidential elections and the April 16th gubernatorial elections.
The elections started hours late and after millions of people successfully cast their votes, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) issued a directive to all wards to stop voting. The official reason stated for postponing the elections was said to be a delay in getting the ballot papers to all the wards, especially in remote areas of the country, because of their late arrival into the country.
Saturday April 4th (along with the next few Saturdays) had been declared curfew days in order to try to maintain security and curtail electoral fraud; in the past, ballot boxes have mysteriously disappeared from polling stations. With fewer cars on the road, INEC felt they would have more control of the voting outcomes. This also brought the country to a standstill over the weekend as most people were confined to their homes and walked to their nearest voting wards.
The initial directive stated that the new dates for parliamentary elections would be April 4th, but late on April 3rd, news started filtering in announcing that the election schedule had been re-calibrated and would instead commence on April 9th (parliament), April 16th (presidential) and April 26th (gubernatorial). Some of the questions that trail this disastrous start to the elections is what is to become of the voting papers that registered the votes of millions of people on Saturday April 2nd? Can INEC ensure that this papers will not be used by any party to manipulate voting outcomes when they do in fact begin?
The Head of INEC, Professor Attahiru Jega, came into the job with an impeccable reputation and most feel he will do his best to implement credible elections. This remains to be seen as the next few weeks will reveal more.
These elections have started out peaceful but rocky. Despite outbreaks of violence in a few wards, in most areas, voting was orderly and surprisingly calm despite the long lines and the delays while people waited for voting to commence. As long as there are no indications of manipulation favoring one party over another, it is in fact possible that these elections will be successful and free of violence.
Oct 27th, 2010 7:19 PM UTC
By Dr. Sipho Moyo
Dr. Sipho Moyo, ONE’s Africa director, wrote this blog post for Transparency International (TI) to help illustrate how public sector corruption makes an impact on development. To view the original post, go to TI’s blog.
At ONE we are enhancing our aid advocacy work by highlighting attention on issues of good governance and transparency as being key elements to achieving sustainable development outcomes, including better service delivery across sectors like health, education, and better management of natural resource revenues, as well as more efficient investment in infrastructure for growth – energy, water, roads etc.
Our take at ONE is that transparency is a cornerstone of good governance as it allows citizens everywhere to hold institutions and governments accountable for their policies and performance, and thus fosters trust and helps to minimize corruption. That is why we support the emerging global governance initiatives which seek to partner with donor agencies, civil society, and governments for better development outcomes – such as the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), the Construction Sector Transparency Initiative (CoST) and the Stolen Assets Recovery (StAR) initiative.
In further acknowledging transparency and governance as global concerns we at ONE are proud to have been part of the advocacy coalition behind the success of the critical Lugar-Cardin oil revenue transparency amendment tucked into the recent US Financial reform legislation. This requires extractive companies listed on the US stock exchange to disclose to the Securities and Exchange Commission all payments made to foreign governments of the countries in which they operate. This increased transparency will help to reverse the “resource curse”, which has become shorthand for the corruption, conflict and poverty that is too often associated with natural resource-rich countries. Shining light on the payments made by multinational companies will empower African civil society to hold their governments to account for revenue received – an important step in ensuring resources benefit all citizens, not just corrupt elites. We are now rolling this campaign out in the UK and Europe, which will force companies trading in those countries to be more transparent and thus have a direct, positive impact on economic growth.
The 2010 Ibrahim Index, Africa’s leading governance assessment, reveals a mixed picture about recent progress across the continent. While many Africans are healthier and have greater access to economic opportunities than five years ago, many are less physically secure and more politically disenfranchised. The index highlights both the areas of progress and the setbacks in governance, and points to the need to pay attention to the rights and safety of citizens if Africa must continue to make progress along a sustainable growth and poverty reduction path.
As we heighten emphasis on results we also believe that increased assistance should be given to core public sector institutions in developing countries for improving their capacity, efficiency, transparency, and accountability in key functions like budget formulation, implementation, oversight and procurement management. This will result in higher quality service delivery particularly as the role of parliaments, judiciary, audit agencies, civil society and media becomes more important.
Ultimately better governance helps fight poverty, improves living standards and raises development outcomes. With improved governance, infant and maternal mortality will decline significantly as resources allocated to health service delivery are fully deployed as intended. The same is true for improving education and boosting GDP. Furthermore, good governance has been found to significantly enhance aid effectiveness. Transparency lies at the heart of much of this, and will continue to be a core principle for ONE’s advocacy work across the world.
ONE is a movement of 3 million people in Africa and around the world fighting the injustice of extreme poverty.
A single person's voice may go unheard, but if we come together as ONE, we cannot be ignored.
Join ONE today because together we can end extreme poverty.
The International ONE Blog is a daily log of the anti-poverty movement. The site is operated by ONE staff, with guest contributions from ONE volunteers, members and allies.
The content of each post and each comment represents the views of that author and does not necessarily reflect the views of ONE. ONE does not support or oppose any candidate for elected office, and any post expressing support or opposition for a candidate is not endorsed by ONE.