Follow the Money: real stories of how open data can change lives

Follow the Money: real stories of how open data can change lives

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All around the world, information is empowering people to ensure that money is being invested in fighting poverty. When citizens can follow the flow of public money, it helps to stifle corruption and makes sure that money ends up where it should be – buying textbooks for children, giving people access to health services, and providing people with clean water.

So, what’s the challenge? Today, nine out of ten Africans do not have adequate access to their government’s budget documents. And even if they do have visibility, in many communities the budget information is written up on chalkboards in town halls.

But we can act to change this. With the Financing for Development conference currently underway in Addis Ababa, we have a unique opportunity to ignite a data revolution through a new Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data. We want to give citizens access to information and help communities like these by making sure that their governments are opening their budget books.

That’s why today we’re launching our Follow the Money portal.

It’s a collection of real community stories that show how transparency and access to information has led to change for people living in poverty. We want to prove to governments, businesses, citizens, and the world, the real impact that access to information can make. Here are just a few examples:

Nigeria: $5.3m to clean up lead-poisoning mining village after social media campaign

lead poisoning

After 400 children died from lead poisoning linked to gold mining in Bagega, the Nigerian government promised a clean-up and tp provide medical care. Two years later, no funding had arrived. Follow the Money Nigeria launched a social media campaign and within months the funds were released. 1,000 children received treatment and the contamination was cleaned up.

South Africa: Using budget data helped huge increase in grants to the poorest children

SA grants

Civil society organisations in South Africa analysed budgets and used the data in their campaign to increase support for the poorest children. They found extra funding in budgets and lobbied for the age range to be increased. The number of children receiving support rose from 1.9m to 11.1m over 13 years.

Ghana: Blind schoolgirl Felicia gets funding to stay in school after disability budget exposé


Felicia’s mother was struggling to pay her school fees, and it was affecting her performance. SEND Ghana discovered a local government disability fund was being mismanaged, and only 1/3 of eligible people were getting the help they were entitled to. Felicia now has the grant she needs to stay in school.

Explore more stories on the portal.

We want your stories! If you know about a project where citizens have used data to hold their government to account, you can submit it and we’ll add it to the portal.


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