The reporting period marked the end of a three-year project that aimed to support improvements in budget transparency and public participation in ten African countries. This was a joint project with the International Budget Partnership (IBP) that involved the equal participation of the government and representatives of civil society.
At the final workshop, participants discussed norms and standards for public participation, how finance ministries could provide information that is useful for citizens (for example, in the form of citizens’ budgets) and what mechanisms need to be in place to make public participation more meaningful. Case studies from Zambia on child nutrition and South Africa on hygiene and sanitation demonstrated how public participation has resulted in improved service delivery.
Over the past three years, CABRI has taken countries through a journey demonstrating the importance of budget transparency, showcasing how countries can strengthen transparency – with detailed examination of practices in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya and Tunisia – and articulating how active transparency can lead to improved public participation in the budget process. In keeping with our approach, eight peer countries (Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Lesotho, Liberia, Mali, Mauritius, Niger and South Africa) took part in the transparency reviews of Tunisia, the DRC and Kenya. Civil society representatives participated in each of the country reviews, which provided a valuable contribution to our understanding of how citizens and non-governmental organisations can contribute to budget decisions.
The IBP’s Open Budget Index report, released in August 2015, showed a significant improvement in the transparency and participation scores of many of the countries that participated in the CABRI/IBP project, especially the DRC and Tunisia.
Improved budget transparency and participation is a link to greater accountability, better policy choices and the effective delivery of public goods and services. CABRI’s ongoing work in this area will focus increasingly on these critical linkages.