Gaining a better understanding over the past decade of what works (when and how) has reinforced the view that the success of our programmes requires our work to cover individual practitioners, budget and debt management teams and, from time to time, practitioners from line ministries. We also hold the view that our work should stretch beyond technical solutions to include institutional factors and interpersonal relations. This has fundamentally shifted our approach away from seminars and large conferences towards an approach that works in-country and with teams of practitioners and peers.

In July 2015, a team from the CABRI secretariat and resource persons from the ODI, GIZ and AFRITAC facilitated a workshop on the implementation of programme-based budgeting (PBB) for the Zanzibar ministry of finance. In line with the CABRI approach, peers from Ghana, Kenya and Seychelles joined the team.

The tabling of PBB in Zanzibar was followed by the more difficult task of getting line ministries to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of public spending. Rather than designing a programme based on best practice, the workshop environment empowered government officials to draw on their own awareness and understanding of the PBB reform process, expertise and capabilities to identify the most pressing problems facing the budget process in Zanzibar, as well as the most feasible action that would need to be taken.

CABRI facilitated a second workshop for the ministry of finance of Liberia in November 2015, as part of the ODI’s ongoing Budget Strengthening Initiative in the country. The purpose was to elaborate on problems defined at the first workshop (of May 2014) and the progress made since then. Over three days, teams dug deeper into the challenges blocking certain reforms, and worked on refining concrete action points and implementation timeframes.

In the reporting period, CABRI also provided an opportunity for eight African countries (Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Uganda and Zanzibar) to reflect on the most critical PFM reforms they have undertaken. Officials from these countries shared their experiences on why PFM reforms often do not deliver on expected results, and what would contribute to greater success?