CSBI History

The Partnership Initiative will in many ways further and deepen the work begun by the IBP and its donor and civil society partners through the Civil Society Budget Initiative, which ran from 2003 to 2009. The CSBI aimed to build capacity for budget analysis in civil society organizations in selected low-income countries, ultimately to improve budget transparency and governance and decrease poverty in the countries.

The CSBI sought to engage established civil society groups in select low-income countries where the governance, information, and civil society environment was conducive to applied budget work, but where such work had not yet taken root. In addition to its focus on supporting organizations that had as a core part of their strategic vision a goal of examining budget impacts on poor people, the CSBI aimed to capture and disseminate lessons learned by groups beginning such work in challenging environments.

The CSBI was coordinated by the International Budget Partnership and funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID), the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), and the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad).

Background and Rationale

Since the late-1990s, there has been a dramatic increase in the capacity of civil society organizations to understand, analyze, and influence public budgeting in developing countries. This trend has been strongest in middle-income countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America (in such countries as South Africa, India, Mexico, and Argentina). The overall strategic focus of this work is to influence budget policies and outcomes by combining applied public finance research with effective dissemination and advocacy. Groups engaging in this work also share a common commitment to inclusive and pro-poor budgeting.

Though civil society budget work has grown much more slowly in low-income environments, there are examples showing that work in these contexts is possible, given sufficient opportunity and capacity, as well as adequate financial and technical support. This is why the CSBI focused on nurturing the capacity of civil society organizations in low-income environments to do budget work. To this end, the CSBI provided a combination of financial, technical, and learning/networking support to nascent budget groups by drawing on the capacities of established budget groups around the world.


The CSBI was directed by a steering committee, which was responsible for choosing the specific countries in which to engage partner organizations and for making decisions on allocating financial grants. The committee membership included representatives from among the strongest budget groups in the world, as well as the CSBI’s donors and several outside experts.

CSBI Steering Committee
Mike Battcock, Department for International Development, DFID, U.K.
Zie Gariyo, Uganda Debt Network, UDN, Uganda
Helena Hofbauer, FUNDAR – Center for Research and Analysis, Mexico, and International Budget Partnership, IBP, Mexico
Warren Krafchik, International Budget Partnership, IBP, U.S.
Michael Lipsky, Demos-USA, U.S.
Svante Persson, Swedish International Development Agency, SIDA, Sweden
John Samuel, Action Aid Asia, Thailand
Jim Shultz, Democracy Center, Bolivia
Jeff Thindwa, Participation and Civic Engagement Group, World Bank, U.S.
Lisa Veneklasen, Just Associates, U.S.

Project Support Provided by CSBI

The CSBI implemented its strategic vision of increasing the capacity of civil society to engage in applied budget work and deepening the impact of that work on efforts to improve governance and reduce poverty by providing:

  • core financial assistance grants of US $40,000 per year (for up to two years pending renewal approval) to build budget work capacity within existing civil society organizations;
  • tailored technical assistance provided by experienced budget groups around the world (each CSBI partner was assigned an appropriate project “mentor” from within the same region);
  • discretionary small grants to support discrete activities or pilot projects for organizations that were not yet prepared for a core grant; and
  • training and networking opportunities for the groups involved in the initiative, as well as integration into the broader international budget network.

Who Received CSBI Support?

CSBI support went to civil society organizations (e.g., research organizations, university departments, NGOs, women’s organizations, trade unions, etc.) that were independent of political parties and that had their origin in the initiative’s targeted countries.

  • Groups were selected for support based on the following criteria:
  • Does the organization have a clear vision of the budget work that it wishes to undertake, and of the role this work would fulfill in pursuing its organizational mission and goals?
  • Does the organization have an ability to combine the capacity for solid analytical work with substantial relationships in civil society to carry that work forward?
  • Is the national, regional, or local climate favorable to budget work – i.e., is there a real opportunity to have an impact on state policies to advance the interests of poor people?
  • Is the organization proposing a project that is well conceived, realistic, and addresses in a direct way budget or revenue issues?

Learning From CSBI Partners

Learning about how to support and undertake budget work in challenging environments was an integral part of the CSBI. To this end, the initiative engaged in activities to learn methodically and strategically from the projects it supported. Learning “capture” (i.e., assessing the lessons from the experiences of the initiative’s participants and using that knowledge to strengthen the work) was done through training, networking opportunities, case studies, and good practices guides that were disseminated widely to guide donor and civil society work in poor countries.

To facilitate networking and information-sharing among partner groups, the CSBI convened the first annual training and exchange workshop for staff from all CSBI-supported projects in December of 2005. The workshop was held in Uganda and hosted by the Uganda Debt Network (UDN). Participants shared case studies of their progress, engaged in discussion of common challenges, and participated in a site visit to UDN field offices. Training for all groups was provided by members of the CSBI Steering Committee, and focused on such subjects as sector-specific budget analysis, coalition building, strategies for advocacy, and working with media.

CSBI Original Partners

  • Centro Internacional de Investigación en Derechos Humanos (CIIDH), Guatemala (still part of CSBI)
  • Foro Social de la Deuda Pública y Desarrollo de Honduras (FOSDEH), Honduras
  • Center for Labor Development and Agricultural Studies (CEDLA) and the Center for Higher University Studies (CESU), Bolivia
  • Centre pour le Gouvernance Democratique (CDG), Burkina Faso
  • GRAMP-TC, Chad (still part of CSBI)
  • Civil Society Coalition for Quality Basic Education (CSCQBE), Malawi
  • Haki Elimu, Tanzania (currently a Partnership Initiative partner)
  • Poverty Action Network (PANE), Ethiopia
  • Omar Asghar Khan Development Foundation, Pakistan (currently a Partnership Initiative partner)
  • Bandug Institute of Governance Studies (BIGS), Indonesia
  • NGO Forum on Cambodia, Cambodia (still part of CSBI)

Budget Work Around the World

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