Each month, we shine a spotlight on partners who are using budget advocacy to bring transformational change to their communities. This month, we spoke with María Caridad, Public Policy and Programs Research and Evaluation Director at FARO in Ecuador.
How did you become involved in budget advocacy work?
As an economist I’ve been interested in public finance and fiscal policy. I’ve always liked to research and learn and share that knowledge. My whole professional life I worked in research and consultancy. But I was missing the advocacy part, linking more to people and civil society. So when the opportunity to work in FARO was available, I decided to apply. I love being at FARO and co-mingling these two aspects – research and desk work with the advocacy.
What are some changes you’ve worked on in your time with FARO?
I did a lot of research on different sectors of the economy before joining FARO. One study we published explained how the income from oil exporting is distributed. Some goes to the general government account, and a specific percentage goes to the Amazonian provinces. The study did not include what the different local governments do with those resources. Does it improve (the citizens’) quality of life? At FARO, I have the opportunity to link the research to the actual citizens and see how we can advocate for a change in public policy.
You recently attended an IBP event in Istanbul bringing together civil society organizations with government delegates who review the Open Budget Survey questionnaire. How was that?
It was a great experience, in part because Ecuador was the only Latin American country present. It was interesting to share with colleagues from all over the world, like Pakistan, Sierra Leone, Vietnam, and other countries that have different languages, realities and cultures. Despite all our differences, we share ideas, concerns and agree on budget transparency and public participation challenges.
What do you look forward to working on with IBP in the future?
I think there are a lot of things IBP and FARO can do in the future. For example, the OBS survey is national, so it would be interesting if we could try to go to the local level, too.
It is great that IBP works with local organizations/partners in each country, really working with citizens to achieve public policy changes. In Latin America this work has been limited to the OBS. In other countries, especially countries in Africa, IBP is working on projects that have more outreach and involvement of citizens to achieve public policy changes. I hope that in the future FARO can work with IBP in similar initiatives.