Initiatives

Collaborating for Open Budgets

This initiative is building a broad, diverse global movement of civil society groups with the skills to actively engage in budget processes and promote accountability.

About

We are supporting partners to strengthen budget analysis and advocacy skills and to collectively mobilize and engage reform champions, oversight institutions and other allies to ensure public budgets are delivering for all people.

We have provided in-depth and tailored training to more than 250 civil society groups in 24 countries (Afghanistan, Armenia, Bolivia, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, East Timor, El Salvador, Ethiopia, The Gambia, Honduras, Ivory Coast, Jamaica, Kyrgyzstan, Madagascar, Nepal, Niger, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda and Zambia) to build their skills and knowledge of how to analyze budgets and advocate for reform. In each country, we targeted a diverse pool of civil society organizations, including faith-based organizations, youth groups and media organizations focused on issues such as health, women’s rights and anti-corruption. We sought out partners in countries that had little history of citizen involvement in budget processes. At the outset, almost all the target countries had opaque budget processes, lacked strong budget oversight institutions, and did not have robust civil society engagement on budget issues. The program uses the Open Budget Survey, advocacy and capacity development to change these dynamics.

Research:

Local researchers collaborate on the Open Budget Survey to identify gaps in transparency and participation practices in their country. Our partners then use this data to inform their goals and monitor progress as they advocate for their governments to pursue more open budget practices.

Capacity Building:

Together with in-person training, our foundational online learning platform introduces organizations to some of the basic concepts and tools of budget work. Participants examine how adding a budget lens to their work adds value. They familiarize themselves with the country’s budget process and basic budget information, discuss the different budget actors and outline the power and relationships between them. And they learn the importance of accessing policy and budget information and channels for participation.

Advocacy:

We have built deep relationships with civil society partners in countries where we provide advocacy support. We collaborate with partners to connect their agendas with the legislative, budget and media cycles in their countries. They also learn to use the budget information that is available to drive reforms in other priority areas, such as education, gender equity, debt, etc. We strengthen engagement between civil society and governments, and leverage connections with international partners and initiatives to secure, document, and follow up on government commitments.

We have shown that even in countries with a history of opaque budgeting processes, governments can engage in meaningful dialogue with civil society about making budget processes more transparent, inclusive, and accountable. Governments in all 15 of the target countries included in the 2021 OBS were responsive to the Survey’s findings released on May 31, 2022. Civil society partners convened with their governments to discuss the survey findings and the actions they can take to improve transparency, participation and oversight in their countries.

We have demonstrated that, with political will and local advocacy, progress is possible anywhere by documenting improvements in open budgeting practices and identifying areas for future reform. For example, Bolivia’s Open Budget Survey transparency score increased from 12 to 20; The Gambia from 4 to 35; Jamaica from 42 to 50; Niger from 17 to 27; Tanzania from 17 to 21; and Tunisia from 35 to 42.

This is just the beginning of the journey to broaden the bench of groups with the budget advocacy skills to drive change. We have extended our support to civil society organizations in the Western Balkans (Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey) and the Middle East and North Africa (Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Palestine and Tunisia). In these two regions, we will forge deeper relationships with partners by providing regional coordination and more hands-on capacity development. The skills and knowledge imparted through the project will enable partners to undertake more effective budget advocacy and, ultimately, center citizen voices in public spending decisions. This project receives financial support from the European Union.
Key Impacts

38

countries have benefitted from these efforts

250+

organizations engaged in skills training

450

people were supported and mentored

Where We Work in this Area

The National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR), with IBP's help, ensured that 90,000 students benefitted from scholarships in FY2021-22.

India

IBP has partnered and supported budget advocacy in India for more than 15 years. From 2018-2022, we fostered powerful coalitions to improve access to critical government programs meant for Dalit and Adivasi communities.

South Africa

In South Africa, we fostered a powerful coalition of a dozen organizations that are part of the Asivikelane initiative, which has participants from over 500 informal settlements across 10 municipalities.
Members of the fisherfolk group KNTI at a rally where government members and fisherfolk came together to discuss budget credibility issues facing fisherfolk.

Indonesia

In Indonesia, we fostered powerful coalitions to support the national fisherfolk union and a grassroots organization representing the urban poor to demand accountable delivery of services. Together we have improved access to fuel subsidies for fisherfolk and cash assistance for urban poor households respectively.
Take Action

Demand
Accountability

Join us and our many international and national partners to urge governments to:
  1. Establish meaningful, inclusive spaces to engage the public in budget processes.
  2. Curtail executive overreach and empower legislators and auditors’ oversight roles.
  3. Disclose more and better budget information.
  4. Sustain progress by institutionalizing accountability reforms.

Add your voice
Related Stories
Related Resources
Learning, Training Materials

Strengthening Budget Credibility: The Pocket Guide for Auditors

Supreme Audit Institutions (SAIs) have an important role to play in strengthening the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and ensuring that a country’s budget is on track. Checking and reporting on the legality and accuracy of public accounts, as well as the credibility of budgets, can be instrumental in governments delivering on their sustainable […]
Learning, Paper

Disentangling Government Responses: How Do We Know When Accountability Work Is Gaining Traction?

Advocacy for public accountability aims to produce certain reactions from government officials or service providers. However, the reactions can be many and diverse, and it is not always clear to advocates how to interpret them and decide on next steps—whether to intensify efforts or back off; continue the same strategy or make adjustments. This paper […]
Paper

A Taxing Journey: How Civic Actors Influence Tax Policy

Our researcher Paolo de Renzio has a new book out by Bloomsbury Press that is a definite read for anyone interested in advancing winning tax equity campaigns. This open access book examines how civic organizations can influence tax policy and administration in ways that benefit ordinary citizens, through in-depth case studies from a wide range […]
Paper

Improving Budget Credibility for Access to Agricultural Inputs and Services in Nigeria

Nigeria’s federal government has budgeted 87 trillion naira for improving infrastructure and service delivery for its growing population between 2013 and 2022. Have these budgeted sums translated to commensurate improved food security? Has access to agricultural equipment and farming inputs improved, given their budgeted sums in the past ten years? In the next ten years, […]
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Investigating Budget Credibility in Nigeria: Niger State’s Health and Agriculture Sectors

This research on budget credibility in Nigeria’s Niger state provides an overview of the state’s budget performance and assesses in detail the budget credibility in the state’s health and agriculture sectors.
Paper

Investigating Budget Credibility in Nigeria: Jigawa State’s Health and Agriculture Sectors

This brief explores budget credibility challenges in Nigeria’s Jigawa state, looking specifically at budget credibility in aggregate expenditures and revenues of the state budget, as well as expenditures on programs in the agriculture and health sectors.
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