Strengthening Public Accountability for Results and Knowledge

Our Strengthening Public Accountability for Results and Knowledge (SPARK) program flips traditional public finance management work on its head by putting underserved communities at the center of budget advocacy.


In 2018, we piloted a new approach in seven countries to equip grassroots communities with the skills to gain influence over budgets. This effort focused on Ghana, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, and South Africa. In five years, we have proven that a bottom-up model works. We can tangibly improve the lives of underserved communities and these communities can lead effective, powerful coalitions capable of shifting government incentives and service delivery practices.

We started by talking to underserved communities first, because they know best what services are failing them and what they need to thrive. We then built powerful coalitions of budget analysts, reform allies in and out of government, oversight actors and the media to improve the services they identified as priorities. We pursued five strategies.

  1. We helped partners strengthen their ability to represent their communities’ needs. Using social audits and other budget analysis, we helped them collect community data to show government officials the extent of the service delivery gaps they were facing and to articulate compelling arguments to get these issues addressed.
  2. We fostered broad reform coalitions united by mutual interests and complementary skills and networks. Coalition allies have helped to open doors and provide insights on the barriers officials face, and how best to navigate their limitations and incentives to drive change.
  3. We brokered partnerships with accountability actors—such as auditors, legislators, and others—that shared our commitment to improve public spending.
  4. We opened the doors to decision-making spaces where our grassroots partners could meaningfully inform budget decisions that impact their communities.
  5. We shaped narratives and leveraged partnerships with the media to make the case for better services and apply sustained pressure for the government to respond.

Nigerian and Ghanaian women farmers are getting the right tools, seed and fertilizer to increase food production. Informal settlement residents in South Africa and Senegal have cleaner and safer sanitation facilities. Indonesian fisherfolk are securing a greater share of subsidized fuel to improve their livelihoods. Most importantly, our partners have a seat at the table influencing services for their communities and making governments more responsive to their insights. 

Governments now see our partners as influential players in informing fiscal policies for underserved communities, which will allow them to keep building power over resources long-term.

As we deepen our impacts in four focus countries (Indonesia, Nigeria Senegal and South Africa), we will pivot our approach in three important ways:

  1. Putting greater focus on bottlenecks in how public finances are managed to ensure service delivery reforms stick, including collaborating with government at multiple levels to ensure fiscal systems are more equitable longer-term.
  2. Integrating an intersectional gender lens by prioritizing partnership with women-led chapters of partners and having a sharper focus on maternal health,  gender-sensitive sanitation services and other sectors they see as priorities. We will seek to understand and engage with the power dynamics that perpetuate the systematic exclusion of women and marginalized people.
  3. Deepening our partnership model by ensuring that partners are central to both strategy and implementation planning and fully integrated into learning.
Key Takeaways


people now have access to new or improved services


policy changes have been secured by our reform campaigns


in increased allocations secured across 7 countries


spaces were convened in which citizens informed and shaped budget decisions in 2021

Where We Work in this Area

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