SPARK (Strengthening Public Accountability for Results and Knowledge) is an ambitious and innovative global program to arm marginalized groups and activists with the tools necessary to engage in budget processes and affect transformational change in their lives.
In Nigeria, SPARK is working to address service delivery failures in the critical sectors of health and agriculture. Specifically, our focus is on two areas: improving primary healthcare delivery for marginalized communities and enhancing smallholder women farmers’ access to critical agricultural resources and women-friendly equipment.
Primary Health Care
Service delivery in Nigeria is characterized by poor availability and quality as well as inequitable access. With more than 87 million Nigerians living in extreme poverty, insufficient delivery of primary health care (PHC) services has dire consequences, especially for marginalized groups that are vulnerable to injuries and debilitating illnesses and experience higher death rates from preventable causes.
The health sector is hardest hit – suffering from inequitable coverage of PHC services, low-quality data, broken infrastructure, and insufficient funding and governance (3.9 percent budget allocation in 2018 against the 15 percent budget allocation agreed upon in the 2001 African Union Abuja Declaration).
Similar to the health care sector, the agricultural sector suffers from misallocation of resources as well as the continued reliance on an oil driven economy. In 2018, only 2.2 percent of the budget was allocated to agriculture, in direct conflict with the 10 percent pledged as part of the Maputo Declaration on Agriculture and Food Security.
Additionally, a lack of recognition and prioritization of the needs of smallholder women farmers undermines the productivity of the sector. Despite accounting for 72 percent of the Nigerian agricultural labor force, smallholder women farmers remain disadvantaged. Access to gender-friendly equipment (like power tillers and hand planters) and farm inputs (like fertilizers and improved seeds and seedlings) are very limited for women farmers which impedes their ability to increase production.
- Report: Smallholder women farmers still frustrated over promise of palliatives that remain a pipe dream
- Video: Impact of COVID-19 lockdown on small scale female farmers
- Video: Smallholder women farmers in the season of COVID-19
- From the Open Budgets Blog: Nigerian women smallholder farmers: We Feed the Nation and Cultivate the Land: Open the Budget Process to Us
- COVID-19 primary health care center assessment
Our core partners are citizen-led networks, coalitions and movements that are working to improve specific service delivery issues. They have the demonstrated capacity to engage with government actors at multiple levels and have a vibrant and powerful membership base comprised of active citizens.
- BudgIT is a civic organization that uses technology to bolster citizen engagement with institutional improvement. BudgIT is providing technical support to Community Development Agencies in Ijebu Ode to strengthen their service delivery campaigns on improving maternal health care services in Primary Health Care Facilities.
- Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) is a non-governmental, non-profit and non-partisan organization that uses social entrepreneurship to enhance and deepen economic, social and political change. CSJ’s technical assistance will support SWOFON to campaign for better access to critical agricultural inputs and women-friendly equipment, especially in rural areas.
- Centre LSD implements development programs at the community, state, national and international levels with the goal of improving budget transparency and accountability. CLSD will provide technical support to JDPC Nnewi and the SPARK agency group COMEN, to address issues of water and sanitation in their primary healthcare facilities.
- The Justice Development and Peace Commission (JDPC) is a membership and faith-based network of entities with community connections in nearly all the 774 local government areas and 36 states of Nigeria, with experience in engaging government structures at the local, state and federal levels.
- The Small-scale Women Farmers Organisation in Nigeria (SWOFON) advocates for and supports women farmers, especially those in rural areas, through capacity building to demand their rights and privileges, spur rural village economic development and increase food production. The organization represents the voices of more than 500,000 disadvantaged women farmers across the 36 states plus the Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria.
SPARK aims to enable poor communities and social movements in pilot states to engage or influence budget and service delivery systems in the agriculture and health sectors at different levels of government. We want to empower poor and marginalized communities to receive improved basic services for primary healthcare and enjoy greater access to agriculture inputs and women-friendly farming equipment.
Primary Health Care
In SPARK’s focal communities we are seeking to address the underlying factors – such as insufficient resource allocation and implementation and weak oversight systems – that undermine primary health care delivery and result in lack of access to safe water, poor sanitation and hygiene, low-quality maternal health services and a weak infrastructure. We are working with community groups to improve the primary health care sector, including:
- Improved access to drugs and critical equipment for primary health care centers in marginalized communities in Oyo State.
- Improved maternal health care services to expectant mothers in poor rural communities in Ogun State.
- Improved access and quality of primary health care through the provision of clean water and basic sanitation and hygiene at health facilities in disadvantaged communities in Anambra State.
SPARK is working with Smallholder Women Farmers Organisation in Nigeria (SWOFON) to bolster the collective agency of smallholder women farmers to campaign for better access to critical agricultural inputs and women-friendly equipment, especially in rural areas.
The SWOFON Campaign has included a short-term intervention leveraging the 2019 general elections to draw initial political commitments using the smallholder women farmers’ Charters of Demand, relationship-building with agricultural sector stakeholders and actively engaging with 2020 and 2021 budget planning.
Empowering Women Farmers
Our agricultural work in Nigeria began with understanding the underlying budgetary causes of service delivery failures that are preventing smallholder women farmers from raising their productivity and upending the cycle of poverty. We discovered that the budgetary challenges include:
- Poor resource allocation and utilization for the agricultural sector
- Untimely release of funds for critical agricultural inputs
- Non-prioritization of women-friendly farm equipment in the budget
- Limited information and participation in budget processes for rural women farmers
SPARK supported smallholder women farmers campaign to articulate and document their priority needs into Charters of Demand and develop effective strategies to address those needs. Through the campaign, several key government officials (including a serving State Governor), political flag bearers and influential leaders signed the smallholder women farmers’ Charters of Demand to address the challenges facing this community.