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.
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.
COMEN: Communities achieve much-needed investments in Primary Health Care
The Primary Health Care (PHC) sector in Nigeria has suffered from chronic underinvestment since the 1980s, when primary health care was decentralized and handed over to local governments. Local PHC facilities have suffered from outdated procurement processes and delays in budget flows, which slow down repairs and investment in services. There has also been weak oversight and little opportunity for citizens to participate in decision-making about resourcing these facilities. Although many Nigerians rely on their local PHC facility for care, only 20% of the 30,000 facilities across the country are in working order.
With our support, Community Empowerment Network (COMEN) built the skills and coalition to get the Anambra state government to increase its 2020 budget health allocations by 6.4%. Their 2021 budget also centralized and increased allocations to the State Primary Healthcare Development Agency from 26.4 million in 2020 to 757.6 million naira. State officials also disbursed their 20% share (the federal government matches with the other 80%) of the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF)1 to 175 PHC facilities for the first time. Anambra is now the leading state in Nigeria in accessing the BHCPF.
Women smallholder farmers in Nigeria secure investments in agriculture
In Nigeria, agriculture is responsible for roughly a quarter of the gross domestic product, the second-highest contributor in the country. Although the Nigerian government has reaffirmed its commitment to allocate 10% of its annual budget to agriculture as a signatory to the Maputo Declaration, it has not allocated more than 2.2% over the past 7 years. Women smallholder farmers especially are overlooked by officials overseeing agricultural policy and decision-making, which is surprising when they make up 70% of the workforce and produce 60% of the food Nigerians consume.
In just two and a half years the Smallholder Women Farmers Organization in Nigeria (SWOFON), with the support of IBP, secured three critical budgetary changes to bolster their livelihoods and contributions to the country’s agricultural sector. As a result of data-driven advocacy, the national government increased its spending on agriculture by 18.5% and made new federal budget allocations towards the sector in the five focus states targeted by the program. Crucially, 111,000 smallholder women farmers gained access to new or improved seeds and fertilizer to grow crops, and lighter and more modern equipment to increase production.
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.
- 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