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Kenny Oleru, Nigeria Program Officer

 

 

Access to safe and effective health care is a basic human right, but for too many people in my home country of Nigeria this can be almost impossible. Many communities rely on local health care centers - known widely as primary health centers or PHCCs - but these facilities are poorly funded by state governments. As a result, they have crumbling infrastructure, inadequate medical supplies and unsanitary conditions. The sad truth is many Nigerians view these centers as hot spots for disease and infection, instead of places for healing.

IBP has partnered with the Community Empowerment Network (COMEN), a community-based organization working across Anambra state, to equip them with the budget skills to advocate for better health services and address the challenges that were resulting in underfunded and neglected facilities. IBP worked with COMEN to rally media, civil society and frontline health workers together to launch the #FixMyPHCC campaign in early 2020 to raise public awareness of the poor state of these health care centers and pressure the government to properly invest in them.

And then COVID-19 hit. Many were concerned that health care centers would exacerbate the spread of the virus, so we had to accelerate our work and demand an immediate response from the government. As a result of our joint budget advocacy with COMEN, the Anambra state government increased budget allocations to the health sector by 6.4 percent in the revised 2020 budget. As a result, 54 percent of health care centers across the state have accessed government funds to address the documented issues.


One lesson we learned in 2020 is timing can be everything. The COVID pandemic presented us with an opportunity to exert pressure on a government already focused on health care and primed to respond quickly. Seizing the moment, we were able to support COMEN in strengthening their budget skills to improve local health care and hold the government accountable moving forward. During the upcoming state elections at the end of 2021, we will work closely with COMEN to leverage this political moment to demand that state officials are held accountable for what they did or did not do to improve community health facilities during the pandemic and beyond.

In this section, we shine a spotlight on partners who are spearheading budget advocacy on the ground to affect transformational change in their communities.

This month we talked with Ubagu Martha Amuche, a member of COMEN (the Community Empowerment Network) in the Ojoto community in Nigeria about her work on improving the conditions of Primary Health Care Centers in Anambra state. Learn more about Ubagu's budget advocacy work here.

 

  • On the World Bank blog, IBP executive director Warren Krafchik and Chandler Foundation’s Leslie Lang Tsai, argue that governments are struggling to balance speed and integrity in managing public money during COVID-19. They outline five steps governments can take to improve accountability and in turn COVID recovery.
  • IBP made it in the top 20 transparency and good governance think tanks in the 2020 Global Go To Think Tank Index Report. Researched and compiled by the Lauder Institute at the University of Pennsylvania, the report explores the role policy institutes play in governments and civil societies around the world.
     
  • The International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) Public Financial Management blog covered IMF’s and IBP’s second edition of the Regional Seminar on Fiscal Transparency in Francophone Africa, which brought together ministries of finance, parliamentary finance commissions, supreme audit institutions, civil society and donors from 16 countries to discuss how to bolster fiscal transparency in the COVID-19 responses.
     
  • In light of misleading government claims on county health spending in Kenya, John Kinuthia, lead research analyst for IBP-Kenya, offered recommendations for examining allocations to county health departments in a recent Africa Check article.
  • Making India's budgets open, usable and easy to comprehend is the goal of the Open Budgets India (OBI) portal – a resource developed by our Open Budget Survey partner Centre for Budget and Governance Accountability (CBGA). The portal helps citizens navigate through data, visualizations, and insights from various tiers of government to understand how public money is being used and to facilitate public engagement with budgets. New dashboards are being added and government resources digitized to allow for quicker and easier analysis of various government budgets. Watch this space to learn more from CBGA about this vital resource.
     
  • Our colleagues at the Public Expenditure and Financial Accountability (PEFA) program released their first global report this month: Public Financial Management in the 21st Century: Harnessing Data for Better Policy Making and a short summary video.
     
  • Check out the latest newsletter from the Global Initiative for Fiscal Transparency (GIFT) where they preview their work ahead for 2021. 
     
  • March 6, 2021: Open Data Day is an annual celebration of open data where groups across the world create local events that showcase the use of open data in their communities. Key focus areas include environmental data, tracking public money flows, open mapping and data for equal development. Learn more.
     
  • March 9, 2021: 10:30 am – noon EST: Integrity Action shares their research findings on sustainability in social accountability. Click here for more info and to register.
     
  • March 10, 2021: 9:00 am – 10:30 am EST: INTOSAI Development Initiative’s “Innovative SAIs going F.A.R.” (flexible, agile, resilient) features Mr. Taka Ariga and Dr. Elise Beisecker from the U.S. GAO’s Innovation Lab. Find more info and register here.
     
  •  March 15 – 26, 2021: Global Days of Action on Tax Justice for Women's Rights. The Global Alliance for Tax Justice and its regional networks and partners around the world are calling on global leaders to #MakeTaxesWorkForWomen. Check here for more info.
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