Using Budgets for Monitoring

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Using Budgets for Monitoring

Thank you for joining the New Tactics online community for this dialogue on 'Using Budgets for Monitoring' from February 24 to March 2, 2010. This online dialogue is a space for practitioners using - and training others to use - government budgets to monitor the implementation of human rights commitments. The goal of this dialogue is to create a stronger network on practitioners using budgets for monitoring, to share important resources and information, and also to introduce this technique to our online community. 

"Preventing human rights abuse depends on government action, and government action requires government spending.  Human rights groups, therefore, cannot fully ascertain how well a government is fulfilling its obligations unless they learn how to carefully monitor government budgets and spending." - Liam Mahony, editor of 'Using Government Budgets as a Monitoring Tool'

Our featured resource practitioners who led this discussion include:

  • Warren Krafchik and Helena Hofbauer of the International Budget Partnership
  • Denny John, a consultant in the health sector for NGOs such as Action Aid, PATH, UNDP and local NGOs in India
  • Alfred Wreh, Head of Secretariat of the Liberia Civil Society Budget Watch Network
  • Mario Claasen and Petronella Murowe of IDASA in South Africa
  • Edewede (Dede) Kadiri, Senior Programme Officer with Dev't Initiatives Network (DIN), Nigeria
  • Kipp and Philip of INFONET in Kenya
  • Aoife Nolan Budget Analysis and the Advancement of Economic and Social Rights in Northern Ireland Project, Queen's Universy Belfast
  • Humphrey Otieno of the Nairobi Peoples Settlement Network in Kenya

Summary of Dialogue

In this dialogue, participants discussed the tactics of using budgets for monitoring government compliance with human rights. Budgets are a powerful tool to monitor civil and political, as well as economic, social and cultural rights, because it is through budgets that governments act on the values present in their rhetoric. Civil society can hold governments accountable by challenging the relative amounts of money allocated to different fields, or the way in which allocated money is used.

What types of budgets?

Expenditure - traditionally, budget monitoring has focused on monitoring government spending, and the way in which resources are allocated for different purposes.

  • accountability in spending - one of the participants aptly captured the importance of monitoring, "the budget gives us a clear perspective on what is done and what is omitted." By monitoring budgets, civil society agents can monitor government compliance with human rights, particularly economic, social, and cultural rights, as well as civil and political rights.
  • budget allocation - the LASDAP project in Kenya is a process whereby the community participates in identifying priorities for the local government and evaluates their performance.

Revenue - participants in the dialogue pointed out that it is increasingly more important to pay attention to the revenue the government receives. Where does the government get its money from and what are the consequences of that for human rights?

Revenue includes:

  • taxation
  • foreign aid - often runs off-budget, thus fails to be transparent
  • off-budget items - similarly to foreign aid, other items are often not reflected in the revenue portion of budget reports

Access to Information

In order to use budgets for monitoring purposes, civil society needs to be able to access budget information. Access remains to be possibly the greatest obstacle to efficient budget analysis. The reluctance as well as lack of logistical capacity of governments to transparently share information with civil society allows for lesser compliance with human rights performance.

  • Memorandums of Understanding (MOU) - memorandums of understanding are agreements between civil society and a government regarding the access of information. Since MOUs cannot be legally enforced, their compliance is challenging. This example from Nigeria displays the challenges caused by the government's reluctance to be transparent.
  • Open Budget Initiative - illustrates how governments can increase their access to information.
  • Freedom of Information Laws - many countries have adopted laws that oblige the government to share information publicly. However, when the government transfers some of its rights-related obligations to private agents, Freedom of Information Laws do not apply. If a country has not adopted FOI laws, members of civil society can organize and advocate for such laws.

The 6 Questions Campaign is an excellent example of a transnational lobbying effort for budget transparency. In this campaign, 85 countries will be assessed based on their answers to 6 questions regarding their commitment to Millenium Development Goals, aid transparency, and government spending on environmental institutions.

Engaging the Community

Communities should have a say in what government budgets are being allocated toward. There is a range of tactics that can be used to empower community in budget-related decision-making

  • working with local officials - creating a relationship between community and local officials to decide on pro-community budgeting
  • gender budget analysis - comparing the impact of government spending on men and women, making sure that the government includes women in their budgeting process - an example from Nigeria can be found here.
  • training communities in "budget literacy" - community organizations can train civil society about the internal workings of the budget and thus increase their ability to critique the governing bodies.
  • community score cards - score cards are an innovative way of gathering community input on the budget process. Read about examples from Ghana and Lagos, Nigeria.

Challenges

  • becoming an actor in budgetary planning - the best-case scenario is for civil society to have a direct role in the budgetary process. This requires intensive strategic planning and developing relationships with the governing bodies at the local, national, and international level.
  • evaluations - it is necessary to evaluate the impact of monitoring efforts. However, this can be difficult for the same reasons as access to governmental information, for a governing body may be reluctant to share changes in their budgeting allocation process.
  • identifying those responsible - governing structures are complex and extensive, it continues to be difficult to point to a specific office or person that can be held accountable for governmental decisions.
  • ensuring government transparency at all levels - although national governments at times may make moves to be completely transparent, local and regional governments have different rules and are often in charge of ESC-rights-related service provision, read more about the challenges to regional transparency in Canada.

Resources:

Photo found on Flickr under Creative Commons, by ~jjjohn~
What tools can be used to monitor rights thru budget analysis?

Please consider the following questions to discuss beneath this theme:

  • How are government budgets connect to human rights obligations?
  • How do you actually do budget analysis?
  • What skills and resources are required for budget analysis?
  • What is the full range of tools that can be used to monitor the performance of human rights?
  • Please share any guides, manuals, videos that you have used or developed around budget analysis.
Training fo budget analysis

I had attended a training session conducted by CBGA on budget analysis in 2007 which helped me get the nuances of both national, state and municipal budgets. The sessions were split into two training programmes; one on national budget process, and second on state and municipal budgets. I think the split was quite useful since the budgeting process is quite different at all the 3 levels.

But, once the training was done the most difficult part is to have access to budgetary documents of the government. In India only the national budgets are put on website but not the state and municipal budgets. So, I had to spend some time to get in touch with NGOs who had created a database (CEHAT is one such NGO in Mumbai) and have library resources of such budgets.

As part of my advocacy work related to maternal and child health I has done a report on "Public Expenditures, Budgets and Childen under Six" for FORCES  I had used the budget analysis reports of the Planning Commission of India at http://indiabudget.nic.in/

 

 

Accessing the gov't budgetary documents

Thanks for adding these initial comments, Denny!  You mention that a challenge that your group faced in India was the difficulty in accessing the necessary budgetary documents.  I imagine that others participating in this dialogue have faced similar challenges!  I would be grateful to hear about how you  and others have been able to acquire these budgetary documents.

Denny, you were able to utilize the resources of another organization that has access to these documents - CEHAT.  I am sure that there are many other organizations like this that publish these public documents.  Please share any other groups that publish government public records and budgetary documents!

Experiences on accessing budget documents

Denny, thank you for this comment. Apart from the fact that it is the first comment and inevitably the first read, I can relate very closely with your difficulty in accessing budget documents.  Nigeria only recently emerged from a militarised background and the new democratic government has yet to familiarise itself with precepts of good governance like openness and transparency. Through the implementation of our Gender Budget Project from 2006-2008, Development Initiatives Network’s budget work has been largely hampered by a lack of access to budget information needed for a comprehensive analysis. There is also no legal entitlement to public information. In fact access to public information is not only limited but out rightly criminalised through a still existing secrecy law!

However, DIN tried to obtain publicly-held information by establishing a public-private collaboration with the key budget institution in Lagos State, Nigeria, the Ministry of Economic Planning and Budget (MEPB). This was done through the conclusion of an MoU. Through the MoU, DIN hoped to gain access to documentation needed for effective budget analysis. We also hoped to gain the support of all 57 municipalities in Lagos State.  Despite the MOU, there have been persistent refusals to release documents or participate in project surveys.

Agreements to access budget information...

Dede:

I have found MOUs to access budget information tricky, at best. Many times, they mean that government keeps you within a controllable distance, where they know what you are doing and decide up to which point they will let you do it. There are many examples of groups like yours, that after reaching an MOU continue not getting the information they need. In some countries, they might be getting the information but then have no "permission" to release publicly any analyisis based on it. However, there are instances where this is the first building block for future effective budget work. As such, not giving up, and continuing to try to get the information, is crucial. Sometimes this is more a game of "who gets tired first"--you, by requesting information once and again, or the government, by denying or ignoring your requests, once and again.

A big chunk of budget work is the struggle for transparency and access to timely, useful and quality information. And while we believe that access to information is a right that has to be granted, we often disregard the fact that governments are not monolyths. Getting or not access to information is based on decisions made by persons, some of which will believe that people should have no interest in this information, and others who understand that the information is public, and that the money belongs to the public. THere are always little doors that open, and if we keep pushing, there is a good chance that we will be there to walk through these doors when they open.

Access to gov't information: the dilemma demonstration example

This is a very interesting thread on the challenges around accessing information and the tactics that are being used to overcome these barriers.  In another thread, Nancy highlights a campaign in India that mobilized the public to be interested, invested and active in the use of government budgets and the access to information.  They used the slogan "Right to know Right to live!" Dede in Nigeria, on the other hand, has been able to utilize Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) to create a relationship with the government to have access to certain information.  I propose the we have a featured dialogue on how human rights organizations access information!

New Tactics has a great example from Canada of a group of concerned citizens that were able to put the Canadian government between a rock and hard place to force them to share documents on negotiations on the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas (FTAA):

When the government refused to make public the draft documents, hundreds of its citizens showed up at the Ottawa headquarters of the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade holding "Search and Rescue Warrants" for the release of these draft documents. When the government responded by arresting one hundred citizens for requesting their right to information, the media and general public demanded to know what the government was trying to hide. Behind the success of the campaign was a strategy that included a number of common tactics, including petitions, letter writing, etc., but with the added twists of an unequivocal ultimatum, civil disobedience training on the premises of the Canadian parliament and the drama of the Search and Seizure Operation, a type of nonviolent direct action. Operation SalAMI’s dilemma demonstration tactic, as part of a broader nonviolent campaigning strategy, pressured the government to act according to its professed values and at the requests of its citizens.

This example is explained in our Tactical Notebooks titled 'The Dilemma Demonstration.' This challenge of accessing gov't information impacts so many different human rights campaigns.  Thank you for the idea to put together a dialogue on this!

More on accessing budget information...

The challenges for accessing budget information and the tactics used to face these challenges are varied, and constantly developing. Freedom of Information Laws, which where almost unthinkable in most parts of the world 15 years ago, are growing and extending its reach through all the continents. But FOI laws and regulations entail their own complexities, especially in terms of knowing exactly what to request from whom. There are many tools developed by FOI activists that can be applied to budget work, including strategic litigation.

Informal tools, outside the legal framework, have been used for many years by budget groups. One of the most obvious one is for civil society to collaborate with Congress/Parliament and Supreme Audit Institutions. Generally speaking, these institutions and bodies of representatives have far more access to budget information than what is granted to the normal citizen in a country without FOIA. Most of the time, they don't have sufficient human and technical capacities to actually deal with all the information they can access, so as to play their oversight role. Civil society has worked in many countries with Congress and Auditing Institutions to simplify their information or even to look into certain pieces of information in detail. There is a natural link between these actors, which can bring about fruitful collaboration and strategic alliances.

HakiElimu, a Tanzanian Right to Education group, has worked for several years now on simplifying audit reports and findings, so as to bring out some of the information that is crucial to oversight and accountability processes.

FOI and Accessing Budget Information

In our economic and social rights-based budget work in the UK/Northern Ireland, we (and others) have sought to make use of the domestic Freedom of Information legislation, which provides a general right of access to information held by 'public authorities' in the UK subject to certain exemptions. We have, however, come across a number of key obstacles in doing so. 

One major challenge is posed by the fact that, in some cases, the state has sought to give effect to economic and social rights through privatised ESR-related service providers such as housing associations (i.e., non-public authorities). Such bodies are not covered by the FOI Act and are thus effectively immune from having to provide budget-related information through a FOI application.   Furthermore, while the relevant government websites state that ‘In the majority of cases there will not be a charge’, the devil is arguably in the detail, with the website also stating that ‘there may be cases where a request for information is so complex that it would exceed the cost threshold’.  In practice, in some cases, this has resulted in activists being faced with the prospect of having to pay astronomical charges if they wish to access rights-related budgetary information. Given the costs involved, such applications have had to be discontinued.

Of course, an inability to access information can also serve as an advocacy point. Where government claims that it does not have information that is necessary to ensure the effective implementation and/or monitoring of ESR, then it is in contravention of its human rights obligations and can be challenged as such. If it refuses to provide information on a rights-based issue on the basis of an exemption(s) under FOI legislation, then much can be made of that also - particularly where specific exemptions seem unlikely to be compliant with rights-based, transparent and accountable policy-making and budgetary processes.

Some perspectives on FOI and budgets

While the freedom of information legislation has been fiercely resisted in Nigerian government (it has been thrown out of the legislative house 3 times!), this delay gives us an opportunity to refine our strategy and refine the proposed Bill. For instance, requests for accessing public information under the proposed bill must be made in writing. While it is understood that this format is necessary for record keeping, no provision is made for persons with little or no formal education or persons with sight impairment.

Furthermore, to avoid undermining the benefits of the expectant FOI Act, we (civil society) have a responsibility to build capacities to test the law and demand for information, where needed. Poor and irregular requests may have a dire effect on any FOI legislation in Nigeria. Capacity building can also can have a long term consequence of strengthening efforts in human rights and budget advocacy as well as improve demands for transparency and accountability in Nigeria.

The costs of accessing information

Mexico has one of the paramount FOI laws, which has many charcateristics that make it "easy" to request information. THere are two of these that I would like to single out, in terms of Aoife's comment. First, you should not pay excessively for information. There have been several cases in which government institutions have sought ways to charge exessively for information, in order to deter requests, and civil society keeps fighting it. As such, establishing from the beginning clear rules in this regard is important.

Also, if the government is using private providers, it is still paying them with public money. This is a challenge that we need to keep pushing ahead. It reminds me of the Provida case in Mexico, where government gave huge amounts of money to a conservative, pro-life organization, and a coalition of 6 organization was able to request the full acounts and expose huge corruption. Public funds remain public funds even if they are spent by private service providers, and accountability should not be limited by that.

The costs of accessing information cont.

Just to follow on from Helena's comment with regard to governmental efforts to 'delegate' or 'contract out' its human rights-related service delivery functions to so-called private bodies: I would absolutely agree that a key ground for advocacy in the context of growing 'privatisation' of HR-related services is to highlight, as Helena does, that where such bodies receive public funds, there must be accountability for public funds. Furthermore, where private bodies are carrying out what have traditionally been regarded as 'state functions' with regard to human rights delivery, states must ensure that such bodies do not interfere with such rights (for instance, through inappropriate use of public funds). Should the state fail to do so, it can be challenged for failing to give effect to its obligation to protect human rights. In addition, where states delegate or contract out their human rights-related obligations, the duty to fulfil may also be relevant as the state ultimately remains responsible for ensuring the realisation of HR.  Therefore, where public funds are being transferred to private bodies (or so-called 'private bodies') for HR-related service delivery, the state must ensure that those public funds are used appropriately and accounted for. 

 

The Economic Governance

The Economic Governance Project-Right to Education , Right to Know will this year try to send in requests to access information  from government ministries.This will be piloted  at country level with some capacity assistance from the Open Democracy Advice Centre in South Africa.The organisation has carried out preliminary research  on the legal frameworks supporting the Right to Information and Basic Education namely  in Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, South Africa, Swaziland,Tanzania , Uganda and Zambia.The numbers of requests sent yielded few responses - an indication that access to information still remains a challenge.We intend to continue to pilot  the requests so that we can strenthen our advocacy strategies.The fact that some of the civil service staff get to sign the Official secrecy Act, makes it evn difficult to access information even if the countries have regulations that call on governments to avail informetion to society as a whole.This instrument defeats the purpose of  government transparency and inhibits the opportunities for communities to hold states accountable.

This thread shows clearly

This thread shows clearly that access to buget information is a major challenge and will remain so for some time.  The IBP's Open Budget Index also shows that even where countries hacve freedom of information legislatution, accesss to budget information often remains a change.  In an effort to test access to budget information in practice, IBP, together with several international organizations and partner in approximately 85 countries have recently launched a 6 QUESTIONS CAMPAIGN.  Country-based civil scoiety institutions around the world are making 6 requests for budget information from thier governments over the next 6 months.  The questions all link budgets to important development sectors - 2 questions focus on budgets and maternal mortality-related MDGs; 2 focus on government spending on environmental regulatory institutions and subsidies; and 2 questions focus on the transparency and predictability of aid flows.  The international institutions involved include Family Care International, the World Resources Institute, the Institute for Sustainable Development,  Oxfam America, and Publish What You Fund.  The overall results and those for the different sectors will be released after August 2010.   For more information, contact Libby Haight at IBP (Haight@cbpp.org  ).   Warren

The 6 QUESTIONS CAMPAIGN

Warren,

The 6 QUESTIONS CAMPAIGN that you are launching in 85 countries is a great idea - thank you for sharing this.  The three issue areas you've chosen provide a great opportunity to take the pulse on these budget expenditures and incomes.

  • budgets and maternal mortality-related Millenium Development Goals;
  • government spending on environmental regulatory institutions and subsidies; and
  • transparency and predictability of aid flows.

Please come back to the dialogue to share with us the overall results when they've been released in August 2010!

more on 6QC

The release of the 6QC findings will be fine tuned with the MDG summit in New York, in September, and preliminary findings will be presented at diverse fora building up towards September. We also hope to build an aggressive (alternative) media campaign, and develop diverse products in diverse formats. While it is a relatively small effort in terms of testing access to budget information (because it only consists of 6 questions) it is a hugely ambitious project to offer a snapshot of what happens when we want our governments to reply to a set of simple questions.

Benefits of 6 Questions Campaign

Helena,

I want to really applaud your efforts to gain this information which can provide tremendous benefits. As you say, the effort will provide a snapshot - of 85 countries - regarding 6 questions. It would be great to also learn from your collaborative process on this effort. That, too, could provide tremendous lessons as people then take your initial findings to move forward the areas you've designated to examine, namely:

  • budgets and maternal mortality-related Millenium Development Goals;
  • government spending on environmental regulatory institutions and subsidies; and
  • transparency and predictability of aid flows.

It's very exciting and we'll be looking forward to hearing about the media campaign and products you are sharing!

LASDAP Watch Group

LASDAP is an acronyname for Local Authority Service Delivery Action Plan, it is aconcept use in Kenya whereby the citizen particiapte in identification and prioritization of projects to be implimented by the City Council through the local Authority but this is the easy part the challenging part is the implimentaion, monitoring and evaluation for compliance wuth what has been agreed. Now this is where the tact of watch group comes in, they monitor each and evry project as it were proposed 

Through traing the communities on basic skills on project evaluation and quantitevi analysis, at the end of the project an accountability forum will be organized and pictures of all projects implimented will be presented, the concerned persons will be asked to make thre case, asked questions. 

LASDAP watch groups: what works and what doesn't?

Thanks for sharing this information on the Local Authority Service Delivery Action Plan in Kenya, Humphrey. You mention that the most difficult part of this work is monitoring and evaluating the implementation of the projects that have been agreed upon. Do you have any information on what has worked well for the 'watch groups' and what hasn't? I would be interested in learning more about the work of these 'watch groups'!

Thanks!

The power of using budgets for monitoring

What I really love about this tactic (using budgets to monitor government human rights performance) is that it can be used to monitor so many rights - right to education, rights of the child, rights of women, rights of minorities, etc. In our previous dialogue on Documenting Human Rights Violations, a point that was raised was the difficulty of documenting violations of economic, social and cultural rights (ESC rights).   Using budgets to monitor ESC rights is a great approach to documenting these types of human rights violations!

What I also find so empowering about this tactic is that you are using the language of the government (money money money) to hold them accountability for their actions or non-actions and make recommendations for change.  These budgets are created by governments - representatives that are elected by citizens.  It's important that these citizens continue to hold their government accountable for where they are and are not spending resources.  As the video says, 'It's Our Money. Where's it Gone?'

What inspired you to start using budgets to monitor human rights in your community or country? 

Budget monitoring for law enforecment and justice functions

Hi Kirsten

 I see your point that budget monitoring is a useful tool for ESCR compliance. However, I believe the tool is of great value for monitoring other State obligations as well. For example: what chunk of the resources are spent on security and justice, and within that field: how are resources exactly allocated? This issue has many implications: how much money goes to the military, as compared to police; to police equipment; to more affluent areas at the cost of the less privileged etc. All too often in particular police agencies are confronted with very small budgets, adding to the challenge to carry out their work fair and professionally.

I am interested in hearing of experiences of colleagues who have used the budget monitoring tool in the sphere of security and justice.

Thanks

And revenues?

Most discussions on budget monitoring tend to focus on government expenditures.  This is natural.  Expenditures are easier to relate to citizen's lives.  But the budget consists of two sides - expenditures AND revenues.  Taxation has very serious - often negative - implications for the poor.  The global trend is towards indirect taxation (such as broad value-added taxes) that are regressive - they consume a bigger proportion of the income of poor people than better-off people - and we know that women and children are over-represented in the poor.  (Maybe the only place they are overrepresented!)  So, the tax system has implications for the ahievement of rights.  Working on tax analysis and advocacy is unrepresented in civil society budget work - we should invest further in this work.  Here is a guide to how to do this, complete with examples from pioneering organizations in the field.  http://www.internationalbudget.org/GuideTaxWork.pdf  

Other revenues

I should have added that there are other forms of revenues, such as foreign aid.  Adapting tools to monitor foreign aid also requires more attention.  Much of foreign aid flows into the country off-budget - it is not recorded in official budget documents.  This is a poor practice as it makes it hard for government to manage, but it is often used by donors because they lack trust in government budgeting processes.   When aid flows through the budget, it can be monitored as part of the government expenditures - you cannopt separate it out.  When it is off-budget, organizations can use many of the tools that already exist for tracking budget expenditures.  See my post from yesterday on monitoring budget implementation.  Warren

Leveraging Foreign Aid Revenue for Human Rights Protection

Warren,

Thank you so much for raising this area of revenue as an important place for examination. I would be very interested to know if you have recent examples of how organizations have been able to leverage foreign aid or monitoring foreign aid to further human rights efforts.

I want to share an example from 1999 when the Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (CELS) in Argentina leveraged the World Bank Inspection Panel to reinstitute funding for an important food security program. After unsuccessfully campaigning against the threatened budget cut, the Garden Program’s beneficiaries and staff went to CELS for help. The Garden Program, although not funded by the World Bank, was included in a list of social programs that was to be protected during the implementation of a World Bank Structural Adjustment Loan (SAL). 

CELS’ lawyers concluded that the most effective way to guarantee the protection of the right to food of the Garden Program’s beneficiaries would be a presentation in front of the World Bank denouncing a failure by the Argentine Government to honor its commitments under the  SAL agreement. CELS succeeded in leveraging the World Bank Inspection Panel to put pressure on the Bank Management in Argentina; the Bank Management put pressure on the Minister of Economy and he released the money to continue the funding of the Garden Program - an important anti-poverty and food security program for the poor.

This example, shared in our Tactics Database, certainly raises many questions of strategy and tactics that organizations would need to answer for themselves - CELS raises a number of these difficult questions and concerns they had to face. But the example does show how critical the knowledge of budget analysis and understanding how the revenue and expenditure process operates in your country can be. It provides a powerful tool for protecting and advancing human rights.

I look forward to hearing from others about examples you know about and can share with us. What other ways have foreign revenues been used? How can communities get involved in the process?

More on off-budget resources...

Sometimes it is not foreign aid, but a whole big category of national generated revenue that runs off-budget. IN Brazil, for instance, the national development bank, BNDES, which has more money in any given year than the World Bank, runs off-budget with very little oversight. IBASE and other Brazilian organizations have integrated the BNDES platform, a coalition which is demanding transparency and accountability from one of the key actors in Brazilian development.

The BNDES platform has been working hard on integrating a map (similar to the one mentioned below) where the amount of BNDES investments can be tracked and related to the communities that are affected and even the human rights record of certain areas. This tool, when fully operational, will allow people to understand what kind of money is going into big investments in their regions, and document human rights violations associated to the process, by sending in SMS, uploading testimonies and pictures, and adding documents. Up to last year, it was impossible even to know what BNDES was spending during the year.

In November, the BNDES platform had its first meeting of communities affected by the investments of the bank, bringing together people from all over Brazil and other Latin American countries. It was an important way to give communities a voice and demand respect for their human rights, transparency and accountability from a huge development institution.

Tracking foreign aid

Thanks for the CELS example.  It is inspiring.  Unfortunately, there are too few of these.  There is some work in tracking IFI loans for specific projects but this is an area where we should be investing much more.  There is a welcome spotlight on the transparency of foreign aid, with the formation of Publish What You Fund and the International Aid Transparency Initiative.  Both of these initiatives are defining ways to pressure donors to be more transparent.  Hopefully, in the not to distant future we will have much greater information on how donors - esepcially bilateral donors - are spending funds in recipient countries.  There is a chance however that donors will gravitate towards a system that is not compatible with recipient country budget systems.  This will mean that while we have more info on aid, it will be very hard to reconcile it with spending by the recipient government.  It is therfore very important that greater aid transparency is achieved in ways that are compatible with recipient country budget systems, timetables, and formats.  There is some research now emerging on how to do this.....not an easy task given that donors provide aid to multiple countries with multiple systems and formats.  See the Publish What You Fund website for more on this. 

Warren    

Monitoring (and mapping) US Military Assistance in Colombia

Hi Anneke, Helena and others,

Map of executions by army brigade jurisdictionI wanted to share an interesting example of monitoring the US Gov't claims that its military assistance was only going to Colombian military units with "clean" records (a legal requirement).  This example was shared during our geo-mapping dialogue by John Lindsay-Poland.  Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR), combined data on the frequency of human rights violations caused by military officials with the locations of the US government funding for military operations (US Military Assistance data was found via the State Dept). Once this data was collected, it was represented in a geo-map to get the full affect (unfortunately, I was unable to find the final map with all the layers - it seems that since our geo-mapping dialogue, the link has been broken). 

I thought this was an interesting example of how government spending, such as military assistance and other government aid, could also be monitored.  It's also an interesting example of how data collected from this kind of monitoring could be one of several layers of data related to each other.  It would be interesting to hear any other examples of how budgetary data has been layered on to geo-maps or other kinds of data.

Thanks!

Foreign aid and military spending

This is a great example, Kristin.  I think that using foreign aid to fund military spending in ways that are hard to track is an old tactic that is still very much in use.  A partner of our in Nicaragua, CISAS (www.cisas.org.ni) has recently completed some fascinating work to track Venezualan aid to Nicaragua that is used to fund the miltary.  We often make the case for general budget support - providing aid through a countries budget as the way to ensure that it is more transparent.  In the case of the U.S. though, aid is provided on-budget to Egypt, Israel, Pakistan which allows these countries great flexibility in how they use the aid - including for military purposes.  So, recommendations for how to ensure that foreign aid does not go to military spending - or is identifiable as such - requires careful thought.  Unfortunately, there are very, very few organizations that have developed capacity to work systematically on tracking military spending.  This is an area where CSOs need to invest urgently.   Some capacity exists within SIPRI www.Sipri.org , UNDP, and Georgetown University, if anyone is looking to establish a partnership.  Warren

Adapting Social Audit (with budgeting tactic) to your context

I want to thank Kristin for posting this It's Our Money. Where's It Gone? video. It provides a great and inspiring example of how communities in Kenya have adapted the experience of MKSS in India "Right to Know, Right to Live" campaign to address a specific law providing for the allocation of public funds for poverty reduction. 

I want to highlight the tactical steps that were exchanged between India and Kenya that has resulted in community empowerment and advances in both countries: 

  • Accessing and gathering government records (NOTE: This can be one of the most difficult steps, to actually obtain the information needed in order to track the budgets and where the money has gone. For example in India, they had to first win this right to information.)
  • Training community members and demystifying the information (training people about budgets; collating the information in a manner that helps people understand it)
  • Educating and mobilizing the public (done with participatory education methods such as action theater, songs and slogans)
  • Inspecting project sites (matching records with the reality on the ground)
  • Conducting a public hearing/meeting where people come and testify. Officials are invited to this meeting to hear the testimonies.
  • Follow-Up from the public heaing - actions recommended from the hearing including legal cases

Learning how to use and monitor budgets is a powerful tool to empower communities. The video put forth the following questions to guide the process that I found useful:

  • What are the funds that have been allocated?
  • How to track these funds?
  • How to know what happens to these funds?
  • How to let the government know what the community needs and wants?

Are there other questions that would be helpful and useful for guiding the process and putting budgets to work?

What is a budget from a human rights perspective?

Hello all,

I came across a valuable resource called: A Rights-Based Approach towards Budget Analysis. In this document, the author not only outlines the various ways in which budget analysis can be used to improve ESC rights, but offers detailed guidelines and steps how to do so.

It also includes a human rights approach to defining what a budget is:

"From a human rights framework, a national budget can be defined as a process through
which financial resources are allocated in compliance with state obligations to respect,
protect and fulfill human rights.
The status of human rights and compliance with state
obligations become the key determinants of the choices made relative to financial
resource allocation. A state’s human rights obligations should guide the ultimate purpose
of government: to use all tools at its disposal to ensure the guarantee and enjoyment of all
human rights by all individuals."

I was inspired by Anneke's point about this tactic being applicable beyond the sphere of Economic, Social, and Cultural rights (e.g. security, justice) and I wonder if there are ways that resources targetting ESC rights practitioners could be adapted to a larger set of themes? 

Tools used to monitor budget Analysis integrating Human Rights

Dear All: I recently had an opprtunity of facilitating a workshop for Liberians to truly understands what the budget process is all about; I also attended a workshop showing how to integrate Human Rights Based Approcah to Budget Monitoring and Analysis to hold government accountable, showing the roles of duty bearers and rights Holders.Key questions must be answered to Monitor budegets: How are the resources Managed? Are they: Available; Accessible; Affordable; Acceptable Good quality Other tools include: The PETS(Public Expenditure Tracking Survey) and QSDS(Quantity Supply and Delivery Survey). Budget Monitoring tools may also include:

  1. Right Based Situation Analysis.
  2. Budget Analysis
  3. Public expenditure tracking surveys.
  4. Quantitatively Service Delivery Surveys.
  5. Community scorecards

But these key tools to analysis must ensure: Ratios Averages Trends and Account for inflation We could also integrate Human rights Impact Assessment, this must answer the following to ensure perfect monitoring of the budgets. these include:

  1. What? Assess the impact of policies/projects on human rights,Builds on social/environmental impact assessment Positive or negative impacts on people affected by the policy
  2. When? Ex-post (after) – assess actual impact Ex-ante (before) – predict potential impact
  3. Why? To prevent violations of human rights (respect, protect, fulfil) Change policies, or mitigate impacts through compensation etc.Ensure that allocation of budget is enough for policy objectives Demand accountability and promote empowerment
  4. Who? Government, CSOs, national human rights institution

Kristin could you provide information on how I can share related documents through attachment.

Creating community scorecards to hold duty bearers accountable

Hi Alfred,

Thanks for posting these tips on budget monitoring and your idea for integrating Human Rights Impact Assessment into this work.  If you would like me to add any documents to your comment, please send those to me.

One thing that you mentioned in your comment was number 5 on your list of budget monitoring tools - 'Community Scorecards.'  I would love to hear more about this!  Here at New Tactics, we have been looking for examples of ways that people have created scorecards and other ranking/rating systems to hold governments, corporations, and other duty-bearers accountable for their performance.  We have documented some of these examples in a dialogue and we have a great example from our tactics database titled Using technology to share information on environmental hazards - this group created www.scorecard.org. I think what is powerful about this tactic is the incentive it gives to those being held accountable to not be at the bottom of the list - or to not be the one to get an 'F' on their scorecard!

I would be interested in hearing about how budget-monitoring practitioners have used 'Community scorecards.'  Was it effective? 


Community Score Cards: Success in Ghana

CSC is a community based monitoring tool with a strong focus on empowerment and accountability as it includes an interface meeting between service providers and the community that allows for immediate feed back on quality and adequacy of services provided in the community((Social Development Notes, SD Note 100/ March 2005).

Free Compulsory Universal Basic Education (FCUBE), launched in 1996, the objective was to “…ensure that all school-aged children were enrolled in school by 2005…”. Northern Ghana Network for Development, NGND, is an umbrella organization of of NGOs having operations at the local level in the Northern region of Ghana

  • Meetings with the national & regional authorities to inform them on the process. As a result, a letter sent at the district level that allows the CSO to access schools & districts records;
  • Increased public access to information: for the first time, public information related to manner; the FCUBE program and to its allocated budget was disseminated to a large public in a friendly manner;
  • Community empowered to raise issues and concerns: they assessed whether funds transferred to schools were used for the intended purposes;
  • Voice of marginalized people (children, women, the poorest of the poor etc) included in Action Plans: their voices were channeled ! Also, parents had the opportunity to make decisions and take responsibilities ( in Bongo district, parents decided to raise funds in order to bring a solution to the poor infrastructure and nutrition which were affecting the performance of the pupils. They established a school-feeding program.. As a result, they noticed an increase in attendance and participation. This examples demonstrates how parents can take ownership when they have a platform to voice their concerns and interact with service providers.
  • Government budget monitoring enabled holding local authorities accountable . Information on school budgets were gathered from the Ghana Education Service & the district assembly. By writing a letter to authorize CSOs to access school and district education records, they have demonstrated their support to the project..
  • The cost of accessing Education continue to lie on the parents, which became a barrier for increased enrollment and retention;There were hidden costs to schooling, such as some charges made by the schools: school uniforms, exercise and text books, printing of examination papers…;, but also sport and cultural activities (US$1 deducted of the grant); The FCUBE capitation grant was insufficient to cover to cover the cost of educating the children. In Tamale for example, during their score cards , the parents held a meeting to ask to the school administration why children have been dismissed for non-payment of school fees. At the end of the meeting, those children were allowed to return to school; parents realized theathe capitation grant was not providing any support to teachers & SMCs on financial management. Training on record keeping of finances & reporting was not provided. The capitation grant failed to have an equitable distribution by not taking into account regional variations and socio economic backgrounds; Sometimes, the capitation grant was not spent as intended. For example, part of the funds were used to finance the head teachers travel to the District Education Office to ensure the monitoring of the capitation grant expend; (the cost of each visit being on average equivalent of US$ 2-3. Twelve children’s grants used for teachers’ transportation per year. The CSCs, PETS and QSDS became a successful tool in Ghana and Uganda. Today, in Liberia we are to solicit funding to make this practice applicable in Liberia especially rural areas.

Alfred

Scorecards for measuring transparency

Hi Kristin,

 

Our score card was used to measure the government’s transparency and openness in Lagos State, Nigeria. We adapted IBP’s Open Budget Scorecard, which was primarily used with national budgets, for administration at the sub-national level. We used this document to measure public availability of government budget documents; the presentation of budget information in a manner that is suitable for policy analysis; and the extent to which public and legislative involvement in budget debates is encouraged. Some of the results can be found on DIN’s Gender Budget Website.

Great examples & resources on using budget "scorecards"

Thanks to everyone for who has been sharing these great examples of how you've put to use Budget Scorecards. It's exciting to see these examples and how the sharing between organizations and countries has made it possible to adapt these ideas in concrete and effective ways.

Denny shared the example of the Peoples Report Cards in India People's Report Cards and Alfred shared about the Community Score Cards: Success in Ghana and now Dede has shared about the experience in Nigeria with Scorecards for measuring transparency.

For a more in-depth look at Citizen Report Cards, the resource shared in this dialogue was really helpful, Improving Local Governance and Service Delivery: Citizen Report Card Learning Toolkit, created by PAC, the Asian Development Bank, and the Asian Development Bank Institute. I read the case examples - one coming from PAC - as well as others that I thought would also be worth sharing here for additional examples and ideas for how the budget scorecard can be effective. 

These examples are found in the Successful Civil Society Initiatives to Measure Budget Impact, Score Cards - from Part IV found in Our Money, Our Responsibility: A Citizen's Guide to Monitoring Government Expenditures

From India: As a result of a group of residents undertaking a citizen report card exercise in 1993 to measure citizen satisfaction of services being provided by the Bangalore Development Authority, they formed the Public Affairs Centre (PAC). In additional surveys the report card exercise continued to raise awareness of the poor performance of service providers and to compel them to take corrective action. PAC has over ten years of sustained advocacy and media publicity regarding the report card results. This along with other advocacy efforts have played a major role in pressuring city agencies to improve their service delivery.

From Tanzania: The Hakikazi Catalyst adapted the citizen report card methodology from PAC in India to the Tanzania context and developed the PIMA card. Between 2003 and 2007, Hakikazi completed two budget monitoring exercises using the PIMA card process. The main objective was to determine how the government’s poverty reduction strategies have been funded and implemented at the local level and whether they are actually improving the welfare of poor communities.  They have had some success in identifying problems in village development expenditures - namely the misuse of funds - as a result investigations have been launched.

I'm sure there are also other great examples. The more we can share and learn about, it will continue to create more possibilities of adapting these excellent budget monitoring techniques. I hope others will continue to share their experiences.

I'm wondering what the challenges are in terms of addessing the issue of corruption and the misuse of funds. This seems to be a clear pattern as people monitor how the money is distributed and where the money goes.  Are there any further thoughts about this that the participants can share?

Documents on public expenditures in India

The government research institutes such as National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) and National Institute of Public Finance and Policy (NIPFP) conduct research on public finance and public expenditures and regularly come out with working papers and reports on public finance in India.

 

 

How to use your evidence to change policy & budget allocation?

Please consider the following questions to discuss beneath this theme:

  • Now that you have collected the data, and analyzed your findings, how do you make recommendations to the government to push for change? 
  • How can you use your findings to change policy and budget allocation?
  • Can you share any success stories?
  • Share resources.
Working with District Officials for pro-community budgeting

I think apart from looking at advocacy change through workshops, publications and dialogue there is need to actively partner with the government in improving the systems that ensure proper budgetary process. As Faculty of Institute of Public Health, Bengaluru, I was part of a training programme on District Health Management. This programme was aimed at training the entire Distric Health Team (District Health Officer, Medical Officer, Statistician, etc) through a 1-year experiential training programe aimed at providing inputs for planning, monitoring and evaluating the District Health Team's activities in Tumkur District, Karnataka State. The training was conducted using a module pattern of education with subjects such as epidemiology, financial management, community participation etc.

In the financial management module where I was involved we aimed at preparing a training course module for providing inputs on preparing district health plans with financial allocations, community participation in preparing district health plans etc. This programme is currently in the training input stage and will go on for a year.

 

Gender Budget Analysis: An example from Tanzania

A good example of how budgets can be used to change government policy as well as influence the allocation of resources is the newly emerging concept of Gender-sensitive Budget Analysis. The objective of promoting Gender-sensitive  Budgets is to help achieve gender equality through altering the process of resource allocations and improving accountability. This has tremendous potential on various levels. Some national governments have implemented gender-sensitive budgets, but this tactic can be implemented by community groups as well as small-scale governing institutions. A budget (of any kind) reflects the institution's implicit values - who is money given to? who makes the decisions? By focusing on ways that we can respond to a budget's structure, we can change the pattern of values that an institution puts forward. In doing so, budgetary analysis is not only a tool to reinforce a concrete structural change (i.e. allocating money where it has not been before), but also being a source of education and new knowledge for the institution, and having the potential to alter their values.

The Tanzania Gender Networking Programme present a good example of how gender-sensitive can be implemented through a carefully planned process:

  1. Preparatory Activities/Planning
  2. Action-oriented research activities in the selected sectors
  3. Feed-backing and dissemination of research findings
  4. Development of lobbying strategies and tools for Parliamentary and public lobbying
  5. Capacity building on gender as related to budgets
  6. Development of tools/ instruments for gender budgeting
  7. Information-sharing and coalition building and networking
  8. Lobbying and government and donors’ structures and processes
  9. Documentation of the processes involved in the gender-sensitive budgetting project. 

TGNP's initiative was very successful as many ministries and related government agencies incorporated their feedback into their budgetting procedures and guidelines!

If people are interested in knowing more about how gender-budget analysis works at the different levels of impact and what some of the challenges in implementation are, here is a through guide and research summary: How to do a gender-sensitive budget analysis: Contemporary research and practice.

Do any of you in the dialogue have experiences with Gender-Sensitive Budget analysis?

 

Gender Budget Analysis in Nigeria

Development Initiatives Network (DIN) has some experiences on gender budget analysis (GBA). DIN implemented the Gender Budget Transparency and Accountability Project (GBTAP) from 2006 to 2008 in Lagos, Nigeria, with the support of the EU. DIN chose gender budget analysis over mainstream budget analysis as a means of tracking the extent to which government fulfils its commitment to women’s rights especially economic and social rights and gender quality.

 GBTAP used specific tools for analysing the impacts of government spending on men compared to women. To do this, it employed two main tools: the Gender-aware Policy Appraisal and Gender-disaggregated Beneficiary Assessments. While the former is a qualitative tracking of spending on government policies on gender equality, the latter applies a quantitative technique by using basic budget tools to ascertain whether or not government policies, plans, programmes and projects reflect beneficiaries’ needs and priorities.

 In addition to the tools applied, GBTAP’s designated website provides a practical steps for conducting a gender budget analysis through its gender budget manual. The manual recommends that gender budget analysis would

  • Describe the situation of women/men/girls/boys in your community.
  • Compare the policy and situation analyses. It would assess if the policy addresses the needs identified through the situation analyses.
  • Check how much is allocated to various population groups in the budget.
  • Check whether the expenditure is spent as planned.
  • Examine the impact on these groups.

 I would like to know of other institutions or organisations that have applied these tools successfully, what challenges they faced and how they overcame these challenges.

Additional resources on gender budget analysis and other issues

Some other useful resources on gender budget analysis include material on the UNIFEM Gender Responsive Budgeting website, which contains a range of different examples of gender budget work within the 'resources' section, as well as 'suggested readings'. Material on the site includes key resources on gender budget analysis authored by experts, including Debbie Budlender and Diane Elson.

More generally, the role of budget analysis has been the subject of two outputs by influential human rights advocates at the international and the European levels.  In June 2009, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights released its Report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on Implementation of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (UN Doc. E/2009/90). Budget analysis is the subject of paras 44-54. In addition, in his August 2009 Viewpoint on 'State budgets reveal whether the government is committed to human rights', the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights discusses rights-based budget analysis, with a particular focus on gender budgeting in Europe. 

 

Dealing with the absence of sex-disagregated data

Budgets are generally described as gender-neutral. This is because they do not usually state or show which gender allocated sums will benefit. An outcome of this trend is that it is difficult to determine from the face of the budget document, which gender benefits most from the budget unless one takes a detailed analysis of sex-disaggregated information at every stage of the budget process.

DIN’s gender budget project in Lagos, Nigeria, noted the absence of sex-disaggregated data at government ministries, departments and agencies. To brideg this gap, DIN built the capacities of 48 key budget and planning officers  in Lagos State to (i) include sex-disaggregated data in budget processes; (ii) conduct gender budget analysis; (iii) write a gender budget statements. Debbi Budlender’s paper titled Gender-responsive Call Circulars and Gender Budget Statements was helpful in developing the training content for government officers.

Using Budget Analysis Outputs in Litigation/Legal Challenges

As a lawyer, I have been particularly interested in the employment of budget work in supporting rights-based legal challenges to policy and budget allocation. In her post, Helena refers to the work of Fundar with Sonora Ciudadana. Another useful example is the case recently brought by ACIJ (www.acij.org.ar) on the right to education. Here, ACIJ used budgetary data demonstrating high levels of local government underspend on infrastructure to argue successfully that the state had violated the right to education of thousands of children who had been excluded from schools due to a shortage of school places (i.e., a lack school facilities).  While serious questions can - and have been -asked about the capacity of litigation and/or court rulings to bring about systemic social change, it is significant to note that budget work is being used more and more to support litigation which has clear implications for future budgetary allocations and expenditure.

How do you empower, educate, and mobilize the public?

Please consider the following questions to discuss beneath this theme:

  • How have you been able to empower, educate, and mobilize the public to use budgets for human rights monitoring?
  • What is a 'social audit' and why is it effective? 
  • What is 'participatory budgeting' and how is it implemented?
  • What approaches have you taken to educate communities on the importance of using government budgets for human rights monitoring?
Gaining Access to Information - "Right to Know" campaign example

Access to Information - "Right to Know" campaign example
I would like to highlight one of the points that Denny John made his comment Training for budget analysis:

But, once the training was done the most difficult part is to have access to budgetary documents of the government. In India only the national budgets are put on website but not the state and municipal budgets. So, I had to spend some time to get in touch with NGOs who had created a database (CEHAT is one such NGO in Mumbai) and have library resources of such budgets.

It would be helpful to know if this is a common barrier that other people are facing as well. Gaining access to the budget information is critical for effective monitoring of budgets.

India has been a leader on a wide variety of fronts. Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS) -  has been working to gain and ensure the public's access to information. They have lead a very successful "Right to Know" campaign in Rural India. This innovated campaign - directly linked to mobilizing the public to be interested, invested and active in how government funds have been used in rural communities. They used such slogan's as "Our money, our account", "the right to know, the right to live", "this government belongs to you and me, its no one's personal property!" 

You can read more about how they accessed a wide range of information including budget information in the New Tactics Tactical Notebook (full collection): Right to know, right to live - Building a campaign for the right to information and accountability

How have other organizations connected both the access to the budget information and ways they have mobilized their different audiences (general public, parliamentarians/legislators) to use the information?

I have had an opportunity to

I have had an opportunity to train communities and children .The aim was to develop local level capacities to question budgets in relation to their rights-particularly the right to education.The challenge with educating communities is on how the budget can be simplified/demystified for the man on the street .In most cases, we asked questions on issues that affect access to quality basic education and then moved onto what the children woukd like to have in the schools in relation to budgets.Number crunhing can e difficult for children and communities,.

Training communities and children on how to use budgets

Hi Petronella and others,

There have been a number of comments already added to this dialogue that highlight the importance of empowering communities with the tools to monitor budgets - budget analysis, etc. Humphrey commented that he sees great opportunities in training CBO (Community Based Organizations) to do this work.  Warren commented that depending on the approach to monitoring budgets, there is potential to involved large numbers of citizens. Warren writes, "Those methods that are geared to monitor budget implementation - as opposed to monitoring policies - have the most significant potential for this.  This is an important opportunity to break the exclusive nature of budgets and budget analysis skills and draws on te power of communities to use thier connections to service delivery." 

Petronella, is your work training communities and children on monitoring budgets focused on methods geared to monitor budget implementation, as opposed to monitoring policies? 

I was very encouraged to read that you are working to train children - this makes me think that even I might be able to learn how do budget analysis!  Can you (or anyone in this dialogue) please share more information about how you teach children and communities to carry out budget analysis?  How do I do budget analysis?

Thanks!

In my previous job, i worked

In my previous job, i worked closely with the Children's parliament and junoir councillors in  speaking on behalf of other children on sissues that affected them at local level -i.e budget allocations for children living in difficult situations.The  younger children 6-14 would talk about the basic needs and the absence of these at  family and school level whilst those between 16-18 would get to understand the budgetary implications and how these affected the realisation of their rights.Children had an opporunity to listen to the budget presentaion in Parliament and raised questions to the house.

Questions such as, what is missing in your school- textbooks, teachers, etc were  used to identify their needs.A 5 day workshop was then planned and the children got to see the real budget documents and the basic analysis -figures was done in relation to a particular sector in this instance, it was education and socila protection.The following texts were used as basic reading materials to get the children to understand how they can participate in the process-Working for Child rights from a budget perspective (2007) – detailing experiences form different countries and Children and young people in action – participating in budget work (2005) – which is specific to Latin American experience.Number crunching remains a challenge for the children but if they do grasp the concept, they get t speak on the ridiculous  fee increases as well as the absence of social parks, teachers,  resource books and playrounds in their c schools and ommunities.

Yes, basically the training seeks to gear children  and communities to monitor budgets through Citizen Scorecards   than policies.On the other hand, the SADC Budget Network which Idasa 's Economic Governance Project coordinates seeks to develop partner capacities to monitor budgets for policy advocacy. The RTE, RTK project also seeks to  develop /enhace capacities in budget work- monitoring policy implications as well as  the budget trends at national level for policy related advocacy.Women , particularly the poor are also left out in the budget process and need to be effectively capacitated to monitor budgets so that their voices can be heard in school governace as well as at national level.

Working with youth to educate them on budgets & monitoring

This is amazing, Petronella!  What a great initiative.  I have heard of organizations working with youth to train and educate them on rights and democracy (such as a tactic in our database from the Palestinian Territory - Developing youth parliaments to teach youth about the democratic process) but I haven't heard of anyone training youth on monitoring budgets! How wonderful to already begin building a toolkit for future advocates / activists to hold their government accountable!

Has this organization developed any cirriculum resources to share?

Have others participating in this dialogue worked with youth to educate and train them on budget analysis?

Thanks for sharing this great tactic, Petronella!

INESC´s ground breaking work with schools...

During the last five years, INESC has developed a methodology of promoting access to human rights and incorporating them concretely into public polices and the allocation of public resources. In one of their projects, INESC aimed at introducing human rights and public budgets into school curricula. The six participating schools were selected based on their levels of social exclusion, teenage violence, drug abuse, and drug dealing within school facilities as well as low academic performance.

The main goal of the project was to ensure that children and teenagers would be empowered to engage meaningfully with the budgets and policies that were affecting them. INESC organized workshops based on the principles of popular and art education, in which participation was vital to developing new knowledge, awareness, and the sensibility needed for social transformation. Through this playful approach, combining art and communication, participants were introduced to deeper concepts and discussions on human rights, budget formulation, budget monitoring, and democratic participation.

In addition to the school programs, INESC encouraged the scholars participating to attend other political spaces where public budget debates were taking place, such as city councils and the federal legislature. They were also encouraged to join children and teenage advocacy networks, enabling them to exercise the knowledge gained in the course of the project. A key success of the project was when, in 2009, those participating in the project met with law makers and public managers on the Federal District education budget. The children and teenagers, after conducting budget analysis, proposed a budget amendment for approximately one million US dollars. The amendment was passed, and funds were allocated to build sports courts and renovate schools. Through the use of solid evidence complemented by advocacy from the children themselves, law makers and public managers took their input seriously when finalizing the Federal District education budget.

A video of the students explaining the INESC's project

This is amazing!  Thanks, Helena for sharing this.  On the INESC website I found this video put together by the students themselves explaining the budget analysis project:

This video, titled 'Active youth - youngsters learning to fight for their rights' explains the INESC project with youth.  One student says: "We have the right to quality education but we are not getting it."  They learn about their rights, but they also learn tools to fight for their rights! They also study human rights from a public budget perspective.

The students also have interaction with their community and other communities - and even communities from other countries! Seven schools and more than 300 students in Brazil have been reached by this project. They are being invited by other schools to share what they have learned.

One student explains: "When teenagers understand their rights in general, they understand other rights, budgets, the ECA, the Statute of the Child and Adolescent. It is easier for them to demand what they should be receiving." The students were even contacted from four African countries!  The teacher explains: "This is an educational process that can easily be taken to other schools or other areas. The kids have already spread their knowledge into other areas for the benefit of the school."

Let's put this in every school!

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