Constituency Development Funds (CDFs)

Constituency Development Funds Turn Accountability on Its Head: Civil Society Groups from Five Countries Plan Advocacy by Jennifer Sleboda, International Budget Partnership

The Constituency Development Fund in Zambia by Alexander Chileshe, Economics Association of Zambia
Civil Society Response to the Constituency Development Catalyst Fund in Tanzania by Semkae Kilonzo, Policy Forum

India’s Constituency Development Fund by Sowmya Kidambi, Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan and International Budget Partnership

Health and Budgets

The Debate on National Health Insurance (NHI) in South Africa by Saranne Durham, Idasa, and Thokozile Madonko, International Budget Partnership

India’s Health Budget 2010-11: The Malaise Continues by Ravi Duggal, International Budget Partnership

Budget 2010: A Rocky Road Ahead for Public Finance in South Africa by Len Verwey, Idasa

Budget Transparency and Information Disclosure

The World Bank’s New Disclosure of Information Policy: How Can Civil Society Ensure Its Proper Implementation? by Amy Ekdawi, Bank Information Center

Budget Transparency in Morocco: It’s Possible… by Elena Mondo, International Budget Partnership

Publish What You Fund’s Aid Information Challenge

Online Tools and Resources

10 Tactics for Turning Information into Action by Philip Thigo, Social Development Network (SODNET)

Kenya’s New Electronic Project Monitoring System: Strengths and Weaknesses by Peter Kariuki, the Socio-Economic Rights Foundation

FAO’s New Resource: The Right to Food Methodological Toolbox by Ann Blyberg, International Human Rights Internship Program

UNIFEM Launches Gender Responsive Budgeting Portal

New Participatory Budgeting Google Group

Revenue Watch Institute’s New Database on the Transparent Management of Natural Resources

New Publications and Announcement

Overseas Development Institute’s New Report: Greater Aid Transparency: Crucial for Aid Effectiveness by Sam Moon and Tim Williamson

New Publication: The Deadly Ideas of Neoliberalism: How the IMF Has Undermined Public Health and the Fight Against AIDs by Rick Rowden

Publish What You Pay’s New Report: Publishing What We Learned: An Assessment of the Publish What You Pay Coalition by Mabel van Oranje and Henry Parham

Call for Contributions for the Research Project on Citizen Participation and Civic Action to Fight Corruption by Shaazka Beyerle, International Center on Nonviolent Conflict


Constituency Development Funds Turn Accountability on Its Head: Civil Society Groups from Five Countries Plan Advocacy by Jennifer Sleboda, International Budget Partnership

In February 2010 the International Budget Partnership (IBP) brought together representatives of civil society organizations (CSOs) from India, Kenya, Pakistan, Tanzania, and Zambia for a two-day meeting in Washington, D.C., to discuss Constituency Development Funds (CDFs). A CDF is a decentralized funding scheme in which the central government transfers funds to each constituency for local development projects. Under the scheme, legislators exercise control over the funds as well as the selection of projects. CDFs thus give legislators the authority to implement government programs, in violation of their constitutionally defined legislative and oversight roles. The purpose of the meeting was to share information on how CDFs operate in the countries represented and to discuss strategies for a campaign to amend or end existing schemes and stop the spread to other countries.

The IBP has committed to an international advocacy campaign on CDFs in response to its civil society partners’ strong interest in the issue. A number of partners are already involved in campaigns against CDFs due to legislators’ role in the scheme but also because CDFs are marked by corruption, mismanagement, and lack of oversight. These issues are critical as the spread of CDF schemes around the world increases (at least 15 countries have already implemented CDFs and a number of others are considering them) and the amount of public funds involved continues to grow.

As a first step the IBP commissioned research on the characteristics of and problems with existing CDFs. The resulting background paper examines CDFs in India, Kenya, Pakistan, the Philippines, Tanzania, and Uganda. The IBP then organized the CDF meeting to discuss the research findings, learn more about specific CDF schemes from its civil society partners, and develop a research agenda, objectives, and strategies for an advocacy campaign. The meeting began with a summary of the findings of the CDF scoping paper followed by presentations by IBP’s partners:

  • Sowmya Kidambi of Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS) and the IBP discussed the CDF in India. Established in 1994, the scheme provides each MP (member of parliament) and MLA (member of legislative assembly) with US$ 440,000 per year to spend on capital outlay projects in their constituencies. MPs and MLAs have the power to recommend development projects to district heads, and in selecting project sites, they tend to favor communities that voted for them. Monitoring committees have not been set up, as mandated by law, and district heads rarely inspect the projects. Also, the lack of coordination results in a significant amount of project duplication. To date, there is no campaign against the CDF in India, only isolated efforts by individual organizations working either to reform or scrap the scheme. (For more detailed information on the CDF in India and civil society’s response, see “India’s Constituency Development Fund” below.)
  • Hussein Khalid of Muslims for Human Rights (MUHURI) presented the issues surrounding Kenya’s CDF. Established in 2003, the CDF is allocated 2.5 percent of total government revenue annually. Each MP receives approximately US$ 1 million per year to spend on development projects in their constituency. Problems arising from the CDF include increased local-level corruption, substandard projects due to poor oversight, and the use of development funds as a political tool. In response, MUHURI has mobilized communities to monitor CDF funds through social audits. MUHURI believes that the CDF could be beneficial if the funds were taken away from the MPs and the CDF law was strengthened to prevent corruption and improve oversight. MUHURI has filed a court case challenging the constitutionality of the CDF based on the role of MPs in the fund.
  • Ali Asghar Khan of the Omar Asghar Khan Development Foundation provided an overview of the oldest existing CDF, which was established in Pakistan in 1985. Over US$ 19.5 million—equivalent to 70 percent of the country’s health budget—is disbursed to members of the national assembly (MNAs) and members of provincial assemblies (MPAs) each year. MNAs and MPAs recommend CDF infrastructure projects to district officials who submit them to district development committees for approval. The Foundation opposes the scheme because it compromises the lawmaking and oversight role of legislators, undermines local government, legitimizes clientelism between legislators and constituents, and weakens accountability and transparency.
  • Semkae Kilonzo of Policy Forum, and Irenei Kiria of Sikika, presented on Tanzania’s new Constituency Development Catalyst Fund (CDCF), which was approved by parliament in 2009. Civil society opposes the CDCF because it violates the constitutional separation of powers by providing funds directly to legislators to implement projects. Policy Forum will be monitoring the CDCF’s implementation and is also leading the campaign to abolish the scheme. (For more detailed information on the CDCF and civil society’s response, see “Civil Society Response to the Constituency Development Catalyst Fund in Tanzania” below.)
  • Alexander Chileshe of the Economics Association of Zambia (EAZ) discussed that country’s CDF. Established in 1995, Zambia’s CDF has grown from US$ 13,000 per constituency in 2006 to US$ 148,000 in 2010. CDF funds are controlled at the local level by the member of parliament who represents the constituency. The scheme is plagued by poor financial management, corruption, and lack of oversight. EAZ recommends that the CDF and the institutions managing it undergo urgent review and that the disbursement of funds be stopped during the review period. (For more detailed information on EAZ’s response to Zambia’s CDF, see “The Constituency Development Fund in Zambia” below.)

The meeting participants agreed that despite the variations in CDF schemes, they share the core problem of legislators playing a dominant role in controlling development funds, even in countries where the CDF guidelines specifically limit their role. Participants discussed what research would define or strengthen their campaigns against the CDF in their countries and developed a common research and advocacy agenda that focuses on these three interrelated issues:

  • the violation of the separation of powers between the legislature and the executive
  • the politicization of development due to legislators controlling the administration of development funds
  • the effect of the CDF on the performance of the legislature, particularly in its oversight function

To address the first issue, the IBP agreed to commission an expert to write a legal brief on CDFs, detailing how it breaches the separation of powers between the legislature and the executive. To address the second and third issues, each civil society partner committed to conduct research and collect evidence on development challenges caused by legislators’ role in the CDF as well as the challenges it poses to the legislature’s oversight role.

Finally, it was agreed that the two goals of an advocacy campaign would be to reform the CDF in countries where it already exists and to stop the spread of CDF-style schemes to other countries. The IBP committed to conduct exploratory work to determine potential international partners and targets for CDF advocacy.

Read the report of the Constituency Development Fund workshop organized by The State University of New York Center for International Development (SUNY/CID) on 8-9 December 2009. SUNY/CID’s project commissioned a set of case studies and other research to explore the development and operations of CDFs internationally.

For more information, contact Jennifer Sleboda [email protected].


The Constituency Development Fund in Zambia by Alexander Chileshe, Economics Association of Zambia

Zambia’s Constituency Development Fund (CDF) was approved by parliament in 1995 to finance community projects for poverty reduction. Under this initiative, the government allocates development funds each year to all 150 constituencies in the country. These funds are under the control of members of parliament (MPs), who are also members of the local constituency development committees (CDC) that review and recommend project proposals for the CDF.

According to the CDF guidelines, the local CDC receives project proposals from the sub-district level—area development committees, resident development committees, and community representatives—and refers them to the planning subcommittee of the district development coordinating committee (DDCC) for appraisal before recommending proposals to the district council for adoption.

Each district council is mandated to include CDF funds for local development projects in their capital budgets. The CDF is firmly embedded in the government’s decentralization policy and thus is one of the most significant transfers disbursed to district councils. The councils are required to account for these funds in accordance with Zambia’s Local Government Act of 1996.

The CDF in Zambia has grown from approximately US$ 13,000 per constituency in 2006 to US$ 148,000 in 2010, and there have been mounting calls for this amount to be increased even more. During the 2008 presidential campaign, President Rupiah Banda promised to raise the CDF to approximately US$ 225,000 per constituency while the opposition candidate talked about increasing it to around US$ 900,000, if elected. Clearly, resources for these kinds of increases would be difficult to identify in Zambia’s budget in any given year.

Citizens have expressed concern over these ever-increasing amounts: “I wonder how the government can afford to send K1bn (US$ 225,000) to each constituency but refuse to bear responsibility for unpaid Council workers’ salaries, which in some Councils are now going on 21 months . . . pay Council staff their salaries before you continue sending CDF” (Zambian Prophet, October 26, 2008).

According to the CDF guidelines, the purpose of the CDF is to empower local communities by providing funds for agriculture, health, social services, education, and other community needs. A few beneficial projects have been completed, such as two new bridges that were constructed by the Katete district council in 2008. At the same time, there are a large number of projects that have wasted funds, such as goat-rearing projects where not a single goat was found during the audit.

Corruption is perhaps the most troubling aspect of the CDF. Poor financial management, abuse and misuse of funds, and complete disregard for the CDF guidelines and the Local Government Act are the order of the day. In 2008 the central government released only US$ 10.2 million out of the planned US$ 11.1 million for the CDF because of the failure by some constituencies to account for 2007 CDF funds. There also appears to be no central database with information on the projects and programs that have been implemented since the CDF’s inception. The paper-based archive system has failed disastrously—data from 1995 to 2005 is not available. Much more needs to be done in practice to improve the management, use, and monitoring of these funds. As currently implemented, the CDF represents a cost to society and, contrary to its stated goals, entrenches poverty.

Another negative consequence of the CDF, resulting from MPs’ control over the funds, is that it has become a political tool to reward loyal voters. It was, therefore, not surprising that the 2008 CDF budget was released two weeks before the 2008 presidential elections.

The EAZ recommends that the CDF and the institutions managing it undergo urgent review, and that CDF disbursements be halted during the review period. Furthermore, a central database for CDF projects should be established and housed in the Ministry of Local Government and Housing. Strong mechanisms for increased accountability and transparency also need to be implemented. Lastly, the authority of the local CDCs (of which the MP is a member) over the use of CDF funds should be transferred to the Department of Planning and the District Development Coordinating Committee.

For more information, contact Alexander Chileshe [email protected].


Civil Society Response to the Constituency Development Catalyst Fund in Tanzania by Semkae Kilonzo, Policy Forum

In July 2009 the National Assembly of the United Republic of Tanzania passed the Constituency Development Catalyst Fund Act of 2009 (CDCF Act 2009), which established the CDCF. The fund is managed in each constituency by a CDCF committee, which is chaired by the member of parliament (MP) representing the area. The CDCF committee initiates and supervises implementation and generally coordinates all designated development projects at the constituency level.

The first attempt to pass the CDCF Act was in 2007, when the government allocated US$ 5.8 million in that year’s budget for the fund. The allocation for the recently enacted CDCF is currently unknown.

Not surprisingly, MPs in Tanzania overwhelmingly supported the CDCF, claiming that it would provide a democratic mechanism to empower citizens and would be financed locally and not by donors. The MPs argued that they already act as “ATM machines” in their constituencies and are perceived as project managers by voters. They also reasoned that they should have discretionary funds to spend in their constituencies since regional and district commissioners have them. Since 2010 is an election year, MPs’ ability to deliver CDCF funds to their constituencies no doubt also played a role in their efforts to enact the CDCF.

Civil society organizations (CSOs) in Tanzania reject the CDCF because the MPs’ role in the fund violates Article 4 of the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania of 1977, which provides for the separation of powers between the legislature, the executive, and the judiciary to ensure checks and balances. Further, Article 63 of the Constitution describes the function of the legislature as a “grand inquisitor,” which scrutinizes and monitors government’s activities. Therefore, MPs are supposed to conduct their oversight role by monitoring the work of executive agencies. This role will be seriously jeopardized when MPs take on the function of the executive by managing public funds and implementing projects.

Another problem with the CDCF is that it establishes parallel systems at the district level and increases the workload of district officials, without providing additional funds to the local government.

To counter the public’s perception of MPs as philanthropists, civil society in Tanzania needs to raise awareness about MPs’ proper lawmaking and oversight roles. At the same time, MPs should work to improve the performance of existing local funding mechanisms, such as local capital development and capacity building grants and the Tanzania Social Action Fund, rather than setting up new ones. Civil society also recommends that MPs increase their capacity to conduct research and analysis in order to better perform their proper legislative and oversight tasks.

In response to the CDCF’s violation of the separation of powers, a coalition of CSOs led by Policy Forum and the Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC) decided to challenge the constitutionality of the CDCF Act 2009 in court. This process aims to achieve:

  • Legal articulation of the separation of powers of the three branches of government and clarification by the court of the functions, duties, and limitations of each branch
  • Observance by each branch of government of their proper duties, improvements in democracy and good governance, fewer power struggles between the legislature and the executive, and better development outcomes
  • A declaration that the enactment of the CDCF Act 2009 is outside of the constitutional powers of parliament and thus null and void
  • An order that the CDCF Act 2009 be struck off the statute books of Tanzania
  • Relief from the misuse of public funds by the CDCF and a lesson to parliament not to enact unconstitutional laws in the future

While challenging the constitutionality of the CDCF, Policy Forum and its civil society partners also intend to monitor the implementation of the CDCF to gather evidence on how the funds are being used and its impact on development and local governance.

For more information, contact Semkae Kilonzo at [email protected].


India’s Constituency Development Fund by Sowmya Kidambi, Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan and International Budget Partnership

The Member of Parliament/Member of Legislative Assembly Local Area Development Scheme (MP/MLA-LADS) in India was established in 1994. The purpose of this scheme, which creates a separate fund each for MPs and MLAs, is to delegate authority to and empower MPs and MLAs to recommend development projects in their respective constituencies with an emphasis on creation of durable community assets (e.g., school buildings, water pipelines, etc.) based on local needs. MPs and MLAs view it as a scheme for the public good.

The MP-LADS provides each MP with approximately US$ 445,000 to spend during the financial year. However, the amount allocated to each MLA differs from state to state. For example, MLAs in the state of Rajasthan get approximately US$ 134,000 per year, while the MLAs in Andhra Pradesh get approximately US$ 111,000 per year. These funds are drawn from the government’s consolidated fund through an annual appropriation, and the works chosen and recommended by MPs and MLAs can be mandatory or discretionary. The MP-LADS is a centrally sponsored scheme administered by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, while the MLA-LADS is administered at the state level.

In 1993 two significant amendments to India’s Constitution were made, which decentralized the government’s authority and duties and created local political bodies. The democratization and fiscal empowerment of local political bodies was intended to create institutions that would be more accountable to local citizens and more responsive to local needs. Municipal Corporations and Gram Panchayats (Village Councils), the by-products of these amendments, are the key local bodies in India.

The MP/MLA-LADS grew out of this decentralization agenda. One of the arguments in support of the scheme was that MPs and MLAs were often asked by their constituents to implement small projects. To get these necessary works done quickly, MPs and MLAs needed to have funds available to use at their discretion.

Under the scheme, each MLA and MP has a choice of which works to recommend to the District Head. Following the procedures established in the scheme’s guidelines, the recommended works are then implemented either by a government department or local body which the District Head deems most suitable to execute the work.

The problem is that MPs and MLAs are not local authorities, but rather are elected to perform legislative and oversight functions. Likewise, Municipal Councillors are only responsible for maintenance and repair works at the municipality level. This scheme, therefore, increases the overlap of the functions of local bodies and, due to the multiplicity of authorities, no decentralization really takes place.

While it was envisaged that the MP/MLA-LADS would create durable community assets, there is some disagreement over what type of durable assets the funds should be used to develop. MP/MLA-LADS projects in rural areas include roads, drains, and school classrooms, while those in urban areas include footpaths and parks, among others. However, many believe that such projects as footpaths, roads, drains, and parks, though durable community assets should be left to local government bodies. MP/MLA-LADS funds would be better used for such projects as midday meal centers, crèches, subways, hostels for working women, sports complexes, garbage collection centers, bus shelters, and public shelters for the old and disabled.

The MP/MLA-LADS prohibits MPs and MLAs from using the funds to purchase inventory or equipment, undertake repair and maintenance works, construct memorials, implement works in religious institutions, acquire land, or carry out projects for individual benefit.

However, the Comptroller and Auditor General’s Report (CAG Report 2005) states that 80 percent of works implemented under the MP/MLA-LADS were primarily repair and maintenance projects, while others involved religious institutions and benefits to individuals. These findings indicate blatant misuse of the scheme.

Furthermore, the CAG Report 2005 found that 72 percent of the works recommended by MLAs from 2000 to 2005 were for improvement of assets like roads, lanes, and drainage systems. The report explained that road improvement, the preferred project of MLAs, actually comes under the purview of the municipality or public works department.

Another problem is that many MLAs and MPs let the funds lie unused for several years, since the funds can be rolled over, and then spend them just before elections—a clear demonstration of how the MP/MLA-LADS contributes to clientelism and the politicization of development.

In 2007 the Second Administrative Reform Commission in India favored scrapping the MP/MLA-LADS, arguing that the scheme “seriously erodes the notion of separation of powers, as the legislator directly becomes the executive.”

A case filed in the Supreme Court of India in 1999 by the director of Common Cause India seeks to abolish the scheme on the grounds that it is unconstitutional and discriminatory and leads to rampant misuse of funds. The matter is still under judgment. In the meantime, the MP-LADS scheme alone has been a drain on India’s financial resources to the tune of approximately US$ 445 million per year.

There have been various attempts by activists and civil society organizations to track how LADS funds allocated to an MP or MLA have been used. The greatest obstacle they have encountered is accessing information on the actual expenditure incurred, as opposed to consolidated information on expenditure. This is in spite of India’s Right to Information Act, which specifies that all information must be made available to the public on demand.

While many organizations are attempting to access MP/MLA-LADS information to ensure transparency and accountability, monitor how the funds are spent, and evaluate the performance of an MP or MLA before elections, there are no consolidated efforts taking place. The individual efforts by organizations and activists primarily have focused on establishing transparency and accountability norms for the scheme.

For more information, contact Sowymya Kidambi at [email protected].


The Debate on National Health Insurance (NHI) in South Africa by Saranne Durham, Idasa, and Thokozile Madonko, International Budget Partnership

Since 1994 South Africa has undertaken the complex task of restructuring its public health system. The past 16 years have seen substantial improvements in policy and legislation toward universal health care access in line with the government’s constitutional duty. The South African Constitution states that “everyone has the right to access health care services,” thus the South African government is obliged to progressively realize the access to quality health care within the available means.

However, while real increases in public health spending have occurred, the impact of such spending has been undermined by South Africa’s quadruple disease burden (i.e., HIV/AIDS, lifestyle diseases, poverty-related conditions, and injury). In order to further extend health care services and address the current inequities, the South African government argues for the need to introduce innovative financing mechanisms, including a combination of public funding with some of the current private sector funding redirected into the public sector purse.

The inequality between the private and public health sectors in South Africa is quite significant. Approximately 15 percent of South Africans are covered by private medical schemes and secure most of their health services from the private sector. An additional 20 percent pays out-of-pocket for private primary health care services but continues to depend on the public sector for hospital care, particularly inpatient care. The remaining 65 percent of the population is entirely dependent on the failing and grossly inadequate public sector for all their health care services.

An important part of the health reform debate in South Africa centers on the introduction of a National Health Insurance (NHI) system. The limited information about any plans for a NHI system reflect scarce or no public or stakeholder participation at all. To date, no official documentation exists on the proposed NHI, despite the fact that two unofficial documents have been leaked to the public. These documents propose a South African NHI that would provide a universal, comprehensive, and free health care package.

Broad-based, public, and stakeholder participation is necessary for the NHI to be successfully designed and implemented in South Africa. In addition, the NHI should not be viewed as a panacea for both financing shortfalls and health service deficiencies but as a mechanism for ensuring that maximum available resources are used to realize the constitutional right to health care, particularly primary health care in South Africa.


India’s Health Budget 2010-11: The Malaise Continues by Ravi Duggal, International Budget Partnership

The Budget Context

The national budget of India for fiscal year 2010-11 was publicized on 26 February 2010 in a context where food inflation is over 22 percent. Finance Minister (FM) Pranab Mukherjee declared that the “budget cannot be a mere statement of government accounts. It has to reflect the government’s vision and signal the policies to come in the future. With development and economic reforms, the focus of economic activity has shifted toward nongovernmental actors, bringing into sharper focus the role of government as an enabler. An enabling government does not try to deliver directly to the citizens everything that they need. Instead it creates an enabling ethos so that individual enterprise and creativity can flourish. Government concentrates on supporting and delivering services to the disadvantaged sections of society.”

For the first time since the economic reforms began, the government has openly acknowledged the intention to abdicate development to the private domain and become an enabler. In response to this, the FM anticipates three challenges:

  • Going back to high economic growth of 9 percent or more
  • Making development more inclusive—specifically for food security, education, and health
  • Making the public system, governance, and delivery mechanisms efficient, effective, transparent, and responsive

The FM further states, “For the government inclusive development is an act of faith. In the last five years, our government has created entitlements backed by legal guarantees for an individual’s right to information and right to work. This has been followed with the enactment of the right to education in 2009-10 and the Food Security Bill draft, which will be published soon. To fulfill these commitments, social spending has gradually increased to Rs.1,37,674 crore, which now stands at 37 percent of the total plan outlay in 2010-11. Another 25 percent of the planned allocations are devoted to the development of rural infrastructure. With the growth and opportunities that it generates, we hope to further strengthen the process of inclusive development.”

Health Budget Estimates

The total allocation for health by the national government is estimated at Rs. 251.54 billion. This is barely 0.36 percent of the projected GDP. But it represents about 28 percent of the total national public health expenditure (estimated at Rs. 625 billion for 2010-11) because states contribute nearly 75 percent. 40 percent of the government’s health budget is for grants implemented by state governments. However, the total health budget as a proportion of the GDP is hitting a low of 0.89 percent of GDP, which is even lower according to actual expenditures.

In general, expenditure data for previous years reveal that actual expenditures tend to be even lower than budget estimates. Although the budget estimates for 2010-11 may seem higher over the previous fiscal year by nearly 14 percent; actual expenditures are likely to be much lower. Moreover, if we consider an inflation of over 9 percent, this increase is not too impressive.

For the first time budget 2010-11 presents the amount of external aid within the line budgets of the ministries. This is an important step in terms of transparency as it allows seeing where donor interests are when it comes to financing health budgets.


This is the second term of India’s United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government. At the end of their first tenure the UPA managed to take public health spending barely to 1 percent of GDP, not even close to their target of 2-3 percent of GDP. The rural public health system continues to suffer due to the lack of doctors and nurses, the inadequate supply of medicine, poor maintenance, etc. Furthermore, the reasonably robust urban public health system has begun to collapse with the rapid growth and expansion of the private sector and support of private health insurance. Thus the inadequate public investment in health during the previous UPA regime led to the boom of private health care, which has now jumped to 5.5 percent of GDP. Private insurance covers barely 2 percent of the population. Most of this expenditure is out-of-pocket, which posed a significant burden on households who often have to sell assets or take loans to cover their hospitalization needs.

The first UPA administration failed to make any significant impact on public health care and the current budget shows how unlikely it will be for the second UPA administration to achieve any results. The present budget allocations will not address the problems mentioned above without undergoing a substantial assessment and redesign of the current financing strategy. The failure is both political and bureaucratic, i.e., there is a lack of political will to push radical reforms and inadequate bureaucratic capacity to facilitate structural changes. Meanwhile Thailand, a country with similar characteristics to India, is undergoing a major transformation where social insurance and increased public financing reached universal access, assuring equitable access to basic health care for all. If Thailand could do it then why can’t UPA do it for India? The answer has to do with creating a regulatory mechanism along with a “single-payer” financing strategy to accommodate the public and private realities of the health care system. A single-payer mechanism essentially establishes a public health insurance system that uses funds more efficiently by reducing the administrative overhead costs and is more effective at providing universal access to care by spreading costs and risks across the entire population.

Although the FM’s strategy of government as an enabler needs to be reinterpreted; it should not translate into abdicating state responsibility to the private sector—as seen in the budget so far. The FM’s strategy should be interpreted as actively engaging the private sector to deliver public health goals by regulating and reining them into a public contract. The first eight months of the second UPA regime do not show an inclination toward this end, meaning that for civil society there is a long way ahead to get the UPA to achieve universal access to basic health care.

For more information, contact Ravi Duggal at [email protected].

Budget 2010: A Rocky Road Ahead for Public Finance in South Africa by Len Verwey, Idasa

Although the South African economy emerged relatively quickly from recession in the wake of the global financial crisis, the medium-term outlook is far from rosy. Tax revenue will probably take some time to recover, leaving the fiscal authorities with little choice but to run larger deficits over the next few years if spending commitments are to be fulfilled. In fact, the South African debt stock is projected to increase from about 23 percent of GDP to more than 40 percent by 2013. Even with increased borrowing, the budget for 2010 proposed very small real increases in public spending. Given that many South Africans remain heavily reliant on public spending for their welfare, the next few years are likely to be hard for household well being.

The 2010 budget continues to allocate a sizeable share of available resources to health, education, and social protection with the latter taking the form of means-tested social grants, such as the child support grant and the state pension. The social grants now represent slightly more than 3 percent of GDP in South Africa with beneficiary numbers increasing both as a result of recession-induced poverty and the extension of the eligibility age for the child support grant.

Direct income transfers—such as the grants—have a fairly clear impact on the well being of households. However, as we can see in programmatic social spending on education and health, South Africa continues to struggle to achieve the desired outcomes for which funds are allocated. In South Africa education and health indicators are often quite poor relative to those of countries with similar resource endowments.

Achieving more with the same resources should be a key part of the budget debate in the coming weeks and months. Achieving “value for money”—the popular term used by government, civil society, and legislators to indicate that expenditure has resulted in the desired outcome—will require them to be both able and willing to ensure accountability for budget performance. Attaining better value for money not only means reducing corruption but also the “bells and whistles” of departmental spending. It means ensuring that policies reflect social needs very clearly. A key way to achieve this is by ensuring adequate citizen participation in the drafting, implementation, and evaluation of policies.

South Africa still has a high unemployment rate and an economy that struggles to move away from relying on commodity exports for its growth. The 2010 budget focuses on unemployment and made several suggestions for addressing the problem, including a subsidy to encourage firms to employ young inexperienced workers. Another suggestion is that some parts of South Africa’s fairly strong labor legislation are reviewed to promote job creation. Such suggestions, however, were criticized by the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), which is adamantly opposed to any reduction in either the labor rights of workers or the minimum wage.

For the last three or four years public infrastructure spending has increased as a share of the budget. In the initial post-1994 years— as in the last years of apartheid— infrastructure spending was inadequate and a degree of deindustrialization occurred. As a result, the South African economy experiences bottlenecks in transport and energy infrastructure during its high growth periods. Although infrastructure spending needs to be prioritized, there are concerns about the current efficiency and effectiveness of such spending, as well as the transparency and integrity of procurement processes. This situation raises the importance of legislative and civil society oversight in budget implementation. South African public finance is currently transparent enough to enable robust oversight: not only budget documentation but also in-year spending reports and auditor-general reports can be obtained fairly easily. However, a robust culture of engagement between legislature and executive, and between government and civil society is still lacking.

Despite some expectations from the left, the budget was clear in retaining South Africa’s commitment to inflation-targeting as a framework for monetary policy. The left had asked the central bank to broaden its mandate to include more direct consideration of growth and employment objectives. It is likely that these debates will continue over the next few years.

In 2009 the South African Parliament finally passed legislation on the Money Bills Amendment Act, which gives it constitutional power to amend the executive’s budget. The 2010 budget is the first test-case of this legislation and of Parliament’s enhanced authority. However, it is still busy developing the institutional capacity to fulfill this role effectively. One outstanding requirement is to establish an independent and capable budget office to provide committee support.

South Africa experienced strong growth and a resource-flushed budget from 2003 to 2007. Much was done over this period to alleviate poverty, including the extension of the child support grant, the extension of household infrastructure to formerly excluded communities, and the prioritization of health and education spending. However, the challenges of unemployment and inequality in particular remain acute. Over the next few years it will be vital to make inroads in this regard, even though real public resources will not increase. Policies must be pro-poor and based on the real needs of the citizens, and policy implementation needs to be efficient and effective. Civil society has an important role to play both in helping to ensure that policy is pro-poor and in monitoring and evaluating the implementation. All stakeholders in South Africa need to play their part for the social recovery from the recession to be fast and sustainable.

To read the full Idasa report prepared by Len Verwey, Saranne Durham, and Musa Zamisa, go to:


The World Bank’s New Disclosure of Information Policy: How Can Civil Society Ensure Its Proper Implementation? by Amy Ekdawi, Bank Information Center

On 17 November 2010 the World Bank’s board of directors approved a new disclosure policy titled “Toward Greater Transparency Through Access to Information: The World Bank’s Disclosure Policy,” which becomes effective on 1 July 2010. The revised policy breaks important new ground, not only for the World Bank but for all international financial institutions (IFIs), as it accepts for the first time the principle that all Bank information should be available to the public, unless it falls within the scope of a narrow set of exceptions.

History of Disclosure of Information at the Bank

Timely access to World Bank documents and decision making has been a key concern of civil society organizations (CSOs) for a long time. In the 1980s and 1990s CSOs targeted the World Bank for financing environmentally and socially destructive projects. It was discovered that the Bank withheld vital information from affected communities, denying them the right to participate in decisions regarding the purpose, design, and implementation of projects.

Faced with mounting criticism, in 1985 the Bank adopted its first disclosure rules. In 1991 CSOs pushed the Bank to release environmental assessments prior to the approval of projects, and in 1993 the Bank adopted a formal information disclosure policy, which introduced Project Information Documents (PIDs) as a result of civil society’s pressure and a threat from the U.S. Congress to withhold funds. PIDs were released prior to the approval of a project and expanded the access to project appraisals after approval. In 2001 the Bank revised its disclosure policy for the first time and released documents on structural adjustment loans (though only after loans were approved), completion reports, and the board’s calendar. However, the 2001 policy, which became effective a year later, had many gaps:

  • While the policy acknowledged the principle of presumption of disclosure, it was in fact contradictory to this principle.
  • The Bank provided a “positive list” of documents that were to be disclosed. For everything not listed there was a general presumption of nondisclosure.
  • The old policy contained a list of disclosure exceptions, which were so broadly written that they could justify withholding nearly any type of information.
  • There was virtually no implementation information.
  • The information request system lacked an appeal mechanism for denied information requests.

The New Policy

On 17 November 2009 the revised policy was approved. This was achieved after a year-long review process and meetings in 33 countries with citizens, government representatives, CSOs, private sector representatives, academia, international organizations, and donor agencies. The new policy adopts five key principles:

  • Maximizing access to information, thus adopting a “negative list” instead of a “positive list” as in the old policy
  • A clear list of “exceptions” to information disclosure
  • Safeguarding the deliberative process
  • Clear procedures for disclosing information
  • A right to appeal

The policy also recognizes the importance of translating certain information into local languages and promises the examination of the Bank’s existing “translation framework” to “ensure more equitable access by all interested parties to the disclosed documents.”

Gains and Gaps

In addition to adopting a “negative list,” for the first time the new policy expands routine disclosure to include documents created during the implementation phase of the projects and programs. This will allow civil society to play a more active role in ensuring the proper implementation of Bank-funded activities. The policy also increases the access to the Bank’s analytic and advisory activity reports. Furthermore, a system of requests of information will be created to include internal and external mechanisms of appeal.

However, the new policy is far from ideal. One major weakness is the absolute protection of internal information through a “deliberative process”—an exception that can withhold draft information and undermine civil society participation in decision-making processes. Another barrier is the veto power given to governments and third parties, i.e., Bank contractors that allow governments to block the release of almost any information they provide to the Bank.

Implementation of the New Policy

The new policy will become effective on 1 July 2010. To facilitate the transition, the Bank developed a detailed implementation plan upon policy approval, and an Access to Information Working Group (AIWG) was established under the supervision of the external affairs vice presidency of the Bank to implement the policy. The AIWG comprises seven subgroups:

  • The policy/handbook subgroup: Will develop the policy statement, internal guidelines, and the staff handbook
  • The classification subgroup: Will set criteria for classification and declassification of Bank’s documents
  • The IT systems and services subgroup: Will offer technical support
  • The communication subgroup: Will ensure that both Bank’s staff and external stakeholders understand the policy and its requirements
  • The training subgroup: Will develop the training programs for the proper implementation of the policy
  • The translation subgroup: Will examine the existing Bank’s translation framework and determine how to ensure the accessibility of certain Bank’s information to citizens who are not necessarily fluent in the Bank’s working language: English
  • The public information subgroup: Will strengthen public information services and access to information on the ground

The Role of Civil Society in the Transition Period

In recognition of civil society as an important stakeholder affected by the information disclosure policy, the Bank invited the Washington, D.C.-based Bank Information Center (BIC) and International Budget Partnership (IBP), as well as the “Centro de Derechos Humanos y Ambiente” (CEDHA) of Argentina to participate in the implementation planning of this policy. The group meets regularly with AIWG’s general secretariat and with individual subgroups as needed.

The World Bank believes that the aforementioned organizations—with their experience on the ground as members of wider networks and through their ongoing outreach to CSOs in many developing countries—can make substantive contributions to the translation, communications, training, and public information subgroups. The three organizations plan to seek input from their partners around the world on various aspects of this policy to better represent a wider cross-section of CSOs from developing countries when providing advice to the Bank’s AIWG.

For more information, contact Amy Ekdawi at [email protected].


Budget Transparency in Morocco: It’s Possible… by Elena Mondo, International Budget Partnership

Transparency Morocco has recently published an article in the economic journal La Revue Economia that presents the results of the Open Budget Survey 2008. The article discusses the reasons for the mediocre performance of Morocco and recommends how to improve the level of budget transparency in this country.

Access to information and social control are fundamental to a healthy democracy. They put pressure on governments to ensure greater efficiency in the use of public funds and identify and correct resource mismanagement and corruption practices. The Open Budget Survey reports on the state of transparency in the world, measured as public access to timely and accurate budget information. In a global context where budget transparency overall appears very poor, Morocco provides only minimal information to its citizens. Although Morocco’s score has slightly improved since the previous assessment in 2006, a number of flaws in its budget systems still exist:

  • The government does not produce or publish a Citizens Budget
  • The Mid-year Review is not made publicly available
  • the Audit Report is not published
  • Fiscal data is presented in aggregate (revenue and expenditure), lacking sufficient detail
  • The government does not provide multi-year information in the budget proposal
  • Parliament has limited power to amend the government’s budget
  • There is a significant presence of secret and extra-budget funds
  • There is a lack of interest in regulatory law
  • There is no Access to Information law, which contributes to the poor state of fiscal transparency

The government of Morocco provides minimal relevant budget information, which does not allow citizens to clearly understand what is included in the budget or to hold the government responsible for the management of public funds. Access to detailed budget information on revenues and expenditures is very limited or nonexistent, which makes it difficult to monitor tax collection, spending, and borrowing during the year. Furthermore, audit recommendations are not implemented, which adds to the lack of accountability and makes it nearly impossible to assess how the budget has been spent. Parliamentary oversight is weak and ineffective, while the executive dominance over the entire budget process is overwhelming. There are in fact many cases of extra-budget funds that are outside legislative and citizen control.

What Can Be Done?

In Morocco, immediate improvements are possible if these suggestions were to be implemented:

  • Prepare and release a Pre-Budget Statement, a Mid-Year Review, and a Citizens Budget
  • Include multi-year estimates (e.g., for the budget year and those immediately preceding it and following it) and a sensitivity analysis in the budget proposal
  • Introduce and enact a law on public access to information
  • Consult the parliament and the public about budget priorities
  • Release information already available internally (on the distribution of the tax burden, and the conditions associated with international financial assistance)
  • Improve the quality and relevance of the budget information already available to the public
  • Organize public hearings to improve citizen participation in the budget process
  • Strengthen the independence of the court of auditors by increasing its human and financial resources and releasing follow-up reports

Significant progress can be made quickly at low or no cost. From 2006 to 2008 many governments published information that they already produced for internal purposes or for international donors, produced new information, and supplemented already published documents with additional information. Morocco should be no exception!

For more information, contact Elena Mondo at [email protected].


 Publish What You Fund’s Aid Information Challenge

The Aid Information Challenge organized by Publish What You Fund, Development Gateway, The Open Knowledge Foundation, 2Paths, and aidinfo will bring together international development practitioners, leading developers, and programmers in events around the world to develop and enhance tools for transparency and suggest ways to publicize and utilize the information available in World Bank, DfID, and AidData datasets. The goal is to increase the understanding, availability, and accessibility of timely, comprehensive, and comparable information about aid.

The first event of the Aid Information Challenge was held in Washington, D.C., on March 6, and the second one was held in London on April 10. These events are only one step in the process of increasing transparency. Much work needs to be done before, during, and after these events to make data as user-friendly, comparable, and multi-functional as possible.

For more information on the Aid Information Challenge contact [email protected].


 10 Tactics for Turning Information into Action by Philip Thigo, Social Development Network (SODNET)

The 10 Tactics Toolkit for Turning Information into Action includes a film and a complementary set of cards that present stories from more than 35 human rights advocates who have successfully used information and digital technologies to create positive changes in society. The toolkit was created in February 2009 as a result of the Info-Activism Camp organized by Tactical Tech ( in Bangalore, India. The camp was an intensive seven day hands-on workshop that brought together 130 advocates from Africa, Latin America, Middle East, and Asia to implement digital advocacy tactics.

Featured alongside blockbuster hit Avatar on the BBC radio program, Digital Planet, and described as a “must-see” by The Ecologist, the film from the toolkit has been screened in over 50 countries and is quickly becoming an essential companion for all active members of civil society worldwide. The film draws on the experience of 25 human rights advocates that have used social media to mobilize popular actions. Some advocates used Facebook to illustrate inadequate infrastructure in hospitals and schools, and others used SMS to verify information when developing citizens’ report cards. More specifically, the INFONET Program of the Social Development Network (SODNET) in Kenya used SMS to provide citizens with opportunities to ask budget transparency questions.

SODNET’s SMS tool allows members of the public to ask for budget information and engage with the authorities through evidence-based questions. It enables citizens to inquire about budget allocations for education, health, water, and social infrastructure. The tool offers project and funding data (particularly regarding the Constituency Development Fund, CDF) for citizens and activists to use in evidence-based advocacy at the local level. For example, a young lady used the SMS tool and found out that millions had been awarded to her constituency. She then went to a cyber café and found out the exact amount allocated to her school. With her parents’ support she used the evidence to engage with the school administration and ask where the money was, who had received it, what criteria was used to distribute it, and how come she did not receive any.

To date SODNET’s budget tracking system is being used throughout Kenya, receiving over 4,500 SMS hits a month and 200 Internet hits a day, and has been requested by researchers in Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda. The data is layered on Google Maps where available and on Open Street Maps ( to provide location-based information.
To watch the film or to request the 10 Tactics Toolkit, go to:
For more information on the 10 Tactics screening in Kenya, contact [email protected].


Kenya’s New Electronic Project Monitoring System: Strengths and Weaknesses by Peter Kariuki, the Socio-Economic Rights Foundation

In an effort to increase transparency and accountability around donor-funded projects and programs, the Kenyan government has unveiled its new e-ProMIS (Electronic Project Monitoring Information System) software. This electronic monitoring and evaluation system is in line with the transparency requirements detailed by the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness. The e-ProMIS technology is a product of Synergy International Systems, a U.S. company, and will be implemented jointly by Access Kenya Group, Synergy’s local Kenyan partner. This technology will track and analyze aid flows and make this information accessible to the public. Every government ministry can use the e-ProMIS software to monitor and evaluate project performance at each stage. With the aim of building capacity, a one week in-depth training was held in January for staff from all 42 government ministries.

This article outlines the strengths and weaknesses of the e-ProMIS software from a civil society perspective and evaluates whether it will be helpful to efforts by civil society and the public to monitor public budgets.

The following are the key strengths of the e-ProMIS system:

  • It has been customized to meet the specific requirements of the Government of Kenya. Thus it will serve as a reliable and credible source of information on overall donor contributions to Kenya’s reconstruction, economic recovery, and socio-economic development. It also will support the government in effectively managing development assistance and promoting the accountable and transparent use of resources.
  • The technology will enhance the ability of implementing agencies to provide timely and accurate reports that are critical for continued project funding.
  • Government staff members can now perform their daily tasks much more efficiently. For example, they can update project information online and generate on-the-fly reports in a matter of seconds.
  • It will enable the public to access information on donor- and government-funded projects, including commencement date, contractor in charge, progress updates, cost, funds spent at particular stages, and completion date.
  • Implementing agencies will now receive timely and accurate reports, on a real-time basis, eliminating cases of delayed disbursements of funds.

In spite of these strengths, effective transparency and accountability with regard to project funding and implementation in Kenya are hindered by a number of factors.  These include the legal framework that regulates transparency in government projects and spending, the practice of budget management, the willingness of the public to demand information, and their capacity to fully scrutinize and use it. It remains to be seen whether the e-ProMIS technology will be able to address these challenges.

It also is important to note that in 2004 the government set up the National Integrated Monitoring and Evaluation System (NIMES). NIMES has the objective of streamlining and strengthening existing monitoring and evaluation systems in order to provide credible and holistic information from national, sectoral and district levels. Ultimately, it was intended to enhance the foundation for evidence-based policymaking and result-oriented management and is, therefore, instrumental for achieving the goals of Vision 2030 (the government’s national development plan). Information from NIMES is used to review the performance of government programs and strategies and to inform decision making, resource allocation, and revision of strategies in a bid to make government more accountable to its citizens.

These issues raise a number of concerns about the e-ProMIS system:

  • It is not clear how e-ProMIS links with the NIMES framework. This is despite the fact that these frameworks are anchored on a clear policy framework for empowering citizens to access information.
  • Traditionally, generating information related to the budget and program implementation has been expensive, and presentation formats make its scrutiny difficult for parliamentarians, civil society, and the media. The question of user-friendliness and accessibility of the e-ProMIS may pose a challenge to the willingness of these crucial actors to interact with the information. There will be a need for public information campaigns on how ordinary citizens can take advantage of the available information.
  • While advice and conditions of donor aid are sometimes published, there is still a lot that does not reach the public domain. In practice, not all information is available to the public on the use of donor funds and their outputs and outcomes. Project completion rates are not readily made public. To be effective, e-ProMIS must be linked with a public verification process, as publicizing the amount of funds spent on given projects is only one aspect of accountability. Budget monitoring is not only about analyzing inputs but also budget processes, allocation uptake, efficacy, outcomes, and impact. The participation of intended beneficiaries in monitoring and accountability processes can strengthen the e-ProMIS system.
  • Lastly, in the absence of clear linkages with the NIMES framework, it is not clear how e-ProMIS will link to the policy-making process. It is uncertain whether it has the capacity to generate comprehensive and structured project information tailored to the needs of policymakers, development partners, civil society, and the public.

For all efforts on budget transparency and accountability to succeed on a sustainable basis, all players and institutions involved need to develop capacity. To improve transparency and accountability, a system of sustainable checks and balances is essential. The e-ProMIS technology certainly contributes to this, but in order for it to be successful, it needs to be mainstreamed into the existing monitoring and evaluation systems and anchored on a clear platform of public participation.

For more information, please contact Peter Kariuki at [email protected].


FAO’s New Resource: The Right to Food Methodological Toolbox by Ann Blyberg, International Human Rights Internship Program

The Right to Food Unit of the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) has produced a very valuable resource to assist the efforts of the many individuals, organizations, and institutions distressed by the persistence of hunger and malnutrition in the world. The Right to Food Methodological Toolbox is a series of five books, each of which tackles one dimension of the work that needs to be done by governments and civil society to reduce hunger and malnutrition. While the last book in the series focuses on budget analysis, the others address areas of governance and rights protection, which budget analysts agree are necessary complements to budget work.

  • Book 1 is a Guide on Legislating for the Right to Food. Laws are critical embodiments of human rights in that they affirm the existence of those rights, provide standards by which to assess the realization of rights, and specify recourses through which individuals can claim their rights. The book includes a systematic discussion on how to develop or reform constitutional provisions and laws related to agriculture, food and nutrition programs, land, water, and other spheres to realize the right to food.
  • Book 2 (in two volumes) is Methods to Monitor the Human Rights to Adequate Food. This book was developed in recognition of the fact that realization of any right requires vigilance: keeping an eye on as well as assessing what a government is doing to realize rights and bringing findings to the attention of a broad audience to build pressure on the government to implement improvements. The book includes an inventory of the different government processes and programs that affect the right to food and that thus need to be monitored. It also delineates useful methodologies for doing so.
  • Book 3 is a Guide to Conducting a Right to Food Assessment, mostly directed to governments, who are first and foremost responsible for the realization of rights. Effective action to reduce hunger and malnutrition requires well-developed policies, plans, and programs. An assessment of the situation in a country with regard to food, hunger, and malnutrition, as well as the status of institutional mechanisms necessary to realize the right to food, provides an essential base of information from which a government can build such a coherent strategy.
  • Book 4, a Right to Food Curriculum Outline recognizes that effective government action requires both informed public officials as well as a knowledgeable and mobilized civil society. It assists both governments and civil society organizations that wish to educate themselves on the many aspects of the right to food, and the laws and institutions that are essential to the effective realization of the right.
  • Book 5, Budget Work to Advance the Right to Food: “Many a slip…,” presents a step-by-step process for analyzing a government’s budget to assess its compliance with its right to food obligations. “Many a slip…,” the product of a project coordinated by IHRIP with substantial input from the IBP and other organizations, also contains information about initiatives in three countries to produce a “right to food budget.

The Right to Food Methodological Toolbox is unique in compiling in one resource the multiple dimensions—laws, monitoring, strategic assessments, curriculums, and budgets—to advance a right. Nothing comparable exists with regard to any other human right, and for this the FAO’s Right to Food Unit is to be congratulated!

To download the Toolbox, go to:


UNIFEM Launches Gender Responsive Budgeting Portal

UNIFEM’s Gender Responsive Budgeting (GRB) website originally launched in 2001 to support the efforts of those working to ensure that planning and budgeting effectively respond to gender equality goals. The website also acts as a network hub for sharing information and resources among countries, civil society groups, and regional and international organizations interested in GRB. The new portal includes an expanded resource section with new content on aid effectiveness, financing for gender equality, and country case studies, now totaling over 800 references available in five languages. The portal also contains profiles and contact information for national and international experts on GRB, enhanced search tools, site navigation, and social networking functions and videos from GRB events and workshops.

For more information on UNIFEM’s GRB initiatives, go to: To contribute to the GRB portal, contact [email protected].


New Participatory Budgeting Google Group

The Participatory Budgeting (PB) Project and the Facebook Participatory Budgeting Group recently re-launched an international PB email discussion list. The original PB email list began in 2005 at and has now been updated to the more user-friendly format of a Google Group. The purpose of the group is to facilitate information exchange, discussion, and collaboration between practitioners, scholars, and activists working with PB. PB is a democratic process, practiced in hundreds of cities worldwide, where community members decide how to allocate part of a public budget. The Google Group has 250 members from around the world and is open to anyone interested in joining.

For more information, go to:


Revenue Watch Institute’s New Database on the Transparent Management of Natural Resources

The Revenue Watch Institute (RWI) launched an online, interactive database of research, training and policy documents, and videos on transparency and the management of natural resource wealth. The database compiles a comprehensive selection of research materials from around the world in multiple languages and represents a cross-section of expertise, analysis, and best practices.
For more information, go to:

To receive the Revenue Watch Institute’s newsletters, available in English, French and Spanish, and updates for original articles, research, events, and resources on transparency and extractive industry issues, go to:


Overseas Development Institute’s New Report: Greater Aid Transparency: Crucial for Aid Effectiveness by Sam Moon and Tim Williamson

In Greater Aid Transparency: Crucial for Aid Effectiveness Sam Moon and Tim Williamson, researchers at the U.K. Overseas Development Institute (ODI), explore the relationship between donor aid and recipient country budgets, and between aid dependence and budget transparency. Aid-recipient countries often receive inadequate information on aid (particularly in the medium term) and must make budget decisions based on partial, inaccurate, or unreliable information. Incomplete information makes it harder for legislatures and civil society to hold aid-dependent governments accountable, identify discrepancies between the amounts of aid received and spent, and track and eliminate corruption and waste. The analysis concludes with an explanation of the importance of donor aid and country-level aid management systems to develop common approaches that align aid information to recipient governments’ budgets. The analysis also identifies important research areas to make aid more effective in promoting budget transparency.

To see the report, go to:

For more information, contact Samuel Moon at: [email protected].


New Publication: The Deadly Ideas of Neoliberalism: How the IMF Has Undermined Public Health and the Fight Against AIDs by Rick Rowden

In The Deadly Ideas of Neoliberalism: How the IMF Has Undermined Public Health and the Fight Against AIDs Rick Rowden, an expert on how global foreign aid, trade, and finance systems affect economic development, analyzes the relationship between HIV/AIDS and other diseases of poverty with the neoliberal economic ideas prevailing in the global economic system for the last few decades. According to Rowden, the IMF’s policies of restrictive spending have exacerbated public health problems—particularly HIV/AIDS— in developing countries. The author explains and critiques mainstream neoliberal economic theory and its impact on development and assesses the effects these policies have on global institutions and health ministries in developing nations.


Publish What You Pay’s New Report: Publishing What We Learned: An Assessment of the Publish What You Pay Coalition by Mabel van Oranje and Henry Parham

In Publishing What We Learned: An Assessment of the Publish What You Pay Coalition, Mabel van Oranje and Henry Parham detail the evolution of Publish What You Pay (PWYP) since it was founded in 2002. The coalition was created to campaign for greater transparency and accountability in the management of revenues from the oil, gas, and mining industries, and it soon expanded to a global network of community organizations, international NGOs, and civil society coalitions in more than 70 countries.

The report’s three main sections cover the origins and structure of PWYP, assess the effectiveness of PWYP’s advocacy and policy endeavors and its operational aspects, and look ahead at the coalition’s future. The report is based on interviews with people involved with the PWYP coalition, mainly civil society representatives, and is written in a question and answer format for readers to easily identify the issues most relevant to them.

To see the full report and the executive summary, go to:


Call for Contributions for the Research Project on Citizen Participation and Civic Action to Fight Corruption by Shaazka Beyerle, International Center on Nonviolent Conflict

With the support of the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict and a grant from the United States Institute of Peace, a new study is being conducted on how civic actors and anti-corruption advocates are mobilizing fellow citizens to fight corruption with nonviolent strategies and tactics. This in-depth research and book project will document and analyze citizen participation and nonviolent civic action campaigns and movements to fight corruption, and extract general lessons and best practices. The project will examine the skills, strategies, objectives, and demands of these initiatives rather than the phenomenon of corruption itself, or the conditions under which it occurs. The researcher conducting this project is in the process of collecting examples of:

  • Ongoing or past (within the last two decades) initiatives, campaigns, or movements addressing corruption, which involved the mobilization of citizens and/or nonviolent civic action at the local or national level(Cases may focus solely on corruption, or they may be linked to poverty, budget spending, freedom of information, state service provision, governance, democracy, organized crime, violence, human rights, environmental destruction, or other issues)
  • Suggestions of individuals or organizations who might know about cases or can disseminate the study
  • Recommendations of networks, e-newsletters, websites, virtual groups, etc., through which others can be notified about the project
  • Reports, books, or articles on citizen initiatives and nonviolent civic action to fight corruption

Please note that this is not a call for proposals, new papers, or researchers. If you would like to contribute to this research with any of the above information, contact Shaazka Beyerle at [email protected].

For more information about the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict, go to: