How are civil society organizations in Africa tracking service delivery?

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The disparity of the government response to COVID-19 and the lack of disaggregated data on expenditures directed towards recovery has made it hard to track the effectiveness of service delivery. 

To close this gap, the CTAP project looks at the allocation of emergency resources by seven African governments (Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone) and supports civic actors to bring to light evidence of failures and misdeeds in service delivery. Ultimately, the project hopes to increase citizen engagement, improve their ability to demand accountability, and work with governments to improve how they allocate and use public resources. For more insights on the project, check out the rest of this learning series!

“It is a right of everyone, of every citizen, every Ghaninan, to know what resources have come in or remain unspent in the fight against COVID-19. It is a right to know and it is the right to track and be aware of what the government is doing.”

Gabriel Okeowo, BudgIt CEO

What are the partners doing?

CTAP partners have acted in technically and politically savvy ways to track service delivery and identify red flags by using a bottom-up approach to gather citizen testimonials, prompt government response and make more transparent the service delivery process. This requires collaborating directly with local CSOs to do service delivery tracking via interviews and research. 

Watch Abraham Varney, Program Lead with BudgIT Liberia

It also requires tracking specific response programs and relief packages through social audits where CTAP partners have joined forces with local stakeholders and CSOs to verify implementation of COVID-19 deliverables captured in government response plans.

Watch Sharon Kalima from Positivo talk about how audits can help service delivery tracking

E-procurement websites have helped our partners in Malawi, Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone and Kenya to conduct service delivery tracking via e-procurement monitoring activities. Iyanuoluwa Bolarinwa, Senior Programs Officer for BudgIT Nigeria shared that “we have been using these platforms to get information on projects tied to COVID-19…like understanding exactly how the money was disposed, the procurement processes, and whether the value of money was truly achieved”

Program Lead from BudgIT Ghana Ray Nkum says, “they are tracking information disclosed on platforms but the information is incomplete, for example: there are more hospitals on the web than the ones built“.

Partners are contacting local authorities to obtain decentralized and disaggregated data on COVID-19 response plans for health centres in specific localities and then interviewing local community members and the local authorities to verify the execution of deliverables. In some circumstances, partners themselves have visited the physical locations of these health centres to ensure resource allocation is consistent with what has been declared. They have successfully leveraged these tools to identify red flags in procurement and allocation processes, as well as delivery and distribution.

Here, BudgIT describes an inadequate government response to the challenges faced by vulnerable communities and low income households to understand broader policies on health and social welfare, in particular as they relate to palliative care programs, food and cash transfers, disaster management and WASH. For more context, see CTAP’s response to Nigerian Minister Clem Agba speak on the difficulties in using digital platforms to disclose COVID-19 resource allocation. 

Our partners in Nigeria, Liberia, Ghana and Kenya track data strategically to corroborate whether the funds allocated to tackle COVID-19 are reaching the intended beneficiaries BudgIT is tracking policies on WASH and local pharmaceutical supplies, as well as analyzing procurement processes and their economic impact. 

Watch BudgIT Sierra Leone ask beneficiaries at Bo town about government aid, the quality of the service received and their needs in light of the COVID-19 health crisis.

BudgIT Ghana systematically monitored public funds and visited various communities to follow up firsthand on policy promises. CTAP Nigeria in Kano state found that teachers received little support during the lockdown period, and that any funds that did come in were insufficient. Partners have also produced research, learning materials and infographics to foster the transparency and accountability framework in Africa.

 

CTAP countries allocating less than 15% of national budgets as targeted by African Union  

“Fiscal Impact, Vaccines Financing & Civic Norms” 

 

What are the existing challenges?

It has been difficult to track the delivery of public services because of the lack of accessible data tracking COVID-19 relief. The scarcity of information on the quality of service delivery of primary healthcare centres and their ability to store and deliver vaccines, manage ambulance services and contribute to a strong healthcare infrastructure makes it harder to demand accountability.

In Cameroon, Kenya and Liberia, partners have found that institutions are reluctant to share data that will allow civil society organization to track service delivery. This lack of disaggregated service delivery data makes it harder to record funds that are responsibly disbursed.

Partners have found it challenging to secure interviews with public officials as they have shared apprehension at losing their jobs and have experienced government intimidation, among other repercussions. 

In Nigeria, Ghana, Malawi and Kenya, mechanisms like E-procurement systems put in place to increase transparency have been poorly implemented and/or at times completely non-functioning.

There is a shortage of skills and pathways available to track funds and corroborate the quality of public service delivery. It is important to bridge the gap between government response and citizens’ expectations. Hear what health workers and citizens have to say about service delivery. 

How are we learning and adapting from this?

CTAP is stimulating conversations to further accountability and transparency processes. Emerging findings are telling us that there is a gap between what is planned by governing bodies in municipalities, districts, cities and towns –  and the aid that local communities are receiving themselves.

Throughout the investigatory process, CTAP partners have identified key opportunities to track government procurement process, and ask the right questions to demand accountability.  Abraham Varney from BudgIT Liberia has expressed the importance of multi-stakeholder partnerships with government authorities in order to track service delivery. 

Finally, our partners have demonstrated an outstanding capability to find and tell the right stories, and share insights with other accountability actors in the space in order to work in collaborative ways to address fundamental issues affecting human health and livelihood in the midst of a pandemic.

 

*Cover infographic depicts Primary Health Care and COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution in Nigeria  from CODE.

Carlos Alberto Díaz

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