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21st November, 2016

Citizen-Led Accountability Workshop in Mozambique

Coordinator's Corner
Health Budget Advocacy

Aminu Magashi Garba shares his experiences at the Citizen-Led Accountability Workshop in Maputo, Mozambique. He facilitated two sessions;one on understanding budget tracking and one on the Global Financing Facility - opportunities for engagement.

At the end of October I attended the Citizen-Led Accountability Workshop in Maputo, Mozambique, organised by World Vision, Save the Children, White Ribbon Alliance and the International Planned Parenthood Federation, who have been working together on the board of PMNCH to advance citizen engagement and citizen-led accountability for Reproductive Maternal Neonatal Child and Adolescent Health (RMNCAH).

The workshop was divided in two parts: the first three days focused on developing a new joint strategy to promote citizen-led accountability for RMNCAH at the global level; whereas, the final two days were dedicated to sharing lessons between participants and capacity building. The main participants were civil society organisations from Kenya, Nigeria, Malawi, Uganda, Mozambique, Tanzania and Indonesia.

I facilitated two sessions: one on “Understanding Budget Tracking”, and one on the “Global Financing Facility (GFF) – Opportunities for engagement”. In the session on budget tracking, I shared countries’ experiences in using scorecards for budget advocacy activities, and I provided an overview of budget advocacy and tracking tools such as:

  • Public Expenditure Tracking Survey (PETS) which track the flow of resources to the point of service delivery. The information gathered from PETS can highlight strength or weaknesses in accountability and transparency in a system.
  • Citizens Report Card (CRC) - a tool to collect citizen feedback on public services, and targets only the actual users of a specific service (not the general public). It assesses the performance of a particular service or project and compares the performance across locations.
  • Scorecards. They can be a participatory approach for assessing government services by grading them according to a range of set criteria (see for example the AHBN one on budget transparency).

At the end of the presentation I shared country experiences of budget tracking by showcasing the work of the Community Health and Research Initiative (CHR) in Nigeria. They tracked funding flows for immunization both at federal and state level, and scored budget transparency for immunization and the midwives service scheme. The scorecards included indicators related to allocation, spending, public participation, and budget performance. It also linked finances to coverage of essential services. The findings helped civil societies in Nigeria to generate advocacy messages and were then used to engage government at national and sub-national level to improve the immunization and midwives service scheme services.

In the session on Global Financing Facility engagement, I talked about the role of civil society in the GFF process. The GFF is a financing mechanism that aims to align funding to national priorities, improve efficiencies, and mobilize resources for women, children and adolescents’ health. I also described the role of various entities within the GFF CS Coordination Group in ensuring CS improved participation. For example PMNCH provides technical support; GHC supports bi-monthly webinars; and AHBN develops and shares bi-monthly newsletters.

I highlighted how GFF should engage civil society to promote inclusiveness and participation as well as promote transparency, independence and accountability. To date there have been some ongoing challenges to this engagement, including:

  • Lack of consistent and timely communication necessary for meaningful engagement.
  • Timelines for CSOs to attend consultation meetings are often rushed with little advance notice.
  • Lack of adequate resources to support CSO engagement in consultations.
  • Representation of civil society is not systematic or transparent, leading to lack of balance.
  • No widespread recognition of the value that CSOs bring to the GFF

I rounded up the presentation by advising participants to follow up with their country’s Ministry of Health to find out what is going on and how they can effectively participate. I also informed the participants that the following week, the GFF CS Coordination Group would be meeting in Dar es Salam, Tanzania and review the 1st draft of the GFF CS Engagement Strategy. As the recently elected civil society representative to the GFF Investors Group, this meeting gave me a unique opportunity to interact with CSOs in order to develop a better understanding of the information they have on GFF and how best to support and represent them moving forwards.

The GFF should engage civil society to promote inclusiveness and participation as well as promote transparency, independence and accountability

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