Care about Ghana’s public finance and governance, but don’t have time to pore over pages and pages of reports and technical jargon? BudgIT Ghana is here to provide you with simple, easily digestible bits of budget and public information, accessible in just a few clicks.
Ghana has come a long way in making government policies, budgets, and other relevant public information accessible to citizens. However, we still have far to go. Enter, BudgIT – a tech-enabled civic advocacy organisation started in 2011 and the go-to source for public finance data in Nigeria. Launched in September 2019, BudgIT Ghana hopes to ramp up budget transparency efforts in the country. How? By using creative technology to simplify information on four key areas – budget access, project tracking, extractive transparency and institutional support.
BudgIT Ghana has already hit the ground running. Their Ghana 2019 Budget Analysis is the first in a series of eye-catchy infographics and publications to be rolled out on budgets, the economy, and governance in Ghana. By using multimedia like infographics and videos, BudgIT helps level the education playing field to enable more people access and understand the budget. Their creative visuals, policy briefs and digital stories also help spark online and offline conversations on key development issues. For BudgIT Ghana, this is a path to empowering Ghanaians to be active citizens in nation-building.
Take BudgIT’s TRACKA project monitoring tool for instance. A hit in Nigeria’s communities, TRACKA allows citizens to report, track and monitor public projects through SMS, mobile and web updates. In 2018, over 13,000 public projects in over 7,000 communities were mapped with TRACKA. In the Kaffe rural community in Sokoto State for example, TRACKA reported on patients receiving healthcare under trees. Aside publishing photos online, TRACKA sensitised the community on the 34 million Naira provision in the 2017 federal budget for the renovation of the local hospital, garnering calls for accountability. Through TRACKA, the renovation of the hospital was fast tracked and completed by 2019, allowing residents to use the hospital.
“A budget document is said to be credible and effective when it is made available in a version that is easily digestible, which encourages public engagement irrespective of citizens’ literacy level. We want to help Ghana achieve this.”BudgIT Principal Lead Gabriel Okeowo on why accessible budgets are important
BudgIT also has a good pulse on the concerns of the average citizen through its community outreach efforts. As part of TRACKA, over 6000 town hall community meetings were held in 2018 to raise awareness on budget issues and enable Nigerians share their perspectives on the government’s performance in delivering public services. Using BudgIT data, civil society organisations (CSOs) can also show evidence and demonstrate the impact of their work at the local level. Some organisations like Amplify and Gavel have taken this a step further by securing funding to scale up their work with vulnerable groups and communities in Nigeria. All this, not counting the millions who have downloaded BudgIT’s infographics and reports, and participated in discussions online.
About 80% of Ghanaians surveyed in 2014 by Afrobaromater think public sector representatives are corrupt. Transparent and accessible budgets help address corruption and ensure accountability within the public sector. In Ghana, BudgIT hopes to build on and replicate its success in Nigeria as a trusted partner for budget access and public finance information. Through partnerships with institutions like Open Alliance, BudgIT contributes to evidence-based policymaking; training, research and interactions between civil society, state and non-state actors on corruption and relevant issues. In Nigeria, BudgIT has supported about 175 CSOs to develop policy reform strategies and push advocacy on programs like the Extractives Industries Transparency Initiative. They have received over 8,000 unique data requests from private, corporate and development entities, and individuals. In 2018 alone, BudgIT published over 200 infographics and reached over 7 million Nigerians through their various platforms. BudgIT Ghana certainly has its work cut out for it and is an organisation to keep an eye on, especially in the lead up to Ghana’s 2020 Presidential Elections.
Want simple yet insightful information on budget access, project tracking, extractive transparency and institutional support issues in Ghana? Just have questions or opinions to share? Follow BudgIT Ghana and join the conversation online.
Jemila Abdulai is the creative director, editor and founder of the award-winning website Circumspecte.com. A media and international development professional and economist by training, she combines her business, communications and project management expertise with her strong passion for Africa. Besides writing and reading, she enjoys travel, global cuisine, movies, and good design.