This article originally appeared in a slightly different form on our aidinfo site here.
This July, Development Initiatives will be co-facilitating an aid and budgets workshop for civil society organisations in developing countries, working in partnership with Integrity Action and the International Budget Partnership. The five-day training workshop, which will take place in Limuru, Kenya, aims to develop and strengthen the skills base, capacities, strategic visions and collective action of 26 participants, to support their work monitoring aid and budget data and advocating change.
The training participants come from civil society organisations from East and West Africa, and South and Central Asia. Participants work across many sectors including education, health, water and sanitation, livelihoods and justice, and they come with different skills, experiences and backgrounds. Some are engaged in advocacy and lobbying, some work in research and analysis. However, they all have a shared objective; they want to learn how to access, use, and interpret aid and budget data relevant to their sector, and use this information to inform and support their daily work.
Bringing data feedback from consumers to publishers
This work is part of our wider response across DI programmes to the growing demand for better and more useful aid and budget data from civil society organisations in developing countries. We hope to use this process to gather useful and meaningful feedback from users of data about their needs and priorities, by channelling our learning and ideas from participants directly to data publishers in coming months. Participants have told us, for example, that they face difficulties in accessing or interpreting the data they want to use such as budget data from their own government in its raw form. They also find domestic budget data difficult to align with data on aid finance, which is presented in complex forms and not easy to use. Some understand how to find and use the data, but want to learn how to use the information to devise effective advocacy and messaging – such as visualisations and graphs, to support others to engage with the data. The training workshop aims to develop these skills and competencies and to develop a peer support network. This will build on the training that our aidinfo programme, with International Budget Partnership, Integrity Action and Publish What You Fund have done in Nepal, with adapted content ‒ such as data analysis case studies ‒ specifically for the East Africa context.
Samirullah from Integrity Watch Afghanistan, one of the training participants, said:
“The major problem that I face in advocacy is that usually it is very difficult to obtain the budget data, especially the audit report in timely fashion. I use the information to provide comments, feedback, concerns and recommendations on aid effectiveness, government revenue, and budget execution and to support open budget survey. This training will support my work by learning new lessons from the facilitators and sharing experiences with other participants. I would like to get new methodologies of advocacy for budget transparency and aid effectiveness. Hopefully, once I learn new lessons from this workshop, it will develop my capacity which will also support my organisation.”
Victoria Room, Co-Facilitator, said:
“We learned a lot from participants in Nepal and I’m looking forward to working with a larger and more diverse group in Kenya to understand more about the realities of engaging with aid and budget data in aid-receiving countries and to working with participants to collectively improve the approach and materials we’ve developed. I hope that we’ll all go back to our organisations enthused and equipped with new skills, understandings and partnerships to support our work on transparency, accountability and change.”