How can governments effectively budget disability-relevant funding?
DI's Mokeira Nyagaka explores challenges faced by those formulating, implementing and reporting on disability-inclusive budget allocations in Kenya.
Recent DI analysis of disability budget implementation in five Kenyan counties has shown that, in many cases, funding allocated to support persons with disabilities is not absorbed, and therefore persons with disabilities are not receiving crucial support to their lives and livelihoods. Under our work with the Inclusive Futures consortium, we recently consulted representatives of the public, government officials and officials from county executives on the context and challenges to budget implementation of disability-inclusive allocations.
We found that challenges in the implementation of disability-inclusive budgets begin at the budget formulation stage. It is critical therefore for decision-makers to understand the most effective way to design budgets; whether they should allocate standalone, dedicated disability budgets or utilise integrated disability budgets which, through programmes, subprogrammes or individual line items, serve broader agendas targeting other vulnerable or marginalised demographics. If county executives and others involved in budgeting engaged in this analysis around the formulation, implementation and reporting of disability-relevant budgets, it would help them to honour their commitments to persons with disabilities in their communities.
The main argument in favour of standalone disability-inclusive budgeting is that it aids monitoring and evaluation (M&E) and allows organisations of persons with disabilities to track resource allocations more easily. Representatives of County Assemblies and citizens alike advocate for standalone budgets, as they facilitate better monitoring of progress in disability inclusion during budget allocation and implementation and therefore can be used to more accurately evaluate the impact of these allocations on the lives and livelihoods of persons with disabilities. Interviewees noted the lack of disaggregated data on county budget implementation reports where integrated budgets have been used. Particularly for disability champions, this presents a challenge to their capacity to track budgets and their execution.
In Vihiga County we learnt the Member of the County Assembly (MCAs) representing persons with disabilities could not access information on how the budget line ‘gender and disability mainstreaming’ has been utilised, despite repeated efforts during her tenure.
“My suspicion is that the little monies approved under the gender and disability mainstreaming budget lines are reallocated to other ‘pressing’ priorities for each department during the implementation stage”
A gender officer from Busia County supported standalone budget programmes/subprogrammes and has voted in favour of easier systems to demarcate how much is being spent towards disability inclusion. They hope that this in turn will aid oversight by disability champions in the county assembly and other citizens.
However, there are a number of arguments in favour of integrated disability-relevant budgets. Government officials from county executives support integrated disability budgeting due to data challenges, the desire to follow a holistic approach to interlinked social and economic issues, and limited mainstreaming capacity.
Lack of timely and reliable data is one reason for employing an integrated budgeting approach. In Busia and Bungoma counties, officials responsible for gender mainstreaming note that interventions at the county level are informed by the number of formally registered persons with disabilities, which are significantly lower than numbers reported in the census. This poses critical disadvantage to persons with disabilities when such low numbers are used to apportion budgets across different marginalised groups, particularly if one is to have standalone disability budgets. This is crucial, especially at the county level where persons with disabilities are often unable (due to many barriers) to influence actual budget implementation.
Another key advantage of integrated disability budgeting is its recognition of the intersectionality of inequality. Mainstreaming and empowerment initiatives often target common groups and use similar approaches of implementation, which may render standalone budgets ineffective. For example in Baringo, the education sector combines disability and gender mainstreaming and prevention of drug and substance abuse through sensitisation of instructors in vocational training centres.
For those in the executive arm of governments, opting for an integrated disability budget is ultimately more practical. For instance, the Chief Officer of the Department of Gender, Youth and Sports Culture in Bungoma disclosed that her department is constantly advocating for gender and disability mainstreaming at department level. When county gender departments lack the expertise to mainstream disability or gender, integrating budgets is critical to ensuring that meaningful contributions to disability-inclusive programmes can be made by departments with the most relevant expertise.
Our analysis demonstrates that, although both approaches have merits and constraints, there should be certain measures taken in the formulation of all disability-relevant budgets to ensure that the funding is effective. For standalone budgets, there should deliberate effort to address intersectional characteristics. For integrated budgets, decision-makers should:
- Ring-fence a proportion of the budget for specific marginalised groups, such as through empowerment funds.
- Make provision for the proportion of population that have multiple characteristics prone to causing marginalisation, such as women or elderly people with disabilities.
- Assign standalone performance indicators for each marginalised group with specific outputs for each targeted group (e.g., women, PWDs, youth and those that have multiple characteristics).
These minimum standards, combined with improved reporting on implementation and performance, would minimise challenges faced in formulating and implementing disability-relevant budgets. Neither method of allocation – standalone or integrated – is universally more effective, so must be chosen on a case-by-case basis according to the expertise and preferences of those responsible for implementation. It might also be possible to explore a third option: a hybrid approach, which would build on the benefits of existing methods to ensure that commitments to persons with disabilities are reliably made and honoured.
Photo caption: Portrait of Monica Muteti, Pastry Chef Trainee at the Radisson Blu Arboretum Hotel, in Nairobi. Monica has a hearing impairment and is part of the Inclusive Futures consortium, which is supported by Sightsavers and 15 other partners in the disability and development sector. The aim of the program is to create innovative solutions and remove key barriers that can prevent persons living with disability from accessing education, health care and work.
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