Budget Support and Civil Society

Question

What experience is there of civil society engagement with poverty reduction budget support? What mechanisms and agreements are used? What guidance exists on best practice if any? And what has been documented on results and experiences including case studies?

Summary

The following points are repeatedly made in the literature with regard to civil society engagement in the context of budget support:

  • The key role for civil society in PRBS is in holding government to account, along with parliament.
  • Donors providing budget support to governments have tended to simultaneously provide support to civil society to strengthen their capacities for holding government to account.
  • Parliament is often weak in developing countries and is unable to fulfil its oversight function. Civil society therefore has to step into this gap, although CSOs too are often lacking in capacity.
  • Donors have failed to appreciate the diversity of CSOs and have tended to treat civil society as homogenous.
  • Donors can, and often do, undermine domestic accountability by continuing to occupy the space that civil society should occupy in relation to holding government to account.

Some of the ways in which donors can support civil society include:

  • Providing core funding to CSOs
  • Making donor information, policies and processes readily available to CSOs
  • Pushing country governments to make their information freely available to CSOs on a timely basis
  • Providing capacity development to CSOs, particularly in the areas of policy dialogue and budget analysis
  • Supporting a broadening of spaces for citizen voice and mechanisms for citizen engagement in budget and policy processes.

Enquirer: