Simply increasing budget allocations to essential services such as health, agriculture and education is not enough to ensure that quality services are indeed delivered. This is because government may spend on the wrong goods or the wrong people. Even when government spends on the right goods or the right people, the money may fail to reach the front line service provider and citizens may not benefit from these services. This is a common experience in Uganda’s planning and budgeting processes.
To change this situation, CSBAG has since 2013 worked with 300 grassroots communities in Kibaale, Agago, Kibuku, Sheema and Abim districts and instilled in them the skills and knowledge on how to engage governments for pro-poor budgets and effective service delivery. These grassroots communities are known as Participatory Budget Clubs (PBC) have since then gained and understanding of their budget priorities which enables them provide credible input during the bduget process. They have since championed budget advocacy work at grassroots level.
As a result of these PBCs’ vigilance and activism in demanding that government budgets should reflect their needs and entitlements, we have witnessed changes in the districts’ budgets. For instance, in the year 2014, UGX 572,100,000 was allocated by the local governments where CSBAG is operating to address community driven service delivery concerns. Of this, UGX 248,000,000 was reallocated in the health sector, UGX 202,600,000 was allocated in the Education sector and UGX 121, 400,000 was allocated in the Roads sector. This is as a result of the PBCs’ influence and activism in the planning and budgeting processes.
This money has indeed been utilized to fund the community needs, a case in point is in Kibuku district, after receiving persistent demands from the communities, the district allocated UGX 55 million in FY 2014/15 for completion and equipping of the Buseta HC III ward which serves nearly 21,020 people in Buseta Sub County. The health centre was faced with several challenges including lack of a maternity ward, and limited accommodation facilities due to stalled construction of the General ward which had previously been allocated UGX 45m in FY 2012/13 as its first phase of construction. With the Ushs 55 million allocated, we are
glad to report that the construction of the Ward was completed.
Another example is in Abim district where the Ushs 16 million was allocated for construction of a four-stance pit latrine at Akangagwel Primary School. We are glad to report that this construction was completed in 2014. In Abim a number of commitment,s following pressure from the communities, have been fulfilled by the duty bearers for instance in Morulem sub-county, a two classroom block in Rachkoko primary school which had not been completed since 2007; was completed in 2014 at a cost of Ushs 24 million. In the same sub-county, construction of four-stance pit latrine which had been promised to Akwangagwel primary school by the sub-county was completed at a cost of Ushs 16million in 2014. This has supported children at the school enjoy better sanitation as school especially the girls.
All these examples, a true testimony of people power in aspects of influencing duet allocations as well as ensuring that citizens access their desired services The case study confirms that it is difficult, but also possible, to make government budgets more responsive to the needs of citizens if and When the citizens are organized, mobilized and trained to effectively participate in planning and budget processes.