How do you improve information for poverty elimination?
There is a growing realisation that increased transparency (and particularly resource transparency) is not necessarily leading to increased use of information, accountability and better use of resources. Key users of information in Africa, such as Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), policy makers and citizens, still face challenges in accessing, analysing and using information on resources for poverty elimination (predominantly aid and budget resources).
A united approach
We, at Development Initiatives (DI), believe that increased access and use of information can lead to better resource allocation. We plan to document information challenges at country level as well as build the capacity of core users to potentially make information on resources more useful.
As part of this effort, on May 15 and 16 2012, we held a two-day workshop on programme design at the Silver Springs Hotel, Nairobi. The workshop brought together those working in the education and reproductive health sectors in Kenya and Uganda, with a total of 42 participants. Our main aim was to initiate an 18-month capacity development programme, facilitated by our East Africa hub and aidinfo programme. Key learnings from these two days centred around issues on access, analysis and use of information.
The objectives were:
- To share their organisations’ experiences of accessing, analysing and using information about resources for poverty reduction (particularly budget and aid information).
- To understand the challenges and opportunities for participating organisations in using available information to engage in discussions about effective use of resources.
- To develop a vision and preliminary strategy for the programme. This will support organisations in using information and will also document programme learning and impact.
The purpose of the capacity development programme is to strengthen the analysis and use of information about resources for poverty elimination amongst the participants. In advance of the initial workshop, we held a series of consultative meetings with participants. These helped develop the workshop structure and allowed us to understand their objectives and need for support.
What we learnt
Participants identified a number of challenges in term of access, analysis and use of information. This included, amongst other things, the lack of timely and comprehensive information available. Participants also raised issues around CSO’s limited resources (both time and money), which hinder their capacity to access and analyse useful information. This means that CSOs are unable to use the information they need to engage with decision makers on better resource allocation and prioritisation.
Some potential solutions for these challenges include:
- Advocating for open data platforms from national governments and donors.
- Strengthening existing platforms and conducting training programmes and developing skills.
- Commissioning and funding joint research initiatives and encouraging organisations to share their findings and data, adopting a common approach.
- Increased focus on policy analysis and a strengthened civil society voice through networks, engagement and coalitions.
The workshop provided a valuable opportunity to develop the programme design and ensure that it meets the needs of participants. A post-workshop evaluation found that participants were committed to working together in the future and to developing their ideas further.
Based on our learnings from the workshop, the core objectives of the programme are:
- To increase use of information about resources for poverty reduction by civil society and other key stakeholders.
- To document the impact of increased use of information about resources for poverty reduction by civil society and other stakeholders.
- To document the programme approach to building the capacity of civil society and other stakeholders and to share key learnings with others.
Our new Capacity Development Manager will lead on the development and implementation of this programme. The next step is to design the specific details of the programme and work closely with the participating organisations.