Given reports about the deployment of Coronavirus pandemic funds and donations by various national and sub-national governments, two civic-tech non-governmental organizations, BudgIT Foundation and Connected Development (CODE), on Monday, announced the launch of advocacy for openness, transparency, and accountability in public finance in Africa.
Tagged COVID-19 Transparency and Accountability Project (CTAP), the initiative seeks to track COVID-19 intervention funds across seven African countries, leveraging their Tracka and “Follow The Money” platforms.
Collaborating with their international chapters in other six focus African countries, they seek to activate a Pan-African tracking system for all COVID-19 funds donated and received so far.
The joint statement by Iyanu Fatoba, Communications Associate, BudgIT, and Kevwe Oghide, Communications Director, CODE, quoted Oluseun Onigbinde, BudgIT’s Director and Co-founder, as saying “retrospectively, our experience with tracking COVID-19 has shown a deeply rooted systemic profiteering culture, especially in an environment that lacks accountability and civic engagement.
“We also observed that there is an increasing mistrust from citizens on the delivery of palliative care in Nigeria, Kenya and Liberia due to representatives who abuse the process and the absence of comprehensive citizen data” he added.
For CODE’s Founder and Chief Executive, Hamzat Lawal, “as nations of the world tackle the plague of coronavirus, with funding for African countries amassing in millions of dollars, it has become expedient to block financial leakages and ensure funds do not end up in personal pockets.
“With CTAP, BudgIT and CODE will advocate for accountability, transparency, and open governance while strengthening civic awareness and ensuring that targeted governments use COVID-19 intervention funds effectively. The project will address the threat of lack of accountability and the effects of COVID-19 on socio-economic development,” he added.
The statement stressed that the response to pandemics should prioritize the participation of citizens, including needs assessments and provision of palliatives, procurement and delivery of items.
The primary aim of this project, it continued, will be to drive citizens’ engagement as well as innovative capabilities of tech tools to develop an interactive portal on data relevant to COVID-19, and use these data to enable collaboration between citizen fact-checking programs and public institutions.
“Beyond the engagement sessions with focus non-profits and frontline leaders, the project will visualize and disseminate the contribution of stakeholders to the COVID-19 relief fund and other related programmes.
“More importantly, requests of citizens in vulnerable areas will be itemized while both organizations’ sms-to-web platform will be leveraged to deliver relevant data to the government and other stakeholders based on citizens’ requests. The project will also curate stories of COVID-19 case management, palliative measures and its impact on the citizens, the statement stressed further.
BudgIT and CODE expressed their commitment to working with relevant partners to understand the current transparency and accountability frameworks in focus countries; and devise strategies that combine citizen tracking and advocacy for reforms.
Both organizations promised to promote collaboration and learning among local partners, so ensure more effective and shared lessons about accessing data, mobilizing citizens, and engaging governments.
“Our plan is to strengthen existing tools and build new ones where necessary. These tools must match citizens’ needs in the current emergency response and use this platform as a means to drive accountability on the importance of optimising public resources in an emergency situation.
The project will be supported by the Global Integrity, which will design a learning framework that allows for rapid scale while initial funding is provided by Conrad N. Hilton Foundation and Skoll Foundation.