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Peer-to-Peer Learning on Participatory Budgeting in South America and Sub-Saharan Africa: The First Video Conference Dissemination Event

March 19, 2009

 rn• Introduction
• The First Dissemination Event
• Main lessons and key findings
• Way Forward
• Presentations and Papers
• Conference Video
• Partners
• Contact

Introduction

Participatory Budgeting (PB) is evolving rapidly throughout the world in multiple forms and shapes. While many of these initiatives have been successful as an effective policy instrument for poverty reduction and good governance, there has also been a growing recognition of the need to create spaces where practitioners can share their innovations and lessons learned to overcome common challenges more effectively. This is especially true for Latin America, where PB originally started and has made significant progress, as well as for Subsaharan Africa, which – though newer to the adoption of PB – is the next place where most PB initiatives have been introduced, although under very different political, economic and social conditions.
 
Responding to this, the World Bank Institute (WBI), the Municipal Development Partnership for Eastern and Southern Africa (MDP-ESA), and the Centro Internacional de Gestión Urbana (CIGU) in March 2008 launched the Africa-Latin America Mutual Learning Initiative on PB at the African Regional Seminar for PB held in Durban, South Africa (please find a link to the African Regional Seminar in Durban here). The initiative builds upon key lessons and principles from successful South-South programs such as decentralized cooperation, as well as incorporating demand-driven and development market place approaches.

During the course of the Durban Seminar, participants were invited to form clusters based on common peer learning objectives.  These clusters were asked to submit a preliminary proposal on a specific PB related topic that they would like to explore further through peer-to-peer mutual learning activities. Eight proposals, all written by mixed teams with members from different Latin American and Subsaharan African countries, were then selected to be implemented.

The First Dissemination Event

The objective of the first Dissemination Event of the Mutual Learning Initiative was to share the main lessons and key findings from three of these peer learning projects that were completed in December 2008. These three projects include:

• Results-Based Participatory Budgeting: A Case Study of Puno Municipality in Peru
• Expansion of Participatory Budgeting in Brazil: Taking Stock of Patterns in Brazil (2005-2008) & Understanding the Sub-Sahara Africa Context, and
• Participatory Budgeting & Revenue Generation: A Three Country Study (Malawi, Zambia & Tanzania)

The event connected 40 policy makers and practitioners at 12 sites in Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America via video and audio conference at WB offices and GDLN (Global Development Learning Network) sites. The key findings from the three completed projects were jointly presented by their African and Latin American team members, and were followed by a lively discussion.

Main lessons and key findings

There were several important points raised in the discussion that clearly reflect the regional differences as well as the common obstacles faced in adopting and implementing the various PB initiatives. Some major points brought up were:
• A clear difference can be observed between the bottom-up approach that was used to implement PB in Brazil, as opposed to the top-down approach that is applied in many African countries and Peru. While a legal framework implemented by the national or local government can help to empower the population, this might also lead to a lack of political will at the level of civil society and constitute a rigid blueprint instead of a general framework to be followed
• In Brazil, a clear correlation can be observed between those cities that have a high Human Development Index (HDI) and those that have implemented PB. Apart from the political will of the local government and the presence of an engaged civil society, the access to high revenues and the availability of skilled technical staff seem to be crucial for the implementation of PB. This can be difficult to achieve in Africa, where the researchers found many constraints to revenue generation and a lack of skilled technical staff.
• In almost all countries observed, participation is usually very high at the level where priorities for spending are identified; it is however considerably lower at the monitoring stage. PB needs to focus more on results and final outputs, as well as put in place mechanisms for effective participatory monitoring.
• In many African countries, local tax collection faces many obstacles, which include but are not limited to corruption, high poverty levels and HIV/AIDS. Furthermore, one study shows that 76% of the citizens have never seen a local government budget. Therefore, further efforts must be taken to enhance revenue generation and facilitate budget literacy.

Way Forward

All of the participants and project teams were strongly in favor of sustaining the exchange among the peers through the funding of further projects and by increasing the dissemination of the outcomes from the projects implemented. This event was an important milestone in sharing the lessons learned in the three projects that have completed their work so far, as well as motivating the teams that are currently implementing their projects, and providing some outlooks on future steps to be taken. These could possibly involve an outreach to Asia, where first initiatives in PB have been developed in countries such as Thailand, India, Bangladesh and the Philippines, as well as some participatory planning processes in China.

Presentations

Brazil Stocktaking

Results-Based Budgeting

Revenue Generation

Conference Video

A video of the event can be accessed here.

Partners

·          The Municipal Development Partnership for Eastern and Southern Africa (MDP-ESA) 

·          Center Internacional Centro Internacional de Gestion Urbana - CIGU

Contact

Mr. Andre Herzog
Social Development Department, World Bank
aherzog@worldbank.org
Tel: +001-1-202-458-2683
Fax: +001-1-202-522-1669

--OR--

Mr. George Matovu
MDPESA Executive Director
gmatovu@mdpafrica.org.zw
Tel: +263-4-774385/6
Fax: 263-4-774387

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