Engage communities in budget, CSOs urge African govts

CIVIL society organisations (CSOs) across Africa have said community participation is key in budget advocacy processes as a reminder to governments on the continent as they make budgetary plans for the coming year.

During the just-ended African Regional Advocacy Summit for NGOs and Media in Nigeria, CSOs said the community remained an important stakeholder in influencing budgetary outcomes.

Zimbabwean team leader Nonjabulo Mahlangu said communities provided valuable local knowledge and first-hand experiences that can contribute to the budget process.

“Communities can give a human face to the issues that they face, and share their experiences as far as access to health is concerned. They can share stories on the availability, affordability, appropriability and accessibility of the services,” Mahlangu said.

“This will assist in identifying gaps that need to be closed. There are various platforms where communities can participate, both at community and national levels. CSOs can raise awareness on existing spaces where communities can participate or create platforms for participation, bringing leaders to the communities.”

Project officer for the Africa Health Budget Network Health Security project, Health Alert Sierra Leone, David Joseph Allieu said community engagement in the budget process started from the community itself.

“We have the responsibility to add our voice to the budget process. It helps identify and prioritise needs as aligned to specific areas. Communities can provide feedback on services, programmes and infrastructure projects that can inform the allocation of resources in a way that reflects real needs,” Allieu said.

CSO stakeholders and media from eight countries which met at the summit also discussed the way forward in improving budgetary allocations to the health sector.