By Collins Nweze
BudgIT Foundation and Connected Development (CODE), two prominent civic-tech non-governmental organisations spearheading the advocacy for openness, transparency and accountability in public finance in Africa, have launched the COVID-19 Transparency and Accountability Project (CTAP), an initiative that seeks to promote accountability and transparency through the tracking of COVID-19 intervention funds across seven African countries.
Both organisations will be leveraging their Tracka and Follow The Money platforms, as well as international chapters in other six focus African countries to activate a Pan-African tracking system for all COVID-19 funds received and donated to these countries.
“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.” said Oluseun Onigbinde, BudgIT’s Director and Co-founder. “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.
CODE’s Founder and Chief Executive, Hamzat Lawal, stated that “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” Lawal added.
The response to pandemics should prioritise the participation of citizens, including needs assessments and provision of palliatives, procurement and delivery of items, thus, the primary aim of this project 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 programmes 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 programs. 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.
BudgIT and CODE are committed 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 will promote collaboration and learning among local partners so they can be more effective and share lessons about accessing data, mobilizing citizens, and engaging governments.