In The Gambia, an IRI-supported partner made government budget information available publicly for the first time and increased citizen participation in budget discussions.

Since The Gambia’s transition from a 22-year dictatorship to a democracy in 2017, IRI has supported local partner Gambia Participates (GP) to drive fiscal transparency, government accountability, constitutional reform, and electoral integrity efforts. Recognizing that opening the government’s financial activity to the public would help Gambians experience the transparency and accountability that democracy can offer, IRI and GP jointly pursued work that would allow Gambians to see and understand, for the first time, how and where the government was spending public resources through GP’s Know Your Budget Initiative. As a result of this ongoing partnership, GP worked with the Gambian Ministry of Finance to produce an easily accessible version of the national budget, known as the citizen’s budget, which is available online. This citizen’s budget represents the first time that The Gambia has made budget information publicly available to its citizens, significantly contributing to fiscal transparency and government accountability.

Building on this success, the National Audit Office (NAO) adapted a similar strategy and independently collaborated with GP to simplify the NAO’s 2016, 2017, and 2018 audit reports for the first time, publicly discussing findings on government expenditures. Now, with the model and process established, the NAO continues to provide simplified audit reports and has expanded the practice to provide simplified reports for special audits. In addition, since 2017, IRI and GP have facilitated approximately five training sessions and seminars for new and re-elected parliamentarians on budget oversight methods. This technical support has empowered more than 30 Gambian legislators and their staff to better understand and fulfill their oversight of the executive branch of government. To complement this engagement, IRI and GP also engaged citizens in more than 200 rural communities in all seven of the country’s administrative regions to increase citizen awareness of, and participation in, budget discussions and accountability practices. Cumulatively, these efforts helped The Gambia improve its transparency score from 4 to 35 (out of 100) in the Open Budget Survey, the gold standard for tracking and measuring fiscal transparency globally.

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