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Integrated Governance Approach Yields Improved Services in Senegal

Galvanizing communities and civil society across Senegal for effective local governance

Senegal’s positive trajectory toward more democratic governance has continued over the last several years. These positive strides have put focus on increasing how the government and citizens can work in partnership to plan and implement development priorities.

An essential part of this process includes formalizing ways for citizens to voice their needs and concerns while establishing mechanisms for improved resource mobilization, allocation, and oversight.

To support these reforms, RTI implemented the U.S. Agency for International Development-funded Governance for Local Development (USAID GoLD) activity. In collaboration with local and international partners, USAID GoLD strengthened the ability of Senegal’s local governments to respond to citizen requests, improved the collection and management of local resources, and fostered community participation in the delivery of public services, particularly in the health, education, and water and sanitation (WASH) sectors. Collectively, these actions helped move the decentralization process forward, empowering local governments to capably provide services to citizens.

Capacity building and participatory budgeting lead to increased tax revenues and improved services

In the commune of Bagadadji, the local government struggled with mobilizing the necessary resources to meet the needs of its 18,000 residents who live in more than 80 villages. To support the local government in addressing this gap, USAID GoLD adopted an integrated governance approach, which incorporates key governance techniques across sectors, such as inclusive citizen priority setting, civil society engagement, and government accountability in combination with sectoral-focused interventions. With USAID leadership and support, the activity collaborated with USAID implementing partners in health, education, and WASH that were operating in target areas to amplify results through joint work planning, sharing of resources, and office co-location where feasible. The end goal of the integrated governance approach was to improve service delivery for citizens.

The first step focused on community meetings that included local elected officials, representatives from women’s and youth groups, and other leaders. This helped to educate the population about the purpose, importance, and benefits of paying taxes.

Next, citizens participated in deciding how best to utilize the collected taxes to fund projects and services. This important participatory planning and budgeting step made them active participants in tax collection efforts, as well as decision-makers in how resources should be used to improve their community. It ensured their voice was incorporated in the prioritization of the projects, developing a common sense of ownership and pride.

As a result, within a few months, the commune of Bagadadji generated over 4 million Financial Community of Africa francs (CFA) in tax revenue (equivalent to almost $6,000) – a significant increase from the previous collection amount of $150,000 CFA (approximately $221). With this increased revenue, the community then leveraged these funds to receive additional funding from the National Program for Local Development to build four classrooms and repair a local bridge.

“Mobilizing local resources has always been a major challenge for the commune,” said Massiré Touré, Bagadadji's mayor. “USAID GoLD’s support in informing and educating the population on the importance of paying taxes has allowed us to mobilize financial resources to meet the priority needs of the population.”

Replicating results

USAID GoLD supported a similar process across 77 local governments, helping to improve accountability and transparency in the delivery of services across the country. This effort resulted in significant improvements to stakeholder leadership, inclusive citizen engagement, and resource mobilization to fund and improve service delivery in education, health, WASH, and other areas. 

For example, in Bagadadji and Médina Chérif, local authorities conducted the participatory budgeting process with more than 1,300 community members. Approximately 50 percent of the participants were women, paving the way for a more inclusive budget and planning processes.

In Tambacounda, more than 90 million CFA francs were invested in the health, education, and WASH sectors. Some of these funds were also invested in the market equipment sector, which is a significant source and opportunity for the municipality of Tambacounda to generate its own revenue.

Since the launch of USAID GoLD, the number of local governments using this participatory budgeting progress has increased, from eight local governments in 2017, to 50 in 2022. This increase demonstrated that local governments understand and appreciate the importance of participatory budgeting and how it is improving their communities.

Not only does this buy-in create long-term sustainability, but it also yielded impressive results.  A total of 95% of partner local governments improved local revenue collection.  In a sample of 15 local governments, they reported a 74% increase in revenues collected and a 32% increase in investments in target sectors between 2017 and 2020.

Improving health service delivery via integrated governance

USAID GoLD focused on improving coordination with national and local leaders in various sectors through the development and implementation of joint action plans. These efforts significantly improved the efficiency of service delivery, especially in the health sector. Improved coordination among USAID GoLD partners with other USAID projects (Assainissement, Changement de Comportement et Eau pour le Sénégal [Accès], Renforcement du Système de Santé [RSS+], and Neema), allowed all partners to share costs, co-produce tools, and harmonize their practices and approaches.

For example, in the Tambacounda region, the Koumpentoum health facility serves an estimated population of 11,800, including roughly 2,800 women of childbearing age. Yet, it faced several challenges in meeting the needs of the community. The laboratory, morgue, and operating room were nonfunctioning, due to a lack of equipment and personnel. The single ambulance was insufficient to cover all necessary trips. For complicated pregnancies requiring emergency obstetric and neonatal care, patients had to be transferred to a health center located 100 kilometers away, increasing the risk of maternal and neonatal mortality.

To improve service delivery, the USAID GoLD program again utilized an integrated governance approach to support citizen advocacy, local health committee training, and platforms for dialogue between the community and local government. Together, citizens and government officials developed an action plan for improving health service delivery and mobilizing local funds to finance the projects.

As a result, the community used local revenues to accomplish all its priority projects, including purchasing laboratory and dental office equipment, repairing ambulances, purchasing two additional ambulances, rehabilitating the operating room and morgue, and constructing a biomedical waste incineration site.

In addition to revitalizing local organizations, the integrated governance approach demonstrated to citizens that community involvement is a viable option for resolving problems and improving the quality-of-service provision. Medical and administrative authorities also initiated a special health committee to fund priority projects. The local authorities, village chiefs, local health committees, women's groups, and other associations continue to be actively engaged.

"USAID GoLD's approaches have enabled the community to better identify needs and to quickly orient itself towards priorities. This experience with GoLD has demonstrated to the people that it is possible to have strong local organizations to manage problems related to improving the quality of service delivery, that it is possible to find our own funds to finance the equipment of our health facilities.” —Dr. Kalidou Bâ, District Chief Medical Officer in Koumpentoum (Tambacounda region)

Collaboration, Learning, and Adapting for Better Results

USAID GoLD  developed robust tools and processes to capture feedback and facilitate reflection to measure outcomes. RTI used baseline, midterm, and endline instruments, and several active learning tools—such as after-action reviews and outcome journals— to record successes and challenges to implementation. These approaches enabled the project to make necessary adjustments to current activities and to inform future work. 

For example, RTI conducted a study to measure what value USAID GoLD’s integrated governance approach adds to health service readiness and delivery. Findings from this analysis can be used to help inform future projects to ensure ongoing success.

To promote long-term sustainability, USAID GoLD also encouraged citizen participation in monitoring service delivery. The project organized over 40 sessions for building community engagement; explaining roles and responsibilities; highlighting health, education, and WASH policies and norms; and teaching monitoring and evaluating performance measurements. Thanks to these sessions, citizen advocacy groups now understand governance norms, which has allowed them to better monitor and advocate for improved basic social service delivery.

Key Achievements of USAID GoLD

USAID GoLD’s activities are yielding real results and positive impacts in Senegal, including:

  • Expansion of Social Inclusion in Advocacy Efforts: 
    • USAID GoLD engaged more than 630 diverse organizations in budgeting processes and/or advocacy for public service delivery. This included approximately 200 women's organizations, 330 youth groups, and nearly 100 persons with disabilities organizations.
    • More than 16,000 local authorities were trained in leadership, planning, governance, local management, sector management, and citizen engagement, 27% of which were women and 30% youth.
    • USAID GoLD supported its civil society partners to launch advocacy efforts to improve local public services. Of the total 460 advocacy activities, 130 were in health, 213 in education, 115 in WASH, and 2 national campaigns to reinforce the leadership skills of elected women officials and another to improve the revenues and fiscal status of local governments.
  • Increased Awareness and Expanded Monitoring and Evaluation: 
    • Almost 5,600 community members were trained on policies and standards in the sectors, of which 24% were women and 30% youth.
    • More than 16,500 citizens participated in community meetings while community groups organized approximately 1,260 sessions to monitor standards and evaluate sector services, providing feedback to local government and sector providers to improve services.
  • Empowering Local Governments and Improving Service Delivery: 
    • Approximately 97% of USAID GoLD local governments are implementing social accountability tools with their citizens.
    • 66% of USAID GoLD local governments have applied the participatory planning and budgeting process.
    • 69% of USAID GoLD local governments are implementing compliance protocols with sectoral infrastructure standards via the monitoring of 273 facilitates.  Compliance in the health sector was 75%, 64% in education, and 68% in WASH.