Senegal has been on a positive trajectory towards more democratic governance over the last several years and focused on increasing how the government and citizens can work in partnership to plan and implement development priorities.
Part of this process includes formalizing ways for citizens to voice their needs and concerns and establishing mechanisms for improved resource allocation, oversight, and checks and balances.
To support these reforms, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded GoLD activity, implemented by RTI International and international and local partners, works to strengthen the ability of Senegal’s local governments to respond to citizen requests, improve collection and management of local resources and foster community participation in the delivery of public services. By building the capacity of local governments to improve delivery of public services in health, education, agriculture, and nutrition, the GoLD project is helping Senegal move forward in its journey to self-reliance (J2SR).
Capacity Building and Participatory Budgeting Lead to Improved Services and Processes
The GoLD project successfully takes an integrated governance approach, as illustrated by the process and results of the commune of Bagadadji, which until recently struggled in mobilizing the necessary resources to meet the needs of its 18,500 residents living in 86 villages.
Partnering with USAID/GoLD, the commune adopted a multi-step approach to address this issue. First, community meetings with local elected officials, representatives from women’s and youth groups, and religious and traditional leaders helped educate the populations about the purpose, importance and benefits of paying taxes. Next, citizens of the commune were asked to take part in deciding how best to apply the taxes that were collected to fund projects selected by the community. This important “participatory planning and budgeting” step made them active participants in the tax collection efforts, as well as decision-makers in how resources should be used to improve their community.
As a result, within a few months, the municipality generated over 4 million CFA francs in tax revenue, an increase over the 150,000 CFA collected on average each fiscal year. They were then able to leverage these funds to receive additional funds 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.”
A similar process has taken place across 50 communes helping improve accountability and transparency in the delivery of services across the country. Significant results have been achieved in terms of improving stakeholder leadership, mobilizing resources to fund sectors, and mobilizing leaders to improve education; health; water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH); and nutrition services.
In 2019, 25 of GoLD's 63 partners (40%, compared with a target of 30%) used a participatory budgeting and planning process addressing specific sectors. This shows that communes understand the importance of participatory budgeting and are making the political decision themselves to implement it. In Bagadadji and Médina Chérif, for example, local authorities conducted the process themselves. Over 1,300 people, including 471 women and 924 men, participated in the process, from budget priority talks to community and village/neighborhood forums—an indication of how important citizens believe this activity to be. Of note, women made up nearly 50% of the participants in these community meetings, a good start for allowing women (and youth) to express their concerns and specific needs so they can be taken into account in future budget cycles.
Importantly, the number of communes using the participatory budgeting process is rising each year: from eight in 2017 to 12 in 2018 and 25 in 2019.
Improving Health Service Delivery
GoLD focuses on improving coordination with national and local leaders in various sectors through the development and implementation of joint action plans. This has significantly improved the efficiency of service delivery. In the health sector, GoLD partners with other USAID projects (the Assainissement, Changement de Comportement et Eau pour le Sénégal [Accès], Renforcement du Système de Santé [RSS+], and Neema), allowing all partners to share costs, co-produce tools, and harmonize their practices and approaches.
The joint action plans identify priority areas for investment based on community input. In the Tambacounda and Kolda regions, malaria control efforts were prioritized due to a rise in malaria infection and mortality rates. GoLD worked with Neema and RSS+ to co-organize malaria awareness and advocacy days in various health outposts where participants learned about the responsibilities of elected officials and communities (community-based organizations, religious leaders, women, and youth, for example) in malaria control efforts.
GoLD worked with the Fédération des Associations Féminines du Sénégal to strengthen the role of women in malaria control efforts, resulting in three district-level capacity building workshops in Kolda on the role of women's associations and female elected officials in improving service delivery to control malaria.
In other health areas, the project helped improve accommodations for patients and addressed drug shortages in Médina Yoro Foula—two sources of conflict between patients and their accompanying family members and health district staff. GoLD trained health facility managers to commit to improving the quality of patient accommodations in the health district and the management of drug supplies in the pharmacy.
I really like USAID/GoLD's approach because it has allowed the community to monitor and have a clearer picture of their needs and quickly determine priorities… [P]rogress has been made in implementing the [Citizen Voice and Action, CVA] plan, with the equipment of the operating room and laboratory, the ambulance repair and acquisition of a new ambulance, the building of a biomedical waste disposal site, etc. All of these actions in the CVA action plan were completed with the community's own revenue and support from the Health Development Committee." —Dr. Kalidou Bâ, District Chief Medical Officer in Koumpentoum (Tambacounda region)
Collaboration, Learning, and Adapting
USAID/GoLD also strengthens and builds on its collaboration with other USAID programs, government agencies, and other projects working in the health, WASH, food security, and education sectors, resulting in synergies in training, community engagement, action plans, and co-development of education materials.
USAID/GoLD has put in place robust tools and processes to capture feedback and facilitate reflection in order to measure cross-sectoral outcomes and contribute to learning objectives. In addition to baseline, midterm, and endline instruments, several active learning tools—including after-action reviews, outcome journals, and learning and issues logs—record successes and challenges to implementation in real time and allow stakeholders to improve project activities.
RTI is currently conducting research on the added value of the project’s integrated governance approach on service delivery in the health sector. We are using an experimental design to examine health sector outcomes in regions benefiting from GoLD integrated governance interventions and comparing them with non-GoLD regions. The ongoing research examines both the process of integration (planning, partnerships, co-programming) and the results of integration (impact on health service delivery and health outcomes). Findings from the quantitative phase of the study are expected in December 2020.
GoLD also encourages citizen participation in monitoring service delivery. The project organized over 40 sessions on the Citizen Voice and Action approach; roles and responsibilities; health, education, and WASH policies and norms; and monitoring and evaluating performance measurements. Thanks to these sessions, citizen advocacy groups now understand governance norms in the health, education, and water sectors, which has allowed them to monitor and supervise service delivery norms and advocate to local decision makers to improve basic social service delivery.