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 improving the capacity of local governments to delivery public services, the GOLD project is helping Senegal move forward in its journey to self-reliance (J2SR).
Capacity Building Leads 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.
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.