About Cameroon Budget Inquirer
Deliberations around public budgets can sometimes bring out the worst in parliamentarians but impassioned responses rarely come from citizens themselves. Perhaps it is because budgets come in the form of tomes, with tables upon tables of data and very little context.
Even though those tables reflect social services and entitlements that impact us all, delving into them can leave even seasoned experts, whose bread and butter consists of budget figures, frustrated if not asleep. Making sense of budget data, extracting the interesting pieces of information, unearthing patterns, and seeing trends is a real challenge for most people, often an insurmountable one.
Cameroon Budget Inquirer seeks to change this. It takes budget information that is often buried in the computer files of a civil servant or stuck on the shelves of a remote government office and renders it ubiquitously available through the internet. In the form of appealing bubble-trees, detailed information broken down by sector or administrative tier is made visible to anyone with internet access at the click of a mouse.
Access to Budget Information
The site currently presents national public investment allocations and some execution data, investment budget data for the North West Region, revenue and expenditure data of select local councils, and the results of the first Local Council Budget Transparency Survey conducted in Adamawa. However, the ultimate goal is to add the latest recurrent and investment expenditure data as well as revenue data of the national, regional and municipal governments on a yearly basis. In short, citizens should be able to get a complete picture of the budgets of any of those entities, and also see past brushes leading to this picture.
Since simple disclosure of budget data, even in citizen-friendly form, does not ensure that resources will be well allocated and spent, the site seeks to foster active discussion around budget issues and generate feedback. It therefore features functionalities to comment on different data and to share the site on Facebook and Twitter.
Cameroon Budget Inquirer is linked to other efforts to simplify and disseminate budget information and to create spaces for public engagement on public expenditure issues in Cameroon. Outside cyberspace, the World Bank’s ongoing Budget Transparency Initiative promotes budget transparency and sensitization in Adamawa and the North West Region through radio programs, theatre performances, and community meetings in which simplified budgets of schools, health centers, and local councils are disseminated and discussed.
In addition to budgets, Cameroon Budget Inquirer will in the future visualize citizens’ choices made in participatory budgeting processes which are piloted in Yaounde.