Members of Parliament from Ghana, Togo, Niger, Gambia, Ivory Coast, and others gathered together at the just concluded two-day capacity building workshop for ECOWAS Parliamentary on Value for Money, Sustainability and Accountability in Social Sectors to discuss key challenges, share knowledge and best practices in implementing strategies that improve value in the social sector; ways to build capacity of parliamentarians to enhance their roles in ensuring value for money; and identify areas of in-depth capacity building and continued learning on improving value for money.
The event “Value for Money, Accountability and Sustainability in the Social sectors in Africa” was organized by Africa Development Bank for parliamentarians from the Economic Community of West African State (ECOWAS) with support from Government of Norway (NORAD), Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI), the Harmonization for Health in Africa (HHA) partners (WHO, World Bank, UNICEF), Collaborative Africa Budget Reform Initiative (CABRI), Gates Foundation, and Clinton Access Initiative to provide training and awareness raising programs for the various stakeholders involved in the social sectors (health, education, other social services) in Africa – both domestic – on the continent – and outside.
In his address, the Acting Secretary General of Economic Community of West African State (ECOWAS) Parliament Dr. Cheick Dansoko reiterated the objective of the workshop to the region “the objective of this workshop on removing the major bottlenecks constraining the effective use of resources, mandatory accountability and sustainability of the social sector programmes, especially in the area of health is to build on the activities of the 2011 – 2015 Strategic Plan of the ECOWAS Parliament”
Dansoko revealed that most of the success the continent is recording now is still being challenged by lot of social and economic crises “the rising wave of youth unemployment and the ever growing inequality in our various countries breed the atmosphere for crime and conflicts, issues with quality of social services being rendered by the relevant government agencies and how this impinges on the living standard of our people and even lifespan” he said.
He said further that Africa’s vision for transformation depend on domestic resource mobilization and the promotion of value for money investments in the social sector, and urged his colleagues not to see the increase in health and education alone as automatic factor that produce positive outcomes but ensuring efficiency of investments, and understanding the issues that effects the transformation of inputs into concrete development outcomes and which is central to improving the use of both domestic public and donor funding for better value for money.
The program provides support for African stakeholders to ensure that public spending in the social sectors (Health, Education and other Social services) in Africa has the most impact and generates the best results through organizing awareness-building, sensitization, capacity building and educational/training events for the key stakeholders concerned by these issues, such as senior government officials, parliamentarians, practitioners and civil society organizations.
On average 40-60% of public expenditure goes to social spending in Africa, which calls for improved governance and accountability in social spending.
In order to foster and sustain progress in human development, the former President of Africa Development Bank, Dore Ousmane said in his introductory remark that African countries need to focus on results for the money that they spend on social services to ensure efficient spending of the resources.
Ousmane said countries need to do more with less through allocative efficiency, improved governance with strong accountability and communities’ voice which requires bringing on board key players “parliamentarians have a huge role to enhance value for money in social sectors in Africa”, he said.
He revealed that the maiden edition of VfM program was held at in Tunis in 2012 with over 400 participants including African Health and Finance Minister, Head of institutions, civil society organisation, universities, the private sector and donor partners were in attendance and came out with a declaration “Tunis Declaration” to intensify dialogue and collaboration between the respective ministries and with technical and financial partners; take concrete measures in countries to enhance value for money, sustainability and accountability in health and social sectors; integrate socio-economic, demographic and health factors into broader development strategies and policies in an effective manner; design effective investments, based on evidence-based strategies and prioritization of high impact interventions; promote equitable investment; lay out the path to universal health coverage for each country.
Others include improve efficiency, including equitable access to skilled workers and the introduction of measures such as results based financing and incentives to enhance transparency and performance and reduced wastage; solidify sustainable financing system that build on and coordinating the diversity of sources of sources of finance; strengthen accountability mechanism that align all relevant partners build on the growing citizens’ voice and increase domestic resources through enhanced revenue collection and allocation.