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22 January 2024 - News


By Mitchell Ainebyoona, specialist on public investment in children

The analysis of the FY2023/24 budget reveals that government spending on health, education, and social protection is increasingly constrained, posing a threat to progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

 This underinvestment is impacting human capital accumulation, incomes, and inclusive economic growth, leaving children and communities more vulnerable to disasters and shocks. Child rights sectors are seeing minimal increments, with dwindling public resources for priority areas like child protection at the district level, despite its significant impact on children’s wellbeing.

 Engagement with civil society is limited due to competition for resources, undermining the social contract, capacity gaps, fragmented advocacy, and weak internal accountability by Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and networks. Despite their critical role in supporting government services for children, CSOs struggle to demand downward accountability.

 To address this, Save the Children initiated the formation of civil society coalitions in Acholi and Karamoja sub-regions under the NORAD - Leave No One Behind framework. The goal was to strengthen efforts to advance child rights, hold the government accountable, and address issues like teenage pregnancies, child marriages, child labor, and gender-based violence.

 In 2023, Save the Children mobilized and built the capacity of civil society actors in Karamoja and Acholi sub-regions. This aimed to create a critical mass of non-state actors competent in identifying children’s priorities and engaging in child-led planning and budgeting processes. The initiatives included training in budget processes, child budget analysis, and child-centered social accountability techniques.

 As a result, there is increased CSO participation in planning and budgeting processes, as seen in FY2024/25 budget consultations organized by the Ministry of Finance. CSO members, including Caritas Moroto in Karamoja and Gulu NGO Forum in Acholi, voiced concerns for children in the budgeting process.

 The expectation is that this budget advocacy knowledge will continue in the FY2024/25 budgeting process, with CSOs mobilizing citizens for service delivery monitoring. Save the Children remains a pivotal coalition lead, facilitating, coordinating, and providing technical guidance to comprehensively and innovatively advance and protect child rights, holding decision-makers accountable at all levels.