How can we adapt to the new normal?

Originally authored by Yeukai Mukorombindo: January 25, 2021

Introducing the learning exchange survey

As part of a peer learning exchange funded by the Open Society Foundation, the African Tax Administration Forum (ATAF), Global Integrity (GI) and Public Service Accountability Monitor (PSAM) have been sharing lessons and reflections about the processes and challenges of adapting to COVID-19. We were curious to know how our partners and other fiscal governance organizations working in Africa were adapting to the challenges of a global  pandemic. In October of 2020, we disseminated an online survey among fiscal governance civic actors asking about the challenges and needs concerning COVID-19 adaptation. A total of 24* organizations from Southern, Eastern, Western, and Central Africa responded to our survey.

The full article can be accessed here .

We’d like to also extend our gratitude to all the partners that contributed to the survey, your input is highly appreciated.

Harnessing Accountability through External Public Audits Global Launch Event

Harnessing Accountability through External Public Audits Global Launch Event
November 17 2020 – 8.30 am to 9.30 am EST

The INTOSAI Development Initiative (IDI), the International Budget Partnership (IBP) and the World Bank are convening a global launch of a new report, Harnessing Accountability through External Public Audits: An assessment of national oversight systems. The report, jointly developed by IDI and IBP, draws on data from IBP’s
latest Open Budget Survey to evaluate different aspects of the audit and oversight function in 117 countries and offers recommendations on how these systems can be strengthened.

This event will bring together representatives of supreme audit institutions (SAIs), civil society organizations, international development partners and other public financial management experts to discuss the report’s results and critical next steps.

For more information and to access the full details regarding the event, follow this link Harnessing Accountability through External Public Audits Nov 17 Agenda

You may also be interested in reading the event blog and report. To access the event, please click on this event link.

PSA Annual Newsletter – September 2020

Persevering through a pandemic COVID-19 Initiatives

Social accountability is dynamic – while the standards are constant, the actors and contexts, and so our responses, are forever in flux. The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in Southern Africa was a reminder of just how quickly our plans, assumptions and ways of working can be forced to change and adapt.

The pandemic led the PSA Alliance to reassess its approach, as well as develop contingency plans for how its team members operate, interact with partners and communities, and implement activities.
The full newsletter can be accessed on this link

Webinar-IBP and UNICEF- Open Budget- Wednesday 23 Sept

The IBP and UNICEF will be hosting a webinar on Wednesday 23 Sept 2020 where PSAM will be contributing.

Details are as follows:

Topic: Open budgets as the driving force of effective COVID-19 response and recovery: What can countries in Eastern and Southern Africa do better?

Description: Governments around the world are mobilizing vast public resources to respond to and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic shocks. While speed is critical to save lives and limit economic hardships, the urgency means the risk of mismanagement, waste, and corruption is considerable. UNICEF’s Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) regional office and the International Budget Partnership (IBP) present this webinar on open budgets during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The objectives of this webinar is to: (i) share how the results and recommendations of the latest OBS are particularly relevant as countries respond to and recover from the crisis; (ii) discuss country experiences on opening budgets; and (iii) explore opportunities for continued reforms on open budgets in ESA.


Time : Sep 23, 2020 08:00 AM in Eastern Time (US and Canada)


To register, please use the following link: Please feel free to share this link with  networks and partners.

Southern Africa on the Brink of Famine? Recovery from food crisis through resilient, accountable and gender-responsive agricultural development.

Policy brief Originally Written by Julie Middleton in September 2020

The spread of COVID-19 throughout Southern Africa1 will worsen the region’s already dire conditions of food insecurity and malnutrition. The effects of climate change – persistent drought, flooding and pests – compounded by economic challenges, poverty, conflict and gaps in social accountability, have all contributed to an impending food crisis in the region. Close to 44.8 million people in Southern Africa are estimated to be food insecure as of July 2020; representing a 67% increase from 2017 (26.9 million people) and a jump of 10% from just a year ago (41.2 million people) (SADC 2020).

To read more, you can access the full brief on this link, PSA Food Crisis Policy Brief Sept 2020 – Final


Originally published on the 22nd of August. Videos of this content can be found on this link

The urgent nature of Covid-19 has resulted in the allocation of millions of dollars to governments across the world in order to successfully combat COVID-19 and to cushion the most vulnerable populations. Corruption in public spending is and has always been a significant global governance challenge before the crisis, but the COVID-19 pandemic has increased opportunities for abuse and misappropriation of Covid-19 public funds  due to the quick nature of disbursements and the loosening of oversight regulations in order to meet urgent needs. This has heightened the importance of adapting and strengthening local governance accountability and oversight strategies by accountability actors.  As such the civic actors are having to devise anti-corruption strategies to combat Covid-19 related corruption. The  Account4Covid initiative  recently facilitated a webinar to shed more light on what civic efforts are doing to expose and fight COVID-19 related corruption. 


Webinar presentations by accountability actors highlighted examples depicting the nature of Covid-19 corruption. A common denominator between the various cases is the misuse of power and political influence to misdirect resources intended to provide relief from the impacts of the pandemic to the most vulnerable. Another important thread knitting them together is the involvement of civil society actors in exposing and unravelling the webs of graft, money laundering and patronage. This, in part, is achieved through various interventions aimed at publicising allocations and tracking expenditure. The second #Account4COVID webinar brought together speakers from across the African continent to fix a lens on their experiences in implementing anti-corruption strategies.


COVID-19 has not only exacerbated weaknesses in African states’ public financial management (PFM) systems but in some cases has curtailed the abilities of many citizens and elected representatives to exert much-needed accountability and oversight. The pandemic has vividly exposed recurrent and novel corrupt practices as more and more questions are asked and closer scrutiny of the public service is undertaken by some media, civil society organisations and funding entities. How often have we heard the relatable lament that  ‘COVID-19 is more than just a health crisis’? The Hansel and Gretel-esque nature of tracking COVID-19  resources is increasingly highlighting this truism. Our interventions, therefore, must – if we are to safeguard precious resources  in the long-term – recognise that the problem is both about adequate health responses as it is about public resource management (PRM) systems reform. 


The consequences of continued failures to stem corruption are dire; the lives of hundreds of Africans are at stake. 


Amongst the #Account4COVID initiative partners is BudgIT – one of the continent’s foremost civic tech fiscal transparency organizations based in Nigeria. Founding Director, Oluseun Onigbinde facilitated the conversation – beginning by highlighting the overarching challenges introduced by COVID-19 and related emergency spending and procurement complexities. A fundamental reminder foregrounding this all – is that there are numerous dedicated, innovative civil society leaders in Africa who are committed to address corruption within the public and private sectors squarely. And their approaches are as inspiring as they are varied. 


Gilbert Sedungwa, the Executive Director of the Africa Freedom of Information Centre (AFIC), shared examples of graft in Zimbabwe, Cameroon and Uganda. His presentation emphasised that corruption related to COVID-19 need not  be seen – or treated – as events that are geographically isolated or unique is a reminder of the need to deeply interrogate the systemic enablers of corruption particularly in emergency contexts. Notably – at the time of writing this article –  Nigeria (US$ 3.4 billion) and South Africa (US$ 4.3) had received the two highest loan disbursements from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) out of a total of US$ 50.9 billion to African countries. The loan to South Africa, according to Bloomberg, constitutes the IMF’s largest  single disbursement to any country to date. 


Sedungwa cited a range of factors contributing to corruption  in countries like Uganda and Mali including lack of transparency in public procurement, flouting of regulations and weak/non-existent internal controls within government implementing agencies. The innovations in response? AFIC have taken some steps to monitor international loans targeted at providing COVID-19 relief across Africa using a Relief Fund tracker. AFIC has developed:  a continental dashboard to track procurement red flags as well as a separate  dashboard for tracking COVID-19 support. In addition, AFIC has created a helpful checklist for proactive disclosures and monitoring of Covid-19 contracts. In addition, AFIC’s partnerships with  entities such as the Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition (GACC) and Centre for Human Rights Rehabilitation are monitoring the implementation of civic engagement commitments in World Bank supported Covid-19 response projects in Malawi, Ghana, Nigeria, and Uganda. 


Leonida Mutuku,  CEO of Intelipro Limited shared  insights in her capacity as a member of the Africa Open Data Network based in Kenya. Her presentation highlighted the challenge of pandemic-profeetering, a label which refers to private actors’ problematic & unethical business practice driven by self-interest for profiteering during a pandemic. Some common examples of pandemic profeetering include  the procurement and supply of Test Kits, PPE’s, Test-Kits Reagents at inflated prices. Mukutu emphasised the need for CSOs to ensure that their governments account for and explain their allocation and use of COVID-19 funds. In addition to touting the centrality of 

open budget portals in order to track funds and expose possible misuse, Mutuku emphasised the need to combine open data initiatives with efforts to enhance the effectiveness of judicial systems. High on the priority list are functional open contracting portals in order to support forensic investigations and strengthen transparency in beneficial ownership  . An important message here is that open data is merely a means to an end – not an end in itself. Mutuku shared the example of  the Action for Transparency (A4T),  pioneering project that fights corruption and mismanagement of government funds using mobile apps, social media platforms as well as ICT platforms 


COVID-19 is often likened to natural disasters. Cyclone Idai – rated as one of most severe cyclones to ever make landfall in Africa – presented several countries in the region with a range of horrific lessons. Not least of these lessons pertains to the cost to livelihoods of countries’ inadequate disaster preparedness and management. In her presentation, Janet Zhou, the Executive Director of the The Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (ZIMCODD) described a  civil society initiative coordinated by ZIMCODD to track all resources pledged, received and utilised by the government of Zimbabwe in the COVID-19 response. According to Zhou, the tool tracks cash and in-kind resources mobilised domestically and internationally. Publishing weekly updates, ZIMCODD’s Tracker provides information about resources directly or indirectly received by the government. The Tracker was developed using financial modelling with the aim of ensuring prudent stewardship of resources mobilised for national pandemic relief; tracking cash and in-kind resources


Zhou’s organisation persistently raises the lack of transparency and accountability in COVID-19 resource allocation and expenditure at both central and local government level as a concern. They raise, too, the interwoven nature of opaque reporting to systemic corruption particularly evident during times of disaster. Perhaps even more perniciously is the criminalisation of anti-corruption activists which in turn impacts citizens’ oversight and questioning  of  the allocation and spending of COVID-19 funds.


The role of civic tech tools and universal online connectivity is clearly vital. 


Nathalie Sidibe, the founder of an anti-corruption platform focused her presentation on development aid transparency in Mali in which she highlighted the value of web-based tools. Stating that the francophone country lacks open data platforms on relief funds, Sidibe identified opportunities for developing existing platforms such as SaidMali and to monitor fiscal flows in Mali. Using the example of an open data initiative using geospatial data to provide users with information about health facilities providing screening, testing and other services – she also advocated for using this data to inform future need-based health infrastructure development in Mali. 


There are clear threads weaving these pan-African interventions together. Firstly – access to information and open data where it is available is vital. Governments should proactively disclose procurement and contract data on Covid-19 response projects. Civil society organisations, too,  should use already existing data to track and publicise maladministration and fraud. 


A critical reminder from Sedungwa; development partners should emulate the IMF in disclosing Covid-19 support. We would add to that the need to publicise and raise awareness about loan conditions. Ensuring that the public have access to information pertaining to loans and projects should be a priority for governments and development partners alike. Similar to Mtuku’s, Zhou’s organization advocates for the urgent enactment of “fit-for-purpose whistle-blowers’ protection legislation” as a mechanism to enhance and promote reporting of crime in the public finance and economic sectors.


To date – our dialogues with frontline anti-corruptions activists illustrate not only the need to  establish the terms of engagement in policy and politics – but to establish multi-pronged interventions that  place access to information at the centre. We are reminded just how important the triad of transparency, accountability, and public participation (TAP) is. By involving those most affected by failures in public resource management, countries may be in a better position to adapt and strengthen their local TAP strategies particularly regarding the efficient allocation of limited resources. 


This, therefore, is an opportunity not only to acknowledge the weaknesses in key planning, budgeting, and oversight systems but to utilize open government interventions to address them. TAP strategies remain critical to solving many of these challenges as well as in bolstering our health  broader fiscal governance systems.




Since April 2020, Accountability Lab, AfroLeadership, BudgIT, Global Integrity and the Public Service Accountability Monitor have brought together various partners in Africa to share lessons in responding to accountability  and governance challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. The #Account4COVID initiative aims to promote greater accountability, civic inclusion and transparency in COVID-19 relief funds. 


For more information on this initiative – visit the #Account4COVID microsite: 


Additional links

Gilbert Sedungwa, Executive Director of Africa Freedom of Information Centre (AFIC), video presentation;

Leonida Mutuku, CEO of Intelipro Kenya and member of the African Open Data Network (AODN), video presentation;

Janet Zhou, Executive Director of ZIMCODD, video presentation;

Nathalie Sidibe, founder of Suivi de l’Aide au Développement (Said), video presentation

Reminder: FSAM Virtual Party_ 28 August 2020- Today at 14:30 C.A.T.

Good day Alumni

We hope that you are doing well and coping during these interesting times. We are aware and alive to the fact that most of our work and the world at large has been taken aback by the current pandemic. We are however confident that adapting to the new normal is also inevitable.

In this light, you are kindly invited to join our Informal Zoom Party as we will be touching base with ALL Fundamentals Alumni this Friday the 28th of August, 2020 from 14.30hrs to 16.00hrs . The purpose of this session is to check up on everyone. We would like to catch up on how you are working, individually and collectively during the pandemic.

Please register here: