The national budget is the country’s most relevant document after the constitution and citizens understanding this document is important. It is therefore of utmost significance for citizens to have access to budget information and most importantly understand it. In order for citizens to have access to budget allocations and be able to hold the government accountable, they must have access and understanding of the budget document. As the Gambia’s national budget continues to be tedious for citizens to access and understand, Gambia Participates partnered with the International Republican Institute (IRI) to increase fiscal transparency and accountability in The Gambia by engaging Gambians on the budget and budget processes.
Gambia Participates for the first time in 2020 introduced #BudgetOnTheStreets to make government expenditure and allocations accessible to increase budget transparency and citizen participation in the budget process. Gambia Participates put up key budget information on double sided billboards, at 6 strategic locations within the Greater Banjul Area. These locations, Banjul (opposite the National Assembly building), Westfield (Around the Gamcel Head Office), Kairaba Avenue (Opposite Zenith Bank), Bakau (Around the IEC Office), Kotu (Opposite Futurlec building), and Bijilo (Around the Atlas Petrol Station), because of how often people frequented them, thus the likelihood that they would come across the information on the billboards. The billboards were aimed at raising awareness on budget allocations, and by extension, to bring the information closer to the average Gambians thus helping familiarize them with the National Budget.
On August 22nd, 2020, Gambia Participates visited billboard sites at Bijilo, Kotu, Kairaba Avenue, Westfield and Banjul respectively to collect feedback from people. A total of 10 people were interviewed, 6 of whom were female and 4 were male. From our interactions with these people, the team found out that 85% of those interviewed have never seen or heard of the budget. It was through the billboards that most of them got to know the breakdown of the National Budget, its allocations and expenditures. This sparked interesting conversions around the budget on social media, some of the people interviewed pledged to engage their NAMs around the budget as well as the general public.
Putting the billboards on the streets has raised a lot of social media reactions among followers of Gambia Participates, the posts reached a significant number of people on all our social media platforms. The social media posts of the billboards reached close to 50,000 people, the Facebook reached 28,822 and Instagram reached 8,726 people.
Author: Aja Sirreh Touray: CSO Liaison Officer, Gambia Participates.