By ‘governance’ we mean the processes by which decisions are made and the ways in which what has been decided is carried out, or not carried out. Governments are the major players in governance, whether at federal or state level. But others, such as civil society organisations, tribal leaders and citizen groups, can influence governance too.
In a country that has ‘good governance’, the country puts its resources to good use. Basic public services work well. Citizens – including the poor and marginalised – have schools, health services, in fact all the essential services they need. Good governance matters because without it countries do not function well and cannot tackle poverty.
In the 2008 Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index, Nigeria ranked 121 out of 180 countries and, according to the UN, poverty runs at 54%. Clearly, making the changes that will help states in Nigeria function effectively – bringing about good governance – is by no means an easy task. However, there has been a growing appetite in Nigeria to find ways to support people and institutions in their efforts to change. While it’s necessary to strengthen skills in both government and civil society, what must also happen is to work towards giving them strong incentives to change. Specifically, initiatives that help better define incentives for states to function effectively – to be capable of delivering basic public services, and be responsive and accountable to citizens – and to enable stakeholders to better measure progress that is made through such improvements are key to tackling poverty.
So, in 2008, the Nigerian and UK Governments decided to set up The State Partnership for Accountability, Responsiveness and Capability (SPARC) – to build on reforms already underway. The two governments agreed to work together on two fronts: first to support governance reforms in five states (Enugu, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano and Lagos), and second to work with Federal Government agencies that support governance reform at state level. The programme started in September 2008 and will run for six years.
SPARC is supporting governance reform in three main areas: 1) How financial resources are managed, 2) How services are delivered, and 3) How strategies for development are prepared. SPARC is also helping governments to monitor their work and make sure it is adding value.
Itad is a core member of the HTSPE-led consortium managing the SPARC programme. Our role was to provide technical direction on monitoring and evaluation, with regard to internal programme M&E, capacity building support to state governments, and the establishment of a performance management framework to guide a suite of DFID funded programmes working on governance, health, education and private sector development.Image © People_Itad