Tracking aid money through citizen activism
Organisation URL: followthemoney.org
When more than 400 children died from lead poisoning during a gold rush in Bagega, Nigeria in 2010, the government pledged $5.3 million to clean up the topsoil and provide medical care to affected children. But by mid-2012, there was still no sign of the promised funds.
Public and aid money does not always reach the communities that need it due to bureaucracy, corruption or incompetence. Lack of transparency means that local communities rarely have up-to-date information on where their funds are, or when they will be delivered.
A group of young and digitally savvy Nigerians founded CODE (Connected Development, later renamed Follow The Money) to campaign for the government to deliver the funds to tackle lead poisoning in Bagega, using the #SaveBagega hashtag to get through to members of the government, aid organisations and the general public.
By January 2013, they reached over one million people, and dozens of media outlets picked up their story. The government released the $5.3 million promised to Bagega, and the Follow The Money team visited the village every month to make sure the aid was distributed and treatment carried out on more than 1,500 children suffering from lead poisoning.
Building on their success, the Follow The Money team now has over 20 citizen journalists and activists to track government and aid funding. More recently, they have been monitoring a government programme that promised to spend $4.8 million on 750,000 clean-burning cooking stoves and 18,000 portable slow cookers for rural women in Nigeria, 95,000 of whom die from cooking smoke each year. Over 15% of the funds have been released so far, thanks to the group’s efforts.
Follow The Money has impacted over 26,000 lives and plans to open a 24-hour news room to share voices from rural communities in Africa. Find out more at http://followthemoneyng.org
Image courtesy of European Commission DG ECHO
Last updated: 26th of June, 2015