Budget Transparency Initiative; In Cameroon, the vast majority of citizens do not know how public funds are supposed to be used, or what their role can and should be in managing public funds, and as a consequence, they do not participate in the conception and expenditure of budgets. In most cases, public budgets are a mystery understood only by the budget holders. The 2011 Open Budget Index (OBI) ranked Cameroon amongst the worst 22 countries scoring less than 20 points in the index ranking. The OBI assessed that Cameroon public budget holders provided little or no information on its budget to its citizens.
The Budget Transparency Initiative (BTI) is a social accountability approach which is on-going in 2 regions in Cameroon – Adamoua and North West region. It seeks to make authorizing officers more accountable in the funds entrusted in them as well as mobilize community members to analyze, discuss and give feedback to government on public funds allocation and spending. Due to its sometimes difficult nature, also dealing with students and community members at large the was the need for a tool of engaging the people. Drama for development was that tool. It has the ability to engage people and make them voice out their concerns Drama for development is a progression from less interactive theatre forms to a more dialogical process, where theatre is practiced with the people or by the people as a way of empowering communities, listening to their concerns, and then encouraging them to voice and solve their own problems. The rationale of theatre for development in the BTI project is its socio-cultural relevance to any given community. It aims at making the project beneficiaries not only aware of but also active participants in the development process by expressing their viewpoints and acting to better their conditions. It promotes civic engagement because of its ability to reflect real-life situations and connect with people’s realities. This encourages networking among community members, as well as the will to mobilize themselves towards positive social action and participation.
- â€‹Promote social accountability and Good governance.
- â€‹Reduce the rate of Corruption in public institutions.
- Empowering youth to be involved in Civic Responsibility.
1. Plays performed were developed with Community members who were versed in cultural behaviors and social problems of their community be it in the council, hospital or Schools. Moreover, local authority persons and opinion leaders were also involved in the team, people whom the community listens to and trusts.
2. We wrote the plays structuring them in a way that the three institutions inter alia hospital, schools and council are interlinked and simple for the man on the street to fully understand them. In this way, it was possible to take advantage of the knowledge that locals have about the best dates for performances and to advertise upcoming performances.
Project in Action in Schools
â€‹LALIG under the BTI project covered 20 schools. We carried drama training with the students; coaching them on voice, stagecraft, and stage movements, the differences between acting in films and on stage. We also taught them basic writing method: writing for the stage, writing a forum theatre piece. After presenting them some acting techniques such as the Stanislavski or the American method acting and the Alexander method acting.
We reorganized some of the drama clubs and those that did not have drama clubs we created them, we created seven drama clubs and the rest, we reorganized putting in place an administration.
â€‹We introduced them to Forum Theatre. It is very useful for development, In this form of theatre we do not only use professional actors, we make good use of the community members( students, villagers) who do not only act but also contribute in addressing and engaging them in whatever the issue the drama is raising, they are called spec-actors. This form of theatre is very useful in providing an atmosphere where they can voice their grievances, which most of them did not know about, but during the drama sessions we discovered that most of them have acting potential: some could improvise, have stage presence, some knew stage etiquette however with our presence most of this potentials was refined and polished through coaching and play performances, more importantly, we were able to engage them to speak out thanks to this drama form.
After getting the students attention, we proceeded to create budget clubs and created 17 budget clubs, in this budget clubs they meet and discuss themes ranging from good governance, corruption, social accountability, nonviolence protest, early in the project, we foresaw that most student might get confrontational with some of their administrators, so we brought in the idea of non-violence protest, now in some schools student will talk of” Is not about been aggressive , am just assertive”, this topic enlighten them of the importance of staying calm in the face of adversity. Most of their discussions were done in the form of forum theatre and songs, i.e they will write a play with one of the thematics above as the central theme and after their performances, they will sit down to discuss the issues, sometimes if the issues were not well understood that episode will be acted again and their discussions will continue.
This forms of theatre makes budget transparency which is somewhat a boring topic for young people more interesting, exciting and of course engaging.