2.2.4 Social Expenditure, with an Emphasis on Education and Health

Facts/messages: Public expenditure in education and health as a percentage of the GDP is information that is available on official government web pages and is a useful macro-economic indicator for proxying the degree of commitment of governments in these areas and assessing their determination to build the capacities of individuals. Expenditure on education and investment in the capacities of future generations should be analyzed, whereas expenditure on health reflects the government’s commitment to guaranteeing the wellbeing of all generations. An ideal course of action would be to encourage governments to itemize the cost of SRH, as well as their gender budgets.

Public expenditure on population activities, including family planning, SRH, STI/HIV/AIDS and basic research, data and population and development policy analysis is an important indicator of a country’s progress in implementing the ICPD Programme of Action and should be monitored annually. Reliable and timely expenditure data are essential to inform policy. Given limited financial resources and competing priorities, it is becoming all the more important to accurately monitor the funds going to population activities. There are increasing demands for timely data on population expenditures for policy and planning as well as for advocacy purposes to mobilize the required resources to finance population programmes in developing countries and to plan for an effective response to the AIDS pandemic. Reliable and timely data will address the new aid environment call for increased attention to issues of accountability, minimizing duplication, and efficient use of resources. It will also help to improve coordination of donor policies and identification of funding gaps. With the current global financial crisis, the importance of timely and accurate tracking of resource flows is even more crucial.

It is important to encourage countries to make every effort to systematically monitor financial resources that go to population activities. This is especially important in the case of domestic expenditures. Sometimes there are difficulties in disaggregating the population component in integrated social and health projects and sector-wide approaches. There are also difficulties in disaggregating the four categories of the ICPD costed population package. Countries with decentralized accounting systems may not be readily able to provide data at lower administrative levels. Best available estimates should be provided in cases where more exact information is not available.

UNFPA regularly collects data and reports on flows of international financial assistance to population activities. The Fund’s annual reports Financial Resource Flows for Population Activities focuses on the flow of funds from donors through bilateral, multilateral and non-governmental channels for population assistance to developing countries and countries with economies in transition. Also included are grants and loans from development banks for population activities in developing countries. The report is “intended to be a tool for donor and developing country Governments, multilateral organizations and agencies, private foundations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to monitor progress in achieving the financial resource targets agreed to at the ICPD. Development cooperation officers and policy makers in developing countries can use the report to identify the domestically generated resources and complementary resources from donors needed to finance population and reproductive health programmes.”

Besides being useful for planning purposes at national level, expenditure data are necessary for UNFPA to comply with General Assembly resolutions 49/128 and 50/124 which called for the preparation of periodic reports on the financial resource flows to assist in the implementation of the ICPD Programme of Action. It also responds to a request made at the 28th Session of the Commission on Population and Development for an annual report on the flow of financial resources for assisting in the implementation of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development.

Methodology: Indicators that reflect investments in health and education as the percentage of the GDP. Data on donor assistance for population activities are regularly gathered by UNFPA with the use of a detailed questionnaire, complemented by telephone interviews, as required, from 99 key actors in the field of population and AIDS which account for most population assistance. These include donor countries that are part of the OECD/DAC and the European Union, multilateral organizations and agencies, major private foundations and other international NGOs that provide substantial population assistance. Increasingly, information for donor countries is obtained from the OECD/DAC database. For the international population assistance component, the data collection is structured in such a way as to eliminate double counting. All respondents, except primary donors, are asked to provide a breakdown of income by source, to obtain an unduplicated count of total primary funds for population assistance and check for consistency of responses. All respondents, including donor countries, are also asked to break down expenditures by recipient. Information on domestic resource flows is based on estimates of global domestic expenditures for population activities using a methodology that incorporated reporting on actual and intended expenditures, secondary sources on national spending and, in the absence of such information, estimates are based on national income.“ For more information consult the report on Financial Resource Flows for Population Activities.

Primary Sources:

Secondary Sources:

  • UNDP. Human Development Report;
  • Inter American Development Bank;
  • Asian Development Bank;
  • African Development Bank;
  • European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and national institutions.

26  Website of GTZ. Last accessed 12 August 2010. http://www.gtz.de/governance/.