I don’t really have that much of a head for numbers and row after row of spreadsheet figures has me running for the hills. When people think of national budgets they often think of hundreds of pages of dense figures in impenetrable columns. Yet budgets essentially boil down to something much simpler – money in and money out. Representing the basics of a budget can be difficult, although BudgIT in Nigeria have accepted that task with relish and have been producing simple, easy-to-understand budget visualisations over the last year. During that time, they have established themselves as the go-to people for anyone interested in understanding and accessing both national and state-level budget data. We previously supported them with a small grant and have been thrilled to watch them grow as an organisation. We have now awarded them and the Open Knowledge Foundation a joint grant of £36,800, which we hope will seriously aid their work, allow them to bring in necessary expertise and capacity building to scale their organisation and produce better visualisations.
This funding will enable BudgIT to visualise Nigeria’s 2013 national budget, as well as state budgets from six separate states. £20,800 will be used to cover staff costs (a data analyst, data visualisation expert and an in-house developer). This will enable BudgIT to undertake the above visualisations, re-develop their website and provide improved budget data analysis. A further £10,000 will enable BudgIT to work with the Open Knowledge Foundation (OKFN) to host a developers’ workshop on getting, wrangling and presenting government budget data. The remainder of the funding will go towards the cost of further visualisation skills training and platform promotion, primarily but not exclusively through online advertising.
We share BudgIT’s ideology that citizens should not only be able to access budgets, but also understand them and debate them. It’s been brilliant to watch them grow from idea to start-up and we’re hopeful that there upward trajectory will continue over the next twelve months.