Policy expertise

Tracking the public expenditure on children in the Pacific region

Policy Area
Solomon Islands
United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)
Jan 2015 - Apr 2016
OPM contact

This project has provided country-specific policy recommendations on how to track government expenditure on children across the Pacific region. We used existing data sources including the World Bank’s BOOST data to develop unique packages of indicators for tracking health and education spending across the region.

By developing a monitoring framework that is mapped onto existing national accounts, we are helping ensure both the comparability and sustainability of public expenditure tracking in different countries across the region.

In order to measure progress against child poverty and development targets, it’s vital we are able to account for the spending which affects them. We might know, for example, that children are beneficiaries of a country’s health sector but what proportion of national health expenditure actually benefits children?

In the Pacific region, tracking this is difficult as financial management systems in the area have not previously considered children as a discrete category to focus on.

This project was established to address these knowledge gaps by re-moulding or re-mapping existing systems in such a way that expenditure on children throughout the region is identified.

The recommendations focus on information that is routinely track-able through each country’s existing public financial management systems, so as not to rely on one off surveys.

The project was formed of three components:   a review of child welfare and public financial management (PFM) systems throughout the region; a more detailed stocktake of these systems, including a look at how budgets and expenditures are classified in each country and how child-related public expenditures can, and should, be identified in the future; and two country case studies – Fiji and the Solomon Islands – to attempt to estimate public expenditure on children and assess policy demand for this information.

Importantly, while developing tracking approaches and policy recommendations, we focused on information that is routinely trackable through each country’s existing PFM systems (drawing on sources including the World Bank’s BOOST database), to reduce reliance on costly, one-off surveys and increase the sustainability of our recommendations.

Specific activities included:

  • Desk-based research, leading to an initial inception report, a further, more detailed stocktake report and a brief for two case countries;
  • Country visits for key informant interviews; and,
  • Information system analysis – including health, education and financial management information systems.

Using our recommendations, UNICEF is testing a number of options to develop a method for tracking public expenditure on children. This will give a much better picture of progress on child development in the region, and highlight areas that need improvement.

By ensuring our recommendations are directly relatable to each country’s chart of accounts we are helping ensure continued use of tracking data.

Moreover, it is the first study to make use of the World Bank’s BOOST databases, opening up room for possible synergies in future.

Director, Social Policy