Social Services Budgeting in Southern Africa

5th December 2018
Author: Laura Bolton

It is not possible to do a formal comparison of budget allocations within social services in different countries with the data identified. The data from different countries are from different sources and different years and budget allocations are measured and reported in different ways. There are even some discrepancies from different sources on the same country. The data reported here, however, can be used to give a broad impression of the amounts of social budgets apportioned to wages for comparison. High wage bills for general government expenditure has been highlighted as problematic in recent years and a focus for development reform across different sectors. The concern of this query was the amount of budgets spent on employment within health, education and social protection services. Budget apportioned to other areas of services is more difficult to compare as reporting is not uniform. Some reports describe data on other allocations more specifically, such as amount apportioned to infrastructure, supplies, equipment, and donor development. And some are described more broadly eg. Other recurrent transactions. A balance between funding for different areas is required for optimising services. For example, a well-staffed health facility requires equipment and infrastructure with which to function and conversely a well-equipped facility needs trained staff to deliver the services (UNICEF, 2017a). This rapid review draws on literature on social services budgeting in Southern Africa by drawing samples from Zambia, Malawi, Botswana, Mozambique and South Africa by focusing on three key services including Health, Education and Social Protection.

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Suggested Citation

Bolton, L. (2018). Social services budgeting in Southern Africa. K4D Helpdesk Report 487. Brighton, UK: Institute of Development Studies


5th December 2018


Continent: Africa

Country: Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa