A social audit is the process through which all details of a public scheme are scrutinised by its beneficiaries. A social audit seeks to evaluate how well public resources are being used to meet the real needs of target beneficiaries. A social audit examines all aspects of a public project, including the management of finances, officers responsible, recordkeeping, access to information, accountability, levels of public involvement, and so forth. A social audit seeks to engage the widest possible cross section of stakeholders. Public awareness meetings and a public accountability forum are an integral part of the social audit process.
Social audits are best carried out by community members through organised social audit teams as the work involved is quite demanding while the efforts need to be community owned. Most social audit teams operate on a volunteer basis and may work for a pre-determined period. The social audit teams may be assisted by local development groups such as CBOs and NGOs but ultimately the social audit is best done by project beneficiaries.
Social Audits offers a down-up accountability process for local development schemes. If well implemented the social audit is an important tool to enable local communities influence local development outcomes. Social audits are based on strong community organisation and a strong basis for building community togetherness, social capital and overcoming ethnic and political divisions. Social audits offer project beneficiaries an effective oversight tool over public resources.
Brief History of TISA’s Social Audit Initiatives
Since 2002 several organisations employed the use of social audits aware that without effective citizen vigilance and participation, public institutions are likely to abuse their powers and misuse
public resources. Organisations such as Action Aid, Abantu for Development and so forth executed various forms social audit programs. In 2006 OSIEA in conjunction with MUHURI, the MKSS and IBP undertook a pilot social training in Changamwe constituency targeting over 20 development and governance organisations. In 2007 OSIEA in conjunction with the CDF Accountability Project (now TISA) launched the CDF Social Audit Guide. It has so far disseminated over 10,000 copies. CAP (TISA) was charged with dissemination of the handbook.
Numerous organisations have taken the social audit program in full or adapted form through TISA’s direct intervention; these include Oxfam, Trocaire, Catholic Justice and Peace Commission (CJPC), ActionAid Kenya/, Bunge la Mwananchi, the Kenya Women Parliamentary Association(KEWOPA), National Anti-Corruption Campaign Steering Committee (NACCSC), National Council for Churches of Kenya (NCCK) and IEA.
TISA’s Social Audit Work
(a) Popularization of Social Audits
Since its establishment, TISA has been committed towards the popularisation of social audits as a means of enhancing citizen participation, access to information and oversight in devolved funds management in Kenya. To this end, TISA has undertaken social audit capacity building for several institutions including Oxfam, Trocaire, Catholic Justice and Peace Commission
(CJPC) Kitale, Action Aid Kenya, MSKenya, Bunge la Mwananchi, the Kenya Women Parliamentary Association (KEWOPA), International Commission of Jurists Kenya Chapter (ICJ-K),
National Anti-Corruption Campaign Steering Committee (NACCSC), National Council for Churches of Kenya (NCCK), IEA, UNDP, and an EU/NCCK/IEA program on devolved funds transparency.
Similarly, TISA in partnership with Shelter Forum and Ufadhili Trust commissioned the Nairobi Social Audit Campaign [June-December 2010].This campaign targeted three decentralized funds; Constituency Development Fund [CDF], Local Authority Transfer Fund [LATF]; and the Economic Stimulus Programme [ESP] in four Nairobi Constituencies: Embakasi, Kasarani, Lang’ata and Westlands. This Campaign centred on four thematic areas:Planning; Citizen Participation and access to information; Project utility; and transparency and accountability. This work culminated into the release of the which proposed various overarching recommendations in improving the management and utilization of local development resources.
(b) Supply Side Capacity Building
TISA has undertaken capacity building of supply side institutions towards the promotion of accountable and participatory practice in local governance. In 2009, TISA partnered with the Kenya Women Parliamentarians (KEWOPA) in a CDF capacity building of Project Management Committees and CDF management committees. The partnership was able to implement this project in all the 22 constituencies represented by women Members of Parliament (both elected and nominated).
Between 2010 and 2012, TISA in partnership with World Vision Kenya and CEPAD, with support from the European Union [EU] executed a project entitled, “Improving Governance of Decentralized Funds in Kenya”. This project was aimed at strengthening the management of decentralized funds in Kenya by enhancing local accountability and mainstreaming effective oversight by the citizens. In bid to realize these goals, TISA and partners undertook to, among other activities, train decentralized funds committees at the constituency levels. Beneficiary constituencies included Tinderet, Dagoretti, Mogotio, Narok South, Kisumu Rural, Alego Usonga, Mumias and Kitui West.
(c) Social Audit Learning Group
TISA alsocoordinates the CSO Social Audit Learning Program whichseeks to deepen social audit tools, practice and impact through continuous, reflexive learning, exchange of best practice and joint advocacy to popularize, propagate and entrench the culture of citizen vigilance in local development in Kenya. Beneficiaries of the Learning Program Include Centre for Human Rights and Civic Education (CHRCE), Centre for Enhancing Democracy and Good Governance (CEDGG), Muslims for Human Rights (MUHURI), etc.