Four Nairobi Constituencies come under social audit scanner
“ The public hearing and the opportunity to testify has sensitized me to the issue of the CDF and to the fact that people have a right to ask questions around CDF projects,” says a constituent from Kasarani in Nairobi.
Speaking at the launch of the Nairobi social audit exercise at Sinai in Babadogo, Kasarani Constituency, the city resident expressed hope that at last citizens would be engaged in monitoring of devolved funds. The launch was attended by over 200 Nairobi residents drawn from Embakasi, Kasarani, Langata and Westlands constituencies.
The initial social auditing exercise provided residents with firsthand data on the CDF, LATF and ESP funds and with the opportunity to monitor the use of these funds at the local level. The residents discussed how the funds had been used in the widely attended public hearing.
The Social Audit campaign in Nairobi started with the training of over 60 ward representatives drawn from the four Nairobi constituencies. The program is supported by The Institute for Social Accountability (TISA) in partnership with Shelter Forum and Ufadhili Trust. This social audit campaign aims at creating awareness of local governance institutions, resources and opportunities for citizen engagement. Through this, the citizens will be well equipped to help duty bearers in identification, planning and monitoring of developmental processes.
The TOTs were imparted with skills on how to conduct social audits on the CDF, LATF and ESP initiatives. As such, they have been well prepared for the gathering of information on what the citizen would like done so that they may feel that they are part and parcel of the local development processes.
As part of the training, over 40 projects, both CDF and LASDAP, in the respective constituencies were sampled. The findings of this field work were compiled and shared with participants at the launch event.
The training participants read out the findings of their investigation of CDF, LATF and ESP funded projects and invited residents to ask questions. The groups reported mainly finding lack of participation among citizens in decision-making processes, but they also identified the following trends:
- Over 40 projects were sampled in the respective constituencies and in all projects visited there were no implementation committees as required by law. And where they did exist they had no information to enable them be effective in monitoring the use of funds on behalf of the citizen.
- Over 50% of all funds for projects have been reallocated and used for purposes they were not initially intended. The status reports which are available to the mwananchi do not capture this information, are out of date and not useful for citizen monitoring of projects. This allows corrupt officials to divert these funds.
- In the case of CDF, the CDF Act provides that citizens will submit proposals and participate in project identification. It does not care how. There is no structure to enable citizens engage effectively in CDF planning, identification and monitoring. Our field visit confirms that this is not happening.
- Whereas LASDAP provides a good framework, the meetings only take place once a year and once projects are prioritized that is the end of wananchi’s involvement. Citizens are not given updates on the projects they select and remain in the dark. This is not in the spirit of the law. It also undermines the effectiveness of development. This lack of transparency and accountability hides important transactions from the law and fuels corruption.
The CDF was originally conceived as a “development fund” that would be used to finance projects chosen by the local community. However, accessing information on the fund and the projects it finances is no easy task. The fact that Kenya does not have an access to information law makes obtaining CDF information even more challenging. Community feedback at the launch event established that those in attendance had little or no information on the ongoing projects in their constituency and local authority. Many are afraid to ask when it comes to public financed projects, even though they have many questions.
Despite being selected as a member of the Local Authority Service Delivery Action Plan (LASDAP) committee in her ward, Elizabeth Kitaka was surprised that they had not been called to any meetings after proposing several projects.
Even members of the provincial administration were found to be in the dark. They supported the initiative and stressed the importance of citizens to engage in the monitoring of local development initiatives.
Lameck Osieko another community member suspects possible corruption when estimated amounts to be spent on projects end up being those actually spent.
Lameck commends the work being done. We appreciate this effort to fight against the corruption and make the delivery system accountable. In this way, we can improve the delivery mechanism of the programmes but be warned that corruption will fight back; he warns on the possible challenges that social auditors might face in the field.
Citizens entrust their governments with power through elections, and with resources through the payment of taxes. Those who are entrusted with this power bear a responsibility not only to serve, but also to inform citizens and encourage the public to participate in their decisions and actions.
The social auditors’ will analyze documents, identify important information, and assign responsibilities within their groups. They will also undertake a physical verification process by visiting project sites and asking residents about the projects under scrutiny.
An in-depth report will be generated in August 2010 and shared with citizens, government and other duty bearers both national and local. Social auditing is neither a fault finding instrument nor is it targeted against the government officials; it is an instrument of accountability of the public servants to the public.
The government participation in the social audit will lead to strengthening the functioning of the system as the lacunae in the system would be identified in the process and will provide the opportunity to redress them.
This massive exercise has only been made possible through the efforts of ordinary citizens relentlessly demanding accountability and seeing the potential for it. The state is being put under tremendous pressure to resolve anomalies and corruption by the strength of this massive collective effort aimed at making the state accountable, transparent and democratic.