What is a social audit?
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. The Social Audit Guide is available for download.
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.
Who conducts social audits?
Social audits are best carried out by community members through organised social audit teams as the work involved is quite demanding. 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.
Steps in the Social Audit
- Organisation of social audit teams
- Information gathering
- Analysis of information
- Awareness raising and notification of the social audit public meeting
- The public meeting
- The follow-up
Benefits of Social Audits
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.
Some key principles of the social audit process
|Download CDF Social Audit Guide|
- The purity of the social audit must be maintained at all times. It must not be politicised
- The social auditor must be impartial. He/she must not bring personal opinions, likes and dislikes into the process
- All persons have an equal right to contribute in the process irrespective of official position
- All issues raised must be supported by fact
- The officials of the CDF should provide records to the social auditors to enable informed discussion
Brief History of Social Audits in Kenya
Since 2002 several organisations have 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 have executed 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 launched the CDF Social Audit Guide.
Presently numerous organisations are undertaking various forms of social audit work. The National Tax Payers Association is joint donor initiative geared towards tracking local development fund expenditures around the country to promote citizen accountability. All these efforts will have a cumulative effort of deepening of social audit practice in Kenya and enhancing accountability and oversight, and ultimately ensuring that decentralised funds achieve their stated goals in uplifting the lives of target beneficiaries.
|Challenges in Social Audit work|
|Replication is slow- the time taken to train and carryout information gathering is times taking|
|Costly due to needed depth (grassroots workshops)|
|Sustainability- the process should not engender dependency|
|Difficulties in accessing information|