Social Audit: A viable tool for democratic governance, accountability & transparency
Understanding Social Audit
The Social Audit is a tool to measure the effectiveness of any government/non-government program. The process ensures people‟s participation as well as effective engagement. It is implemented through specific methodologies and emphasize on programme rather than financial aspects. It ensures the accountability of government and non-government professionals. Participation of democratic local government effectively takes place in the process. The process promotes transparency in different levels. The general but basic objectives of Social Audit are: to ensure the standard and easy accessibility of local development resources and find out the economic and social gaps; to create awareness among the beneficiaries and development actors; to more active the local development initiatives; to formulate or reform policy based on the interest of common people especially rural people; to end the irregularities of services.
What is social audit
A social audit is a tool to measure effectiveness of Government/Non-Government Social Development Services. Objective of the Social Audit
- To ensure the standard and easy accessibility of local development resources and find out the economic and social gaps
- To create awareness among beneficiaries and development actors
- To more activate the local development initiatives
- To formulate policy based on the interest of rural people
- To end the irregularities of services
General Steps in the Social Audit Social audit process follows consistent steps to accomplish journey in order to bring desired changes. The major 9 steps are as follows:
- Identifying the scope of Social Audit.
- Develop a clear understanding of the management of program(/s).
- Define instruments and obtain information on program.
- Develop and conduct training package for building capacity of CSOs (Civil Society Organizations).
- Conduct orientation for community based groups/citizen groups or forums.
- Collate information.
- Dissemination of findings and recommendations.
- Public Hearing.
- Follow up of public hearing.
Possible Issue of social study
The issue would be selected through interaction with citizen forum, local government actors and service providers based on local context and feasibility. The issue might be raised from the following sectors/program undertaken by the government:
- Social Safety Net Program
- Government Health Services
- Government land services
- Stipend for students
- Agriculture services, etc
Social audit process will include multi-level stakeholders from implementation level to decision making level. The key stakeholders would be are : beneficiary group, CBO, local government‟s bodies, government officials, media people, civil society people, CSOs/NGOs representatives, policy makers and oversight institutions.
Expected results through the social audit
- Explored present situation of the selected issue.
- Identified the areas of misinterpretation and distractions.
- Identified the area of best practices and gaps regarding the program/service.
- Determined strategies for mitigation and improvement.
- Reflected the necessity of new initiatives.
- Raise people‟s awareness and engagement in playing pro-active role.
- Analysis of available resources and strengths.
- Chalked out ways on collaborative relationships between right holders and duty bearers.
BITA intervention on Social Audit
Government safety net program of VGD
With a view to contribute in development initiatives, BITA has successfully implemented Pilot Initiative of Social audit on VGD program during May – June‟10 with the support from PROGATI (Promoting Governance, Accountability, Transparency and Integrity) in Chittagong district. The findings of social audit pilot study have been shared with senior officials of ministries of Food & Disaster Management and Women & Children Affairs. The results of social audit sharing revealed that social audit is found as an important tool to review and assess any project that help to find out gaps and weaknesses in the process and project implementation and encounter fulfilling the objectives of development program. Based on successful experience, BITA conducted social audit in five districts in Khulna division. Accordingly the social audit study from September 2010 to February 2011 and covered 30 unions of 10 Upazilas in 5 districts in association with local 23 CSOs. The major findings were shared in upazila level public dialogues as well as different policy making or oversight tiers resulting in credibility over social audit process as well as valuable opinions & recommendation to overcome deviations in conducting VGD program.
Citizen rights on health care system: Safe maternal & child health
By the financial support of EC & technical support from Oxfam GB BITA implemented a project names NSA in Chittagong, Luxmipur & Noakhali district. Under the project intervention conducting social audit is one of the most significant areas. Covering the 3 districts project had run on the intervention in five of Upazilla including Chittagong city corporation area during 2011-2013. The overall recommendations of the intervention are to established local level satellite clinics; ensure available & regular service delivery; arrange mass awareness; strengthening monitoring process etc.
People information regarding Government service of MSW (Ministry of Social Welfare)
By the support of SCi (Save the Children International) BITA is implementing a Child Protection Thematic project in Bandarban at sadar upazilla. In Chittagong Hill tracts the indigenous communities are not aware about the service package supported by the different govt department & its procedure. The intervention of social audit methodology brought out the window where mass awareness & capacity of community are essential. As well as the role of respective department should be more activate for making equal understanding on respective service package. The intervention conducted on 2013 in Bandarban sadar upazilla by covering 2 of union parisad constitutions.