Thursday, May 02, 2013

Social Audit Tool for Social Accountability in WASH Projects (Part 3)

The Author
By Emmanuel Ato Quansah
Extension Services Specialist, CWSA - UWR
It is an undeniable fact that one way of ensuring efficiency is by the demand for accountability. With the over growing interest in ensuring efficiency in service delivery for sustainability, issues of accountability has strongly emerged in varying forms. Social accountability stands as one of the critical issue of concern to almost every investor particularly in the WASH sub-sector of the global economy today. Notwithstanding, the concept, its associated tools and benefits are not fully known by many sector players.

What is Social Accountability (SA)?

Social Accountability (SA) is an action initiated by citizen groups to hold public officials, politicians, and service providers to account for their conduct and performance in terms of delivering services, improving people’s welfare and protecting people’s rights” (Affiliated Network for Social Accountability in East Asia and the Pacific (ANSA-EAP). Given the fact that the concept of social accountability is new in Ghana in relation to the implementation of projects it is imperative for explanation to be given with practical examples and made known to service delivery.

Social Accountability is an approach used by citizens and civil society organizations to demand accountability from public servants, group leaders and other service providers through civic engagement in a non-confrontational or non-accusatory manner (Allah Mensah, 2011). SA enables service beneficiaries to collected, analyzed and share project information publicly in a participatory fashion to find out if planned activities are indeed executed on the ground. Several tools can be used to ensure social accountability in the WASH sub sector. One of such tools of social accountability is the Social Audit.

What is Social Audit?

It is a Social Accountability tool which involves both the service providers and the service beneficiaries to examining the impact of the project or service in a systematic way comparing the actual benefits of a project with the expected benefits, while also looking at unexpected impacts. The outcome of social audit is shared with all stakeholders to help all forms of problems that may arise during project implementation.

How is Social Audit done?

The techniques and methodology used in social audits are;

1. Preparatory groundwork:

Define the scope and objective of the audit (e.g. drilling of borehole for a community). 
Form a committee to plan and oversee the social audit (e.g. bring on board Civil Society Organizations, government officers, service providers, service beneficiaries, volunteers etc)
Develop performance indicators with consultation from stakeholders.
Organize a public awareness campaign about the aims and benefit of Social Audit (use media, information vans,  public forum, door-to-door visits etc)

2. Information gathering and analysis

Gather relevant information of the project that relates to service provision (borehole feasibility report, contract document, project design etc) 
Elicit views, expectations, perceptions of service beneficiaries (through community meeting, survey, focus group discussion or through questionnaire administration)
Analyze the information from that relates to service provision and views, expectations and perception of service beneficiaries.

3. Public disclosure

Disseminate  findings or outcome of Social Audit to beneficiaries and service providers
Convene meetings with beneficiaries to discuss the findings and formulate proposed changes/solutions. 
Convene public dialogue meeting(s) to allow service beneficiaries to discuss the evidence with service providers.

 4. Follow-up

Use the social audit findings to undertake design road maps to address specific instances of shortfalls in the project.
Set up a body or committee to carry out periodic social audit during the project implementation (service beneficiaries, service providers, volunteers etc.)

Significance of Social Audit in WASH project

Social Audit raises public awareness and knowledge and promotes citizen empowerment and strengthens community voice by allowing community members to provide feedback, gather evidence, interpret findings and develop solutions (Pekkonen and Sadashiva, 2012). Hence, Social Audits enables both service beneficiaries and service providers in WASH projects to find lasting solutions to shortfalls during project implementation such as the construction of KVIPs or boreholes.  Social Audit creates a platform for service beneficiaries to acquire information and analyse them during project implementation.

1 comment:

  1. Hi fellas,
    Thank you so much for this wonderful article really!
    If someone want to read more about that Social accountability I think this is the right place for you!