Bahari Social Audit

Document Sample
Bahari Social Audit Powered By Docstoc
					                                   Notes on a Kenyan Awakening:
                                     A Public Hearing in Kilifi
                                   By Manuela Garza and Sowmya Kidambi
                                               MKSS, IBP


A song, popular amongst Kenyan social movements, calls the country to action: “Wakenya Msilale,
bado mapambano.” “Kenyans, don‟t sleep, there is still a struggle.” Muslims for Human Rights
(MUHURI)—a human rights organization working in the coastal city of Mombasa, Kenya, brings
music, slogans, and theater to the street in small towns and villages, inviting citizens to raise their
voices and fight for access to information and accountability—their right to demand more
transparent, efficient and responsive public budgets. MUHURI‟s objective is to ensure transparency
and accountability in Kenya‟s controversial Constituency Development Fund(CDF), a fund that
provides every Member of Parliament (MP) $1 million dollars per year to spend on poverty
reduction in their constituencies. Its strategy: Use Social Audit tools and the courage and
commitment of ordinary people to fight for a more democratic and just Kenya.

Social Audit—an initiative that engages citizens in the direct monitoring of government-financed
projects at the local level—is a process that was pioneered in India by a grassroots, rural-based
organization, Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS) (A Union for the Empowerment of
Peasants and laborers). MKSS has used social audits to hold Indian officials and office bearers
accountable. Through this process, MKSS has offered innumerable communities a space to voice
their concerns and priorities, as well as to demand more participatory decision-making processes.

MUHURI, who has long been involved in human rights issues in Kenya, is employing budget
analysis and social auditing effective tools for accessing, compiling and disseminating information on
CDF-supported projects in the Coast Province. With the financial support of the Open Society
Institute East Asia (OSIEA) and the technical support of members from MKSS and the
International Budget Partnership (IBP), MUHURI‟s first social audit and public hearing exercise
took place in Mombasa‟s Changamwe Constituency in August 2007, after a long struggle to access
detailed records related to expenditure incurred on each of the CDF projects. 1 The exercise
provided citizens at different levels—from MUHURI trained staff to village citizens—with first
hand data on CDF funds and with the opportunity to monitor the use of these funds at the village
level. The residents were given the opportunity to discuss their findings in a widely publicized and
well-attended public hearing.

This report focuses on MUHURI‟s second social audit training exercise and public hearing event,
which took place in the Bahari Constituency in the Kilifi District in July 2008. For the second time
in less than a year, MUHURI was able to access to detailed information about CDF projects and
trained members of its staff and affiliates in other regions of Kenya about the CDF and the social
auditing methodology. Armed with this information, the social auditors visited several villages and
project sites to raise the awareness of the local communities and work with them to assess whether
CDF funds were being implemented correctly in order to benefit the targeted population.

1Kidambi, Sowmya and Ramkumar Vivek “Twataka Pesa Zetu: A Public Budget Hearing in Kenya” (IBP:2007)
www.internationalbudget.org. To date, there is no Access to Information Law in Kenya. There is a bill which has been
pending in the Parliament for many years now.


                                                                                                                       1
As was the case the first time around, the training was facilitated by MKSS and IBP social audit
experts. Several Tanzanian organizations, including the Policy Forum and Women‟s Dignity Project,
were invited to the training to gain experience assessing the implementation and transparency of
CDF funds.2,3 In many ways, this second social audit event marks the beginning of a regional alliance
to advocate for greater transparency and accountability for CDF and other public funds in East
Africa.

The paragraphs that follow describe the dynamics and outcomes of this second social audit exercise.
An attempt has been made to highlight MUHURI‟s role in accessing this traditionally “official
secret”4 information, their learning process and experiences so as to provide other organizations
around the world with useful insights and lessons regarding social audits. The report also
incorporates the feedback of those directly impacted by CDF funds emphasizing their opinions
around the social audit process and why it is important for them in terms of citizen participation. It
is our belief that their voices vividly express why these kinds of processes are so important in their
potential to strengthen the impact of other types of applied budget work.


The First Step towards Social Auditing: accessing CDF information

Even though CDF was originally conceptualized as a                                        Box 1
„participatory fund‟ which should include the voice and                    Minimum CDF Information Necessary for a
opinion of the community and its citizens, accessing                                   Social Audit
information pertaining to the fund and the projects it                        1.   Second Schedule- list of projects
finances, is virtually impossible. The fact that Kenya                        2.   Third Schedule-description of projects
still does not have an Access to Information Law,                             3.   Minutes of Meetings- decision making
makes accessing this information even more                                         processes and priorities.
                                                                              4.   Bill of Quantities (BQ) - materials,
challenging.                                                                       laborers, tasks, items, bids, etc.
                                                                              5.   Completion Certificates-certify that
For this second social audit exercise, MUHURI                                      the project has been completed.
contacted the Constituency Development Committee
(CDC) of Kisauni constituency—located in the
outskirts of Mombasa—who had agreed initially to provide CDF records of 15 projects for the
social audit team to analyze and disseminate in the locations, followed by a public hearing. This was
based on an agreement between MUHURI and the newly elected Member of Parliament who
represents this constituency. Unfortunately, a week before the training social audit training, the
Kisauni CDC offices were „ransacked‟ and the records that were to be used by MUHURI for the
social audit exercise—which pertained to the outgoing CDC‟s activities—were „stolen‟. Last year
Kenya had its Parliamentary elections, MUHURI suspects that the „robbers‟ might have been people
managing the funds for the outgoing MP.


2 As of March 2008, MUHURI joined IBP‟s Partnership Initiative, which is providing financial support to expand
MUHURI‟s social audit work in Kenya. The Policy Forum and Women‟s Dignity Project are informal partners of the
IBP through the Civil Society Budget Initiative.
3 Tanzania has been debating on the implementation of a CDF Act which has been very controversial and opposed by

civil society organizations.
4 All countries that were colonies of the British have a legacy of the “Official Secrets Act”, which is used to date by most

governments as a means to suppress all information related to issues of governance.


                                                                                                                           2
                                                                   As a consequence of this unsuspected
                                Box 2                              event—this also gives us an example of the
                   Steps in a Social Audit Exercise                challenges faced by civil society groups
           1.   Organization of social audit teams;
                                                                   when attempting to access documents
           2.   Information gathering;                             pertaining to public expenditure. MUHURI
           3.   Analysis of information;                           had to contact other CDC‟s to access CDF
                     o During Social Auditing workshop with
                          auditing teams.
                                                                   information in order to be able to carry out
           4.   Project Verification „In Situ’                     the Social audit exercise. The only CDC
           5.   Awareness raising and notification of the social   willing to share information with MUHURI
                audit public meeting (permanent);
           6.   Public hearing ;
                                                                   was Bahari Constituency. The reason: the
                     o With testimonies from community             „good reputation‟ of the outgoing MP and
                          members                                  CDC members whose projects were
                     o With presence of government/legislative
                          officials
                                                                   considered to be implemented well.
           7.   Follow-up, Preparation of public meeting report,
                Dissemination of the report/ Follow up on                  In their own words during an interview,
                resolutions;
                                                                           Bahari CDC officials explained that „they
      Source: Open Society Initiative East Africa                          had nothing to fear‟ as they were considered
      http://www.soros.org/initiatives/osiea/articles_publications/publica
      tions/cdf_20080201/popular_20080808.pdf
                                                                           to be an example of transparency and well
                                                                           managed CDF in the region. In a matter of
days, the CDC members of Bahari provided MUHURI with extensive information on 13 projects in
different localities pertaining to their constituency. What did they asked for in return? Taking part in
the social audit training and insisting that the social auditors share their information, methodologies,
and findings with them, the audited entity.

As the following sections explain in greater detail, including the CDC officials in the training teaches
at least two fundamental lessons to aspiring social auditors:
      Social Auditors and members of the implementing agency cannot carry out the audit process
         together. If the process of scrutiny is to be fair and impartial it is mandatory that the Audit
         be carried out by a group that is independent of the implementing agency.
      Secondly, public information cannot come with a pre-condition, as it is a right. One should
         be open and honest about the purpose and the dynamics of the social audit as the
         participation of public officials in the public hearing is fundamental; however, one must also
         be categorical that the officials cannot be part of the teams that go into the localities to
         disseminate the information and get feedback from the community. It is unfair to the
         members of the community, since there might be many people who wish to testify but are
         worried that anything they say against the CDC, (which is usually very powerful and made up
         of the rural elites) will get them into trouble after the Social Audit is over. They have to live
         in the localities after all. Many people would also view it as eyewash, wondering how an audit
         of this kind can be impartial if members of the CDC are present in the teams doing the
         audit. While the findings of the Social Audit teams can be discussed with the implementing
         agency, before the public hearing, it is vital not to disclose the names of those willing to
         testify, till they come and testify at the public hearing. By revealing the names of the people
         who are willing to testify, there is a great possibility that pressure will be exerted on them by
         vested interests to stop them from coming to the meeting and testifying in public. At no
         point can any compromise be made on what will be revealed or not revealed in the public
         forum. The truth as it has been narrated to the Social Audit teams must be read in the Public
         Forum to maintain the integrity and the ethics of the Public Hearing.


                                                                                                                     3
For MUHURI, the consequences of including these officials in the training gave them something
more, besides the lessons previously mentioned: a stronger determination to push for an access to
information law in their country. Along with it, accessing budgetary information—including the
CDF funds— which do not come with any pre-conditions and social audit exercises which can truly
aspire to become an established practice.

Despite this challenge, MUHURI and the team participating in the training and scoping exercises
were able to obtain records of the projects including many of the documents discussed in Box One.
During the first 2 days of the training, when MKSS and IBP introduced the main elements of social
audit, the participants were able to assess what information was present in the files and what was
missing. For example: some accounts of money spent in projects were not included, there were no
specifications in terms of contractors names, no clear information on tenders and no tender letters
in some of the projects. A positive element of the CDC‟s presence was the willingness of some of
them—those pertaining to the newly elected committee—to explain some of the contents of these
documents and answer questions that participants had regarding this information and/or the
implementation of the CDF. The missing documents—they argued—were not there because they
did not have time to compile it before the training. But, they emphasized that this information
exists, even though it was not included in the files they provided MUHURI. For the newly
appointed CDC members, this exercise should be seen as a sensitizing tool to the fact that
information is a citizen right, and that sooner or later, they will have to disclose this information
through the introduction of one law- the Access to Information Act. When this time comes,
information will need to be filed in a clear, complete, exhaustive and comprehensive manner as it
has the potential to be used by ordinary citizens interested in holding them accountable.


Training Dynamics – the who, what and how of the Bahari Social Audit

Based on the lessons from the Changamwe social audit, the agenda for this training followed a
similar agenda, with the very important difference that this time, MUHURI would take a more
leading role; a role that was important for them to play, not only because they have acquired more
experience since the first Social Audit exercise, but because it was important for their staff and the
affiliates to view them as trainers when it comes to social audit in Kenya and East Africa. The
training began by introducing the MKSS experience in India through a presentation and a film in
Swahili, which gave the participants an idea of how this work began and subsequently over the years
has developed in India and what are the important lessons to be drawn from this experience.
Following the Indian experience, MUHURI shared its own experiences from Changamwe‟s social
audit exercise and the lessons which also included footage of the public hearing so as to provide the
participants with a clearer picture of what a social audit in Kenya can be like, and how the current
social audit would be carried out and what to expect from the process. Secondly, the group was
exposed to the basics of the CDF as many of them including some MUHURI staff, were not
familiar with details regarding the funds, how they are assigned, who manages them, and what
information needs to be maintained by the5 CDC etc. This session was particularly important for the


5For detailed information around CDF see: Open Society Initiative for East Africa “The CDF Social Audit Guide: a
handbook for communities” (OSIEA: 2008).



                                                                                                                   4
Tanzanian colleagues who needed to learn as much as they could about CDF as a similar law is
currently being discussed in their Parliament.

This presentation, facilitated by MUHURI, was participatory and
allowed members of the group to ask as many questions as they                          Box 3
                                                                           Information at the tip of our
wished around the CDF as well as to identify themselves with the        fingers in preparation for the field:
CDF funds and related documents. Once the CDF was
introduced and understood by the participants, resource persons             1.   Name of Project
from the MKSS took the participants through the process of                  2.   Location
                                                                            3.   Amount Sanctioned
collating information in each of the CDF files pointing out which           4.   Location of BQ
documents are mandatory (Box 1), why each of these documents                5.   Missing documents in file.
is required, and what it tells us about the project, what
information it should ideally contain, who is responsible, and
more importantly, how to read and interpret this information.

This is one of the key sessions of the training because once we receive public information; it can be
overwhelming and hard to understand. If we are unable to comprehend and manage budgetary or
public policy information, our advocacy efforts will not be effective and easily ruled out by
government officials. as an extension to the same logic, for a social audit exercise to be successful we
need to fully understand the documents related to the projects we are auditing; not only that, it is
also essential that we know where to look for key data within the files and how to connect the
different files to each other.

In order to facilitate this process the group was divided into five sub-groups who worked together in
analyzing the documents and carrying out the verification visits to the villages and project sites. The
five groups were a combination of MUHURI staff, Tanzanian colleagues, members of MUHURI‟s
affiliates and, this time, CDC officials. For the rest of the day, and before going for the first field
visit, the groups worked around identifying the most important documents in the files, putting them
in an order, indexing them and writing out a file identification sheet to be placed on the cover of
each file. This group exercise helped the teams get to know each other, familiarize themselves with
all the documents in the files, and identify what it was they would need to look for once they began
the verification process in the villages. To summarize: it forces them to look at the documents and
to think about asking questions that would otherwise not occur to them. It is worth noting that it is
precisely at this point when one begins to feel the excitement in the room!

Suddenly, the documents begin to take the form of an undiscovered archeological site in the eyes of
the archeologist: a finding, documents that are not there, numbers which are not clear, missing
names, etc. People begin to share impressions, to discuss and, just as the archeologist, to imagine the
questions that need to be asked and the possible answers that may emerge! For CDC officials
present at the training, this process forced them to open up to the people in their teams, to respond
directly to questions regarding documents, and it gave them the first taste of what was to come in
the following days. But, scrutinizing public documents, unlike discovering the remains of an ancient
ruin, has real and present consequences on the lives of people: in a positive sense, it brings out
inconsistencies and perhaps cases of corruption that if followed through will result in restitution of
funds and better implementation of poverty reduction programs. But, those who are part of a social
audit exercise must always keep in mind that any statement must be backed up by facts because at
risk is the reputation of officials who could be affected by false accusations, but more importantly,
also because the credibility of civil society organizations depends on the veracity and seriousness of


                                                                                                              5
the statements made around the budget. Evidence-based advocacy needs to be precise and very well
backed up which is where people‟s participation as well as their testimonies are of utmost
importance and rather crucial component of the process!


Essence of a Social Audit: a parenthesis for inspiration

In between the classroom sessions which dealt with                                 Box 4
document sorting exercises and the field visits, resource                Successful Social Auditing
persons from the MKSS provided the group with an                 1.   Full access to information prior to the
inspiring parenthesis on social audits. So far, we know               social audit.
that it is about citizens accessing information, analyzing it,   2.   Officials need to be present to respond
                                                                      to people‟s demands and queries.
and verifying it on the field. But, what is the logic behind     3.   If possible, we need to push for legal
a social audit? What justifies it? What does it strengthen            consequences for corrupt officials and,
and what does it say about democracy when governments            4.   Social auditors must continue to
                                                                      communicate and work with the people
allow a space for it to happen?                                       involved in the site visits and the public
                                                                      hearing!
The resource person from the MKSS explained that a
social audit, above all, “provides a citizen‟s perspective to
an official audit report”. In other words, it allows both society and the government to get citizen‟s
views—especially those affected by public projects—on government policies and processes of
implementation of those policies/schemes. A financial audit report is carried out by either an official
or an independent auditing institution whose responsibility is to make sure that government
expenditures match allocations. When this does not happen, they produce recommendations for the
next budgetary year. These reports give us valuable financial information, but they don‟t provide a
comprehensive overview of everything that is involved in the procurement of publicly funded
projects. One of the missing pieces of the puzzle of an auditor‟s report is the perspective of the
people who are actually „benefiting‟ from the projects and expenditure incurred. The issues that are
addressed through a social audit are: does this project match people‟s priorities? Were they consulted
about it? Did they benefit from it? While an official audit asks whether the money was spent
correctly, a social audit establishes whether this money made a difference in people‟s lives.

Social audit thus implies direct citizen vigilance over public projects, by means of analyzing
government records on the field. The justification is simple: not only are these projects being
financed through citizen‟s contributions to the state (through, for example, direct taxation), but in
the case of those people carrying out the social audits, these projects are directly affecting their well
being. Citizen‟s have a right to know and understand how and why a public school, water tank,
nursery or market were decided to be built in their community; if this is the project they prioritized,
they need to know if the material that was used for its construction was the same as billed for, and if
the quantities used were accurate. Social Audit, , is a process by which citizen‟s have an opportunity
to be involved, to be taken into account, and to demand greater transparency and efficiency in
publicly financed and managed projects. The ultimate aim of a social audit process should be for
these spaces of participation to be institutionalized because “for transparency and accountability to
be complete, the right to information is not enough: officials need to respect the access to
information laws, but they also—and mostly—need to improve their performance.” In this sense, as
social audit and budget analysis becomes more widespread, and as the information to carry them out
is more widely available, we will begin to see the institutionalization of democratic practices—as the
MKSS resource person pointed out it will also ensure that someday “CDC officials will feel


                                                                                                                   6
compelled to share information, to show up in public hearings, and to understand that this is not a
process in which they participate out of good will.”

Preparing for the Public Hearing: social auditors in the field!

The first two days of the training comprised of groups receiving the basic theoretical inputs and
classroom training for carrying out a social audit: they discussed other group‟s previous experiences,
received theoretical knowledge and preparation around social audits, budget work, and CDF funds.
The day before they left for the field visit and verification, they analyzed documents, identified
important information and assigned responsibilities and tasks within their groups. It is only after this
process has been completed that they are considered to be ready to go into the field and carry out
the next step of the social audit: verifying documents on the site and asking local villagers about the
scrutinized projects. The first afternoon the group divided itself in two instead of five, in order for
the facilitators to be present in at least this first exercise. MUHURI arranged for vans that would
take everyone to two communities where they would assess two projects: a water tank and a nursery
school.

The water tank project site located in the Mbongolo village was a site where small palm made huts
are surrounded by a vast green, humid valley. The population lives in conditions of extreme poverty,
where families are constituted by a male head, with several sons who have at least two wives.
Children under ten years of age make up the majority of the population and due to the condition of
poverty in which their parents live have access to just one meal a day. Water, in this village, is a
scarce resource but thanks to the CDF funds there is now a water tank. As MUHURI‟s teams
arrived, they were greeted by the members of the CDF project committee (PC). The PC was made
up of village members among whom there is a secretary, treasurer and a chairman. These members
of the PC are obliged to keep records regarding the construction and maintenance of the project and
are by law obliged to meet regularly—with village members—to discuss CDF projects and keep
minutes of these meetings. The information that the teams were able to gather from the PC was not
exhaustive as often they were afraid to be critical of the project and or did not want to share a lot of
important information. This time around, they were even more reluctant to speak because CDC
members were present.

The tactic then was to split up and speak to the members of the community in smaller groups. This
exercise was crucial because relevant information from the community needed to be obtained, but
most importantly, this was the only way possible to involve the affected population and get their
impressions on these projects without them feeling threatened or uncomfortable with the presence
of the CDC or the PC members. For example, by speaking with a village elder—who was reluctant
to speak because he was „old and ignorant‟—the team was able to learn that most people in this
village were not aware that the project was a CDF financed project, that the water from the tank was
being charged for and that a lot of community members were excluded from PC meetings. Despite
the fact that this visit did not uncover any act of mismanagement of funds (the tank was finished, in
operation and in more or less good maintenance) what emerged is something that would be
common in all the Bahari CDF projects: lack of knowledge regarding the CDF projects and no
formal mechanisms of consultation with and participation from the majority of villagers. This is
despite the fact that the CDF Act mandates that the CDC and PC members must include villagers in
meetings, and inform them about the projects and the CDF, this also constitutes a major finding as
it limits citizen participation and access to information.



                                                                                                      7
These findings, along with those of the other site visits were shared with the rest of the group in a
debriefing plenary each night after the teams reassembled at the training venue. During the following
days, and based on what they learnt during the first site visits, the five groups visited at least two
sites each to gather information on the 13 projects and to invite people to testify in the public
hearing event.

On Friday, the day preceding the public hearing, groups collated the information they gathered from
all the sites. What followed this process was that a representative from each group was to present
the findings in a plenary so that others could get a picture of what was happening in other sites and
so that the group leaders—who were to present these findings in the public hearing—could get
feedback from other participants and the facilitators. Mainly, as mentioned earlier, what the groups
found were issues of lack of participation of villagers in the CDF decision making processes but in
addition to that, they found the following common trends in the implementation of the CDF and
execution of the works:

    1. Communities were not aware of who the contractors were or how they were selected- in two
       or three projects, the contractor was the same.
    2. Internal conflicts within PC where some members have a stronger voice than others.
    3. Women were not always consulted and expressed that the projects were not benefiting them.
    4. Laborers were brought from outside and not hired from within the communities and in
       some of the cases where they were hired they had not been fully paid even after the
       completion of the projects.
    5. BQ‟s exceeded sanctioned amounts or materials in site did not match those in the BQ.

                                                                         Besides the actual findings, which had to be
                              Box 5
                 Matsangoni Chief’s Office Toilet                        corroborated, there is an important element
                 Amount Sanctioned: 120,000ksh                           to mention around this part of the social
               Reported Status: C O M P L E T E D                        audit process.
  Despite being reported as a complete project and with a „spent‟
  sanctioned amount of 120,000 ksh, the social auditing team           During the presentations, the facilitators and
  discovered that the chief‟s office toilet was: incomplete, not built MUHURI operating staff pointed out that
  according to the specifications (only 10 feet deep instead of the
  reported 18 feet deep) and virtually sunken and unusable. When       people did not seem to fully comprehend the
  CDC officials responsible for this project argued that the project   information, particularly with regard to the
  was completed, one of the social auditors testified that:            BQ. They noticed how in the midst of the
   “The toilet is evidently not completed as, while we were there, the excitement that a process such as this one
      chief excused himself and used the backyard bush to relieve      inspires, people tend to make assumptions
                                 himself!!”                            that are not backed up with facts. This, along
   Other community members expressed their anger as the toilet is      with the issue that they did not fully share the
   dangerous and are afraid that children will fall down               information with a wide number of
                                                                       community members, obliged MUHURI to
take a step back to stress some essential elements around social audit. For example, it is important to
point out when good work has been done; when presenting people should not provide their
opinion, but describe what they observed and learnt from community members; very importantly,
they should talk to as many people as possible and make sure that they invite them to the public
hearing. Without local citizen‟s testimonies, the statements presented during a public hearing lose
force and credibility. Additionally, this process is not only about pointing out what is right and
wrong in terms of the procurement of funds; it is also and above all, about providing people with a



                                                                                                                     8
space to voice out their concerns and thus ensuring their participation in the public hearing is
crucial!

                                                           One of the experiences worth pointing out in
                      Box 6
               Rora, Road Project                          relation to this last point is that of the Baraka
           Amount Sanctioned: 500,000ksh                   Village were a youth polytechnic was in the process
                                                           of being built in the middle of a remote area
  The site verification showed some important
  inconsistencies and problems with this road              without access to water or electricity. The process
  construction:                                            by which members of the social audit team
                                                           gathered this information can teach important
  o 500,000 were spent despite the fact that lowest biding
       amount was 470,000;                                 lessons to those interested in carrying out this type
  o The community was not involved in the project          of work, and it paints a picture of how, when given
       identification                                      the chance, people will speak. When the team
  o No gravel on the road.
  o Laborers were not paid: they were given food instead   arrived, they were greeted by the new chair of the
       of money.                                           PC, who was concerned with the process by which
                                                           this polytechnic had been assigned to be
constructed in this village. Slowly team members split in groups and as some stayed behind to speak
with village elders and PC members—who arrived slowly—others went to speak to women, young
people and other members of the community. The group gathered in the chief‟s office (another
CDF project not yet finished) to discuss the project. As time passed, the room began to fill with
community members including two elder women who sat quietly for some time. The young audit
team carefully addressed members of the PC and questioned them with documents in hand, about
the project. More and more people arrived. While at the beginning most were quietly listening, they
began to speak out as the social audit team began to directly address them. The women, when given
the chance, explained that they were never invited to join project related meetings, and that for
them, what would have been a priority was a water tank as they have to walk for miles to fetch
water. What occurred there gave everyone a little taste of what the public hearing could look like,
and made it clear that local public assemblies do call the attention and interest of people; that
people—even those traditionally excluded—will raise their voices when given the chance to do so.




The Public Hearing- power to the people!




                                                                                                              9
The long expected public hearing that took place at                          Box 6
the culmination of this second social audit exercise      How to Present Information during the Public
took place on Saturday July 19th in a soccer field in                       Hearing
Kilifi Town. But, despite the fact that the week long
                                                         o Information must be presented in a format that is
program had gone through without major polemics,             easily understood by everyone present.
this public hearing was about to remain an               o Presentations need to be brief, sharp but
aspiration. This last section begins with this               thorough;
anecdote because in real life, what is about to be       o Presentations will last five minutes to allow for
described is what social movements and civil society         testimonies and replies by government officials.
                                                         o Extra information that will back up statements and
groups around the world face when they attempt to            findings needs to be readily available.
scrutinize budgets and bring officials to account:
intimidation, sabotage and limited freedom of
speech.

As we mentioned earlier, the outgoing CDC officials were present throughout the process and once
they listened to some of the presentations that took place in the morning, they began to react. The
outgoing CDC officials accused the presenters of „manipulating‟ information, of being imprecise,
and of violating the agreement by which they had provided the group with the information. They
felt cornered and when witnessing the force that people‟s voices can have, they feared being
exposed, even when there was no talk of great corruption or gross mismanagement of funds. While
the teams returned from an afternoon spent mobilizing people in Kilifi to invite citizens to
participate in the public hearing to be held the following day, MUHURI received a call from the
local police and were informed that the permit to carry out the public hearing had been cancelled.
Without justification, without prior notice and in violation of the right to assembly, the public
hearing was on the verge of being called off. It was decided that to keep the spirit of the teams high,
this information of a possible “call-off” would not be announced to the group. By the time the
group was informed the next day, fortunately with the intervention of some MP‟s, OSIEA and other
contacts, the permit was renewed and the public hearing was given a green signal. MUHURI never
truly confirmed what stirred up this sudden reaction from the police; what is suspected is that the
outgoing CDC officials—who did not show up at the public hearing—attempted to sabotage the
event.

Despite beginning a few hours later than anticipated, when the group arrived to set up the tents,
people from the communities where the projects were located had already started arriving and
gathering in the field. At 12 noon, the tents were set, chairs were placed, CDF project information
was pasted on the walls of the tents, and the presenters were ready. The meeting was attended by
approximately 800 people who patiently listened to the social audit reports, to the testimonies of
their neighbors, friends, or relatives and to the replies of the present CDF officials. Once more, the
CDF proved to be an issue of public concern; once more, MUHURI made the point that people are
eager to participate, and that public discussions around these and other funds need to take place.
The meeting was also attended by one of the Commissioner‟s from Kenya‟s Human Rights
Commission, by local politicians and by a Tanzanian MP invited by the Tanzanian NGOs.
Unfortunately, the local MP did not attend the meeting due to ill-health.

With theater, puppets, music and acrobats, the event began and kept people glued to their places.
People were given awareness regarding CDF by MUHURI‟s communication‟s team who through
theater plays on CDF funds seek to capture the attention and the interest of young and old. With
music played by a band, people were pushed to „wake up‟ as one by one, the members of the social


                                                                                                          10
audit teams presented their findings, one week‟s endeavor; and as one by one members from the
communities came forward to testify with words and demands. The puppets, stage a comedy version
of what Kenyan‟s have to face when it comes to CDF funds and though they laughed, people
understood that these issues matter, and that here and now they have a chance to speak about them
in a forum that has been provided for them to do so fearlessly. CDF officials, those who decided to
remain and respond to people‟s demands, also spoke out, and took this opportunity to come closer
to the people to whom they are answerable and accountable, to share with them information that
would otherwise be hidden. They got a chance to be part of a process to plant the seeds through
which a more democratic society can flourish.


                                Voices of the People: why is a Public Hearing Important?


  During the public hearing exercise, we set out to interview some of the people who had lent their testimonies and
  as a means of capturing some of their experiences regarding the social audit exercise. We wanted to know what
  this event meant for them, what it changed and why they considered it to be important. This, in their words, is
  what social audit meant for them:


  “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. This is important because most of the people in Kenya and in this region are not aware of their
  rights. Many are afraid to ask when it comes to public financed projects, even though they have many questions.”
                                                                                              Mr. Moses Tsuma, Ngereya Location.

  “Looking at the documents and discussing the projects with the members of the community helped me understand better how the CDF
  works. It gave me experience on how to ask questions about CDF. Now we know that there is information and that we can talk
  about it so that corruption will not happen.”

                                                                                        Mr. Austin Khonde, Matsangoni Location

  “I think that we need more information. People should be able to participate more. We don’t like to be spoken for: we need to be
  included in the discussions. Community participation is important and the CDF should respond to the priorities of the people!”
                                                                                                          Woman in Public Hearing

  “I think that this process is good. But I’m not sure what kind of interest it will produce from MP’s. Will they do anything after this?”
                                                                                                        Mrs. Kachi from Kilifi Town

  This interviews were possible thanks to the interpretation aid of Halima Mohamed from Haki Yetu Centre




Bibliography



                                                                                                                                             11
1. Gikonyo, Guanjiru, “The CDF Social Audit Gude: a handbook for communities: (Open
   Society Initiative for East Africa, 2008).
2. Ramkumar, Vivek, “Our Money, Our Responsibility: a Citizen‟s Guide to Monitoring
   Government Expenditures” (International Budget Project, 2008).
3. Mohanti, Siba Sankar, “Rethoric and Reality of MPLADs” (Center on Budget and
   Governance Accountability, India, 2004).
4. CODE-NGO, Phillipines “PDAF Watch: a civil society monitoring tool” (CODE-NG,
   2004)
5. IEA “Kenyan‟s Veredict: A Citizen‟s Report Card on the Constituency Development Fund”
   (IEA Research Paper Series No 7)
6. Ramkumar, Vivek and Kidambi, Sowmya “Twataka Pesa Zetu; A public hearing in Kenya”
   (Mazdoor, Kisan, Shakti, Sangathan/International Budget Project, 2007).




                                                                                     12

				
DOCUMENT INFO
Shared By:
Categories:
Stats:
views:32
posted:4/14/2010
language:English
pages:12