Transparency and accountability are crucial aspects of community development. They ensure that resources are used effectively and that the community's needs are respected. In dZi's partnership with mountain communities, we use social audits to share information about our infrastructure projects, answer residents' questions, and formally transfer ownership to our local partners. This participatory community process is an essential tool in ensuring that our projects are completed quickly, effectively, and for the benefit of all.
This year, we carried out social audits for 12 community infrastructure projects benefitting 475 households in Eastern Nepal. An audit begins with representatives from the community, local government, community-service organizations, and dZi gathering at the project site. Together, the group reviews the project plan, its implementation, and its impact.
We distribute budget-related handbooks, utilized life-size banners to enhance understanding of how funds and community labor was used, furnished copies of bill payments, and provided project-related documents to our local stakeholders. We then facilitate group discussions and question-and-answer sessions to clarify working methods, approaches, and project specifics to ensure that everyone understands and respects how dZi's work was carried out. We conclude the audit with presentations and discussions where we share our recommendations for similar projects in the community. Once finished, we formally hand-over ownership of the completed project to the community and local government for future care.
Bipana Kulung, the vice chairperson of Mahakulung Rural Municipality, attended the social audit of the Hilkha Drinking Water Project in Chheskam and shared her thoughts, saying, "This is a good practice because it ensures us that there hasn't been any corruption and the budget allocated for the project has been used properly."
Social audits have successfully built confidence in the community and local governments regarding the fair implementation of development projects. This, in turn, has fostered a spirit of ownership and encouraged active participation from both the government and the community – ultimately contributing to the long-term sustainability of the projects.
Bir Kaji Rai, a community member from Phedi, Khotang District, expressed his admiration for dZi’s work during the social audit. He said, “The organization is committed to transparency, as they openly share all their activities with the public. This transparent approach has significantly bolstered our trust in dZi, making them a highly reputable organization here.”
The social audit provides participants with a comprehensive overview of the project's journey, spanning from the initial planning process to its final completion. Together, dZi and our community partners are able to use the valuable input gathered from participants during this process as a strategic foundation for shaping future programs. Through social audits, we are fostering a sense of ownership and responsibility that will further promote a collaborative environment for development initiatives.