The social audit guide: a handbook for communities
Open Society Initiative of East Africa (OSIEA)
This handbook is designed to assist community groups and individuals to
understand the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) process and to provide
information and skills on how to monitor these funds through a process known as
This handbook is designed to complement a more comprehensive resource guide -
the CDF Social Audit Guide Resource Book - intended for social audit trainers, civil
society organisations and those already well versed with the CDF. The resource
book provides greater detail and discusses key advocacy concerns, including
weaknesses in the founding law and recommendations for change.
Kenyans have been very excited about the creation of the Constituency Development
Fund (CDF). It has sparked great interest among ordinary people because they feel
that for the first time they can be directly involved in deciding how government
monies will be used in their communities.
In 2003, the Kenyan government earmarked 2.5 percent of ordinary collected
revenue (approximately $100 million) to be administered by Parliament through the
CDF. Three quarters of the amount is divided equitably between the 210
parliamentary constituencies, while the remaining quarter caters for less-developed
Communities all around Kenya have used their CDF allocation for projects such as
the construction of schools, health facilities, water projects, and roads. In many
places, these projects have been the first infrastructure improvements seen in years.
The Open Society Initiative for East Africa (OSIEA) plays an active role in
encouraging open, informed dialogue about issues of public importance in East
Africa. The building of vibrant and tolerant democracies in East Africa-with
governments that are accountable to a nation’s people-is a priority for OSIEA.
OSIEA believes that Kenyans will be better served to benefit from the CDF if they are
knowledgeable about the fund and its workings. We believe that if people know how
to track the use of these funds, there will be less likelihood of misallocation or
corruption. We believe that if people are involved decision-makers in their
communities, the CDF will be better implemented to promote development in their
towns and villages.
If well utilized, the potential of these funds is enormous. State monies are finally
being devolved to the local level, allowing people at the grassroots to decide their
However, the implementation of the fund is dogged by controversy, generated in
part by weaknesses in the Act. Members of Parliament have excessive powers to pick
the managing committee members and to disburse contracts. There have been cases of corruption, nepotism, lack of community participation, and few mechanisms of
oversight to hold Parliamentarians accountable. Community groups attempting to
access information about CDF projects often are unsure of the processes or
encounter difficulty in getting the necessary documents.
This handbook will assist those who use it to effectively track CDF expenditure in
their local area. With this information, Kenyans will be better empowered to make
demands on their politicians about how they want their public funds used and will
ensure that such projects are constructed in an open and non-corrupt manner.
The Open Society Institute for East Africa is immensely grateful to all those who
contributed to the development of this handbook, particularly Wanjiru Gikonyo. We
are also grateful to Vivek Ramkumar of the International Budget Project for his
continued support to this work.
Introduction to Social Audit
The Constituency Development Fund (CDF) was introduced in Kenya in 2003 as a homegrown initiative to address inequalities in development around the country. Since it was introduced, CDF has made a great impact, with numerous CDF projects coming up throughout the country. However, there are concerns that CDF monies are not managed in a transparent manner; that many CDF projects are not useful to local communities; and that local communities are not sufficiently involved in its management. This handbook is designed to assist community groups and individuals to understand the CDF process and provide information and skills on how to monitor CDF expenditure through a process known as social auditing.
A social audit is the process through which all details of a public project are scrutinised at a public meeting. 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 evaluate how well public resources are being used and how to improve performance. It also aims to ensure maximum community participation.
The aim of this handbook is to help communities understand how to conduct CDF social audits in their location and constituency. If members of the public can master the skills to effectively track CDF expenditure, they can then employ the same skills to track government expenditure in other local development funds such as the Local Authority Transfer Fund (LATF), the Secondary School Education Bursary (SSEB), the Roads Maintenance Levy Fund (RMLF), the AIDS Fund, Free Primary Education (FPE), the newly introduced Youth Fund and so forth.