Social audits.

Practice Question:

What do you understand by the term ‘social audit’? How is ‘social audit’ different from ‘development audit’? Highlight the objectives and advantages of ‘social audits’.  – 200 words

What is a social audit?

A social audit is a way of measuring, understanding, reporting and ultimately improving an organization’s social and ethical performance. A social audit helps to narrow gaps between vision/goal and reality, between efficiency and effectiveness. It is a technique to understand, measure, verify, report on and to improve the social performance of the organization. Social auditing creates an impact upon governance. It values the voice of stakeholders, including marginalized/poor groups whose voices are rarely heard. Social auditing is taken up for the purpose of enhancing local governance, particularly for strengthening accountability and transparency in local bodies.

The key difference between development and social audit is that a social audit focuses on the neglected issue of social impacts, while a development audit has a broader focus including environment and economic issues, such as the efficiency of a project or programme.

What are the objectives of social audit?

  1. Assessing the physical and financial gaps between needs and resources available for local development.
  2. Creating awareness among beneficiaries and providers of local social and productive services.
  3. Increasing efficacy and effectiveness of local development programmes.
  4. Scrutiny of various policy decisions, keeping in view stakeholder interests and priorities, particularly of rural poor.
  5. Estimation of the opportunity cost for stakeholders of not getting timely access to public services.

What are the advantages of social audit?

  1. Trains the community on participatory local planning.
  2.  Encourages local democracy.
  3.  Encourages community participation.
  4.  Benefits disadvantaged groups.
  5.  Promotes collective decision making and sharing responsibilities.
  6. Develops human resources and social capital.

Source: FAO

Categories: POINT IAS

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